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Belonging: Project guide for CodeStars intervention

Project overview

The Belonging project is one of five projects being delivered by the Gender Balance in Computing programme, funded by the Department for Education. In this project we are exploring ways of tackling girls’ sense of belonging in computing, to increase their interest and engagement in the subject.

Girls’ sense of belonging in STEM subjects can be lower than boys’ and this can be a barrier to participation. We want to test the impact of CodeStars, a set of new evidence-based resources that we have created to increase pupil’s sense of belonging in computing.

Which group you are in

You have been allocated at random to Intervention group 2: Code Stars and will remain in this group for the whole project. As part of the CodeStars project, we ask you to:

  • Use our action guide for inclusive teaching. We would like you to implement these tips during the ten weeks of the project (and afterwards too, although this is not a requirement). 
  • Deliver a lesson and a short follow-up lesson between 4th October and 3rd December 2021 (1.5 hrs in total). The standalone lesson will be on artificial intelligence (1 hr, to be delivered by 26th November) and will be followed by the short follow-up session (30 mins, to be delivered by the 3rd December). 
  • Share 9 weekly conversation prompts with parents/carers between 4th October and the week commencing 6th December . We have designed these prompts to encourage parents/carers to talk to their children about computing. Some of the prompts complement the lessons and others include suggestions for conversation topics or activities that parents/carers can engage in with their child.  
  • Support the evaluation of this project by asking pupils to complete two surveys (a start-of-project survey and an end-of-project survey).

Although this project is exploring girls’ sense of belonging in computing, the resources have been designed to be delivered to all pupils. You must deliver the resources to both boys and girls.

Aims of the project

To find out:

  • Whether the new resources (a lesson, short follow-up session and action guide) delivered by teachers and a series of conversation prompts sent to parents/carers can increase girls’ sense of belonging in computing, and ultimately, their interest and participation in the subject. 

Materials we provide you with for the project

  • A website where you can access all of the resources outlined below. 
  • Resources to use in school:
    1. A start-of-project survey for pupils to complete before the CodeStars project begins. This will help us to understand pupils’ attitudes before the project.
    2. A 5 step action guide with tips for inclusive computing teaching.
    3. PowerPoint slides and Teacher instructions to help you deliver the lesson and follow-up session.
    4. A link to a home-learning task for pupils to complete between the lesson and follow-up session.
    5. A certificate to give to pupils after they have completed the home-learning task.
    6. An end-of-project survey for pupils to complete after the CodeStars project finishes. This will help us understand the pupils’ attitudes after the project.
  • Resources to share with parents: 
    1. An information letter and withdrawal form to send to parents/carers of Year 4 (going into Year 5) pupils. This will outline the project to parents/carers and give them the opportunity to withdraw from the project. 
    2. Conversation prompts to share with parents/carers. We have created four versions of each discussion prompt. We will share these with you via email and host these on the project website. You can choose which version works best for you, according to how you want to share the prompts with parents and carers:
      • Text messages to parents/carers
      • Emails to parents/carers
      • Digital version of prompt as an online homework task
      • Paper version of prompt as an online homework task

What you will need to deliver the resources in your teaching

  • To complete the survey and deliver the lesson and follow-up lesson, you will need to provide pupils with access to a laptop, computer or tablet that can help them access the internet. This is because the survey is digital and the lessons include video and web page content. The task can be completed in pairs if necessary. If possible, pupils should be provided with headphones – however, these are not strictly necessary. Pupils will also receive a certificate at the end of the lesson for completing the task. Certificates will be available to download from the website. You will need access to a printer to print these certificates before the lesson and fill them in.

What you need to do:

By the 10th September

  • Send out the information letter to Year 5 pupils’ parents/carers. This letter will inform parents/carers about the nature of the project, the personal data that will be collected, and how this data will be processed. It will also give parents/carers the opportunity to withdraw if they wish.
  • Parents/carers must return the information sheet to you by 17th September if they DO NOT wish to be part of the project. Parents/carers who do not reply will automatically be included in the project. 
  • Familiarise yourself with the PowerPoint slides, teacher instructions and action guide provided. 
  • Make sure you have all the materials ready for the lessons.

If any parents/carers contact you and don’t want their child to take part

  • Reassure the parents/carers that their child can still take part in the lesson we have designed for you to deliver. However, we will not send text messages to parents/carers who do not want their child to take part and you won’t send us any information about them. These children should also not complete the surveys.
  • Please keep a log of parents/carers who do not want their children to be part of this project. Please follow your school’s data storage policy to store this data. 

