DJRFF scales up computer science course for state schools

The David and Jane Richards Family Foundation (DJRFF) is scaling up its computer science syllabus for state schools.

The registered charity has partnered with Astrea Academy Trust to introduce new courses at four secondary schools across South Yorkshire. 

David and Jane Richards with Astrea CEO Libby Nicholas, left, and Astrea Academy Sheffield pupils. Picture: Chris Etchells

It successfully piloted its syllabus last year with the aim of transforming the way computing is taught in classrooms. 

The syllabus concentrates on data science to give young people the ability to understand and solve real-world challenges.

DJRFF provides schools with detailed educational materials, hardware such as Raspberry Pi microcomputers and environmental sensors, one-to-one teacher training and technical support.

Astrea is a new family of 27 academies in South Yorkshire and Cambridgeshire focused on delivering an education that “inspires beyond measure”. 

It typically works in areas of high socio-economic deprivation and has demonstrated a tangible impact through improved academic performance and Ofsted grades since 2016 when it was established. 

David and Jane Richards said: “We believe the advancement of computing education in state schools will help young people to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial, just the sort of skills we will need in the future.

“We are thrilled to be working with Astrea and share the trust’s commitment to creating equal opportunities for young people to succeed in life, whatever their background.”

Libby Nicholas, chief executive of Astrea Academy Trust, said: “Equipping young people with the skills they need to succeed is a fundamental part of life at our schools. 

“We are absolutely delighted to be working with the David and Jane Richards Family Foundation on this innovative programme to build on the work that we already do – it is wonderful to have this additional support and will make a significant and sustained difference to the lives of our pupils across the four academies.”

The following institutions will run full or edited versions of DJRFF’s computer science courses:

  • Astrea Academy Dearne (full course for Y9 students)
  • Astrea Academy Netherwood (eight-week course for Y9)
  • Astrea Academy Sheffield  (full course for Y7 and Y8)
  • Astrea Academy Woodfields (full course for Y9).

In addition, King Edward VII, a large secondary school in Sheffield, will run the eight-week course for Y8 students. Tapton School, which piloted the syllabus last year and is David’s alma mater, will continue to run the full course for Y9 students. 

David and Jane Richards said: “Our goal is to create a scaleable syllabus that enables schools to incorporate a new way of teaching computer science into the curriculum. 
“The most important feedback we had from our pilot course was how it succeeded in engaging and inspiring students of lower educational attainment as well as the high achievers.

“We want to make computer science fun, exciting and relevant because we need people from all backgrounds to join our growing industry and help solve the challenges of the world.”

To find out how to get involved, please email emily@djrff.org