Blog written by Dr Albin Wallace, Director of IT and Development, The Education Fellowship

With major changes coming in the national curriculum in Computer Science, The Education Fellowship sought to find a suitable way to launch the subject across its schools. With many students already using Microsoft’s Kodu as well as development software such as Visual Studio through its Dreamspark programme, we approached Microsoft to help us launch the project.

imageAs part of the ongoing relationship that The Education Fellowship has with Microsoft, a group of year 9 and 10 students from Clarendon College, Wrenn School and Rushden Community College were fortunate to attend a special conference at Microsoft Headquarters put on especially for them.

The conference started with the Microsoft’s Schools’ Business Manager, Graham Fox presenting a history of the company from its humble beginnings in the 1970s up to the present time where its vision is “a cloud and mobile-first world”.

Two Microsoft interns, Helene and Sophie then spoke to our students about what it is like to work at Microsoft and the process of internship whilst doing a university degree. They emphasised collaboration and teamwork as being two factors that were especially important within the organisation. The young interns spoke about their roles in digital marketing and event management. They recommended that students looked at www.twitter.com/getonuk and www.beyourfuture.net as two important websites for students to look at.

Phil Cross from the Microsoft Developer Experience department also spoke about working at Microsoft and emphasised to our students the importance of doing the right thing and doing it well- his personal recipe for success. Phil talked about his work with people who build apps on Windows platforms and then introduced the students to www.touchdevelop.com where they had fun using Windows devices to develop software applications.

After a delicious lunch kindly provided for our students by Microsoft in their beautiful gardens, Charlie Gilbert from the Microsoft IT Academy spoke about the Microsoft Apprenticeship Programme and the route into computer science through Further Education.

Here was what one of our students had to say:

“I found that the visit to the Microsoft Company in Reading was an enjoyable and a rare opportunity to see how the Company works. From visiting Microsoft it now gives me more knowledge not only on what goes on there but also all the different processes that have to happen to test different apps & systems. While I was at Microsoft I got the opportunity to do some coding which benefits me for when I have my IT/ Computer science lessons. So overall I found this a exciting experience.” - Harley Childs Rushden Community College

A big thank you to the Microsoft for their generosity and continued support of The Education Fellowship and also to the teachers and students from the three schools who were great ambassadors for The Education Fellowship and will help to spread the message about the importance of Computer Science back into our schools.