Between Monday 27th September – Friday 1st October (before you deliver the lessons or share conversation prompts):

  • Run a session with pupils to complete the start-of-project survey. Pupils whose parents have withdrawn them from the project do not need to complete the survey.
  • Pupils will need access to a device that they can use to complete the online survey. This can take place as a whole class or in smaller groups as long as all pupils complete the survey before you deliver the first CodeStars lesson.
  • Explain to your pupils that they will be taking part in a project to test some new resources. You will be delivering a new lesson to them and their parents/carers might be receiving some conversation prompts. 
  • Explain to your pupils that they will be asked to complete a survey at the beginning and end of the project. Please encourage them to be honest with their opinions. Explain that they can choose to withdraw from the research, which will mean that they should not complete the surveys and none of their data will be collected.
  • Ask your pupils to complete the start-of-project survey. The start-of-project survey is a set of questions about the children’s attitudes to computing, and it will take around twenty minutes to complete. Please check that each child has correctly completed the information about themselves and chosen the correct school from the drop-down list at the beginning of the survey before they move on to the main survey questions. Please be available to help your pupils to read the questions if they have difficulties, but allow them to answer independently.

Between 4th October and early December (during the project): 

  • Follow the tips provided in the action guide for inclusive computing teaching over the course of your lessons. 
  • Please deliver the main lesson and short follow-up lesson between 4th October and the 3rd December.  Please deliver the main lesson by 26th November. You should deliver the short follow-up session after you have delivered the main lesson and at least one week after pupils have completed the home learning task. 
  • Share conversation prompts with parents/carers. Please share approximately one prompt each week, starting the week commencing 4th October. If you take a one week break for half-term, this means that you will send the final prompt during the week starting the 6th December. Please send these to parents/carers of pupils who are taking part in the CodeStars project. It is up to you whether you send prompts to parents/carers who have withdrawn and this might vary depending on which method you choose to share conversation prompts (e.g. direct or on a whole class platform). If you choose to share prompts directly with parents (e.g. by text or email), we would recommend that you exclude parents/carers who have withdrawn.
  • Keep in touch with us. The Behavioural Insights Team will be the first point of contact for queries related to the project – you can contact us anytime at codestars@bi.team. We will be available for ongoing implementation support and project management support.

Between 6th December – 17th December (after all the conversation prompts have been shared and after you have delivered the main lesson and follow up lesson):

  • Run a session for pupils to complete the end-of-project survey. This should take 20 minutes. As with the earlier survey, this can be completed as a whole class or in smaller groups at different times depending on the logistics of accessing computers or devices. Please ensure that pupils’ personal information and school is correct before continuing with the survey.

Use of resources:

These resources are made available by the National Centre for Computing Education in connection with its Gender Balance in Computing Research Programme (the “Programme”) funded by the Department of Education. 

All resources are owned by the NCCE unless indicated otherwise (for example in the case of material that is produced by Behavioural Insights Team, Apps for Good, and WISE). Any copyrighted works by third parties are reproduced for teaching purposes and on a non-commercial basis only. 

By accessing and using these resources you agree: 

  • you will use the resources in connection with the Programme only; and 
  • you will not otherwise copy or share the resources.

Health and safety and the pandemic:

This project has been designed accounting for the current context that schools face during the global pandemic. We are very aware of the challenges facing teachers and the resources have been designed to provide comprehensive and easy to follow lesson slide-decks for teachers and minimise any additional workload.

The context of every school is different, and we anticipate that you will need to follow your school policies on use of computer equipment, paper resources and discussion activities. We anticipate that for some schools this may mean classes being taught or using computers in smaller groups than usual, and what would normally be class groups being taught different lessons at different times to stagger the use of computer rooms. Please go ahead with these arrangements as you are for other lessons. From the research perspective the important thing is that students are able to experience the content of the lessons and complete both surveys so we can measure the impact lessons have on them.

It is likely that there will be increased absences and disruption in attendance at this time and we anticipate this. If you have individual students or small groups who are absent during the project then please proceed as you would normally. The evaluation team will be measuring the impact across many schools and absences are a normal part of this, although we know they may be higher than usual. Please support any students who have been absent and return to re engage with the lessons as you would for any other lesson. The end-of-project survey (completed at the end of the project) will ask students to report some general information on whether they have missed any sessions in order to help us understand the impact of this.

If during the project your lessons are disrupted by large groups being absent due to isolation, if you yourself are absent for a period of time, or if the school is closed to pupils and you move to home learning, then please contact us when you are able to. Email Shoshanna Freedman at codestars@bi.team

We will be monitoring the COVID-19 situation in schools closely and will be in touch with instructions on how to proceed with the project should there be any further disruptions to teaching. 

Thank you for taking part in this project!

If you have any questions then please contact Shoshanna at codestars@bi.team.