Our lead consultant and trainer is Neil Rickus. He is the founder of Computing Champions and an experienced primary school teacher.
Neil is a Senior Lecturer in Computing Education at the University of Hertfordshire. He is also the Computing tutor on the Primary PGCE courses for Brunel University, London, an External Examiner for Roehampton University’s BA Primary Education and was previously a tutor at the University of Leeds. He has successfully prepared hundreds of trainee teachers for life in schools and delivered a diverse range of sessions – from getting started with Interactive Whiteboards to using programming languages with the Raspberry Pi. He is regularly a guest lecturer on Masters level courses and a trainer with the National Science Learning Centre (NSLC) at the University of York, where his main focus has been on the use of gaming technology in the classroom. Neil also continues to teach Computing to children in a range of school settings.
His work is increasingly recognised at an international level and, within the last year, Neil hosted sessions at the US Computer Science Teachers’ Association (CSTA) conference in Nebraska, USA, presented on behalf of the British Council in Belgrade, Serbia, as part of their “New Technologies in Education Conference” and at the International Scratch conference in Bordeaux, France. Neil has recently worked as a consultant for Cambridge Assessment International Education (part of the University of Cambridge) in Astana, Kazakhstan, to ensure teachers in the government’s flagship Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools are able to deliver their revised computing schemes of work. Neil was also a lead contributor to European Schoolnet Academy’s (Brussels) “How to teach computing” MOOC and the revision of Cambridge’s “ICT Starters” qualification. He regularly contributes to a range of magazines / blogs, including “Hello World” and “TES”, and academic text books, such as “Unlocking Speaking and Listening: Developing Spoken Language in the Primary Classroom”.
Within the UK, Neil’s most recent work has involved preparing primary school teachers for the new primary Computing National Curriculum; as both an independent consultant and for Rising Stars / Computing at School (CAS). Through his membership of NAACE, Neil also contributed to the professional body’s response on the government’s proposals for the revised curriculum. He is an approved examiner / moderator for Cambridge’s iGCSEs, in addition to an assessor for the CAS / BCS Certificate in Computer Science Teaching. Neil is a Raspberry Pi, Microsoft and Google (Level 1) Certified Educator.
When working directly with schools, Neil has worked with senior management and teaching staff to effectively develop ICT usage. Whether developing cross-curricular subject links, enhancing VLE usage or using assessment data effectively, Neil is able to advise on appropriate, cost-effective solutions to enable your school to get the maximum benefit from technology.
Through his work as a CEOP (Child Exploitation and Online Protection) Ambassador, Neil has a particular interest in promoting e-Safety and preventing cyber-bullying. He has delivered sessions to staff, parents and children outlining the dangers posed by technology and how to stay safe online. Neil has experience of developing acceptable usage policies, in addition to working with management on responding to and managing inappropriate online behaviour. Other recent projects have included iPad trials and the use of blogs to improve boys’ motivation in Literacy.
With regards to qualifications, Neil holds an MA in Teaching (distinction), a Primary PGCE with QTS and a BSc (Hons) in Computing (first class) – all from the University of Leeds. He is also a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA) and a Member of the British Computer Society (MBCS). Prior to working as a primary school teacher, he was a project manager with Vodafone UK. During this time, Neil successfully passed his Prince 2 Practitioner examinations and spent three months teaching teachers basic computer skills in South Africa. He has also worked as an adult ICT tutor for Oxfordshire County Council and enjoys teaching learners with limited prior computing knowledge.
When not teaching, Neil can often be found volunteering with a range of organisations including Archelon (the Sea Turtle Protection Society of Greece) in Crete and the Atlantic Whale Foundation in Tenerife. He is also a keen sportsman and avid Geocacher!