An introduction to Leaving Certificate Computer Science (LCCS)

Presented by: Joe English

Leaving Certificate Computer Science (LCCS) was introduced as a senior cycle subject in 2018, marking a significant milestone in the Irish education system. Despite facing challenges such as teacher supply and the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, the enrolment numbers for LCCS have been steadily growing and in 2023 approximately 2,200 students sat the Leaving Certificate Computer Science examination. However, one persistent obstacle to the rollout of this new and exciting subject is the confidence of teachers to deliver this subject at the senior cycle level.

This workshop seeks to provide participants with a gentle introduction to Leaving Certificate Computer Science through a mix of slides and activities designed to enhance teacher confidence to engage with computer science in their own contexts. There will be an emphasis on presenting the multi-disciplinary nature of the subject with particular focus on placing 21st century skills such as creativity, critical thinking, curiosity, communication, collaboration, and citizenship at the centre of computer science, as opposed to the technical skills that are often associated with the subject. By engaging in a mixture of plugged and unplugged activities drawn from computational thinking and computers and society participants will have the opportunity to appreciate that computer science is about exploring the world around us and making it a better place for humanity and sundry to live in.

Participants will also have the opportunity to understand common misconceptions relating to computer science thereby increasing their awareness of the discipline. They will be provided with comprehensive overview of the LCCS course and the support ecosystem available to educators, both from the state and external sources, including industry partnerships, educational resources, and collaborative networks among teachers.

By the end of the workshop participants will not only have a clearer understanding of LCCS but will also be equipped with valuable resources and practical experiences to boost their confidence in delivering computer science education at the senior cycle level. This collaborative effort aims to empower educators, fostering a supportive community that enhances the overall effectiveness of LCCS in Irish post-primary schools.

All activities and demonstrations are designed to spark interest and curiosity. Importantly, no prior knowledge of computer science or coding is assumed or required, making this workshop accessible to all educators, regardless of their background.

Sample references:
Connolly, Cornelia, & Kirwan, Colette. (2023). Capacity for, access to, and participation in computer science education in Ireland. Galway, Ireland: University of Galway,
McGarr, O., McInerney, C., Exton, C. & Power, J. (2020) Exploring teachers’ professional development to support the roll-out of Computer Science in Irish second-level schools. Final report of the SFI-funded project (Discover programme).
Keane, N. & McInerney, C. (2017) Report on the Provision of Courses in Computer Science in Upper Second Level Education Internationally. National Council for Curriculum and Assessment

Presenter Biography:

Joe English has a professional career spanning over 35 years during which time he worked as a software engineer and educator.

Joe was a member of the NCCA subject development group for Leaving Certificate Computer Science (LCCS) and since 2017 he has worked for the PDST (now Oide) providing CPD supports to schools and promoting CS across Ireland.

Joe has worked as the Chief Advising Examiner for the SEC on all end of course LCCS examinations to date.