Tech