Joanne Hodge | Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Nursery and Primary School

My initial skills within technology were limited as I was of the generation where you had a dusty ICT suite with a few BBC computers in that were hardly ever used.

I basically learnt to write 'Hello World' and to this date still do not know how! Once I left Uni with my Art degree, I then trained to be a Restaurant Manager with McDonalds and had to learn how to complete stock orders, forms etc using a very basic IT database package. The extent to my technical knowledge here was if the computer was not working, just turn it on and off again! After having my second child in 2001, I decided to retrain as a teacher which was a huge change for me. As part of my course ICT was integrated and a must have skill - but Computer Science was not even mentioned at Primary level! Once I started teaching, I realised that I needed to upskill myself so began shadowing the IT Co-ordinator for a few years. He then moved on, so I then took the role full time. Since 2004, I have been the coordinator at Our Lady of Lourdes in Southport but did not really understand what computer Science was. In 2014, the New curriculum was introduced and suddenly words such as programming and algorithms were added. As you can imagine, with no prior knowledge in this area, this would be a challenge and, to be honest, quite terrifying. Computing at School sent to all schools a booklet entitled 'Computing in the national curriculum - a guide for primary teachers' and a covering letter stating if you want to receive training follow this link. Without hesitation, I followed the link and little did I realise that my life would change. This link enabled me to train as a CAS Master Teacher and I had to attend Sheffield Hallam for several training sessions over a year on subjects such as binary and hexadecimal numbers, switches, and Scratch. A real eye-opener which gave me a great foundation to Computer Science. What I had not realised at the time was that from this I then would be expected to train other teachers. Yet another huge challenge, as I was still only new to the subject! This gave me such a fantastic start and from here I attended CAS regional meetings and became a CAS Community leader - both enabled me to network with fellow teachers and continue to upskill myself in areas such as physical computing. I continue to run termly CAS Community meetings, became a CAS Ambassador and undertook extensive training to become CAS Coach for the STEM GCSE Accelerator Course graduates. I have embraced technology and continue to upskill myself as you need to keep abreast of any new technologies and particularly love physical computing using the Redfern Crumble and Microbit.

What was once a scary thought of training teachers has now become my passion and it so rewarding. I am Barefoot Ambassador and deliver free courses remotely several days each term to teachers based around Computational Thinking. For Barefoot, I have also written a resource for them entitled Code Crackers linked to WW2. I am a STEM Ambassador and deliver NCCE courses for Primary schools and next academic year, our school, will become a hub for the Merseyside and Warrington Teach Computing Centre. Our Lady of Lourdes has also become one of the few primary schools approved to be a Digital Schoolhouse and we offer free computing workshops to children and teachers. For the past few years, I have been an associate lecturer at Hope University Primary Computing Course and contributed to their update ITT curriculum as a subject matter expert. I have completed the CAS GCSE accelerator course and the 2-day Raspberry Pi Ambassador course.

Since becoming the school Computing coordinator, we have had a new ICT Suite and Smart TVS to help support our curriculum. We have a range of physical devices such as Spheros, Microbits and Crumbles to enhance our curriculum which are also shared at CAS meetings and with trainee teachers too at Hope.

All of this would not have been possible had I not clicked that link, taken the plunge and embraced all things computing. I believe by giving of your time and pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, you achieve so much more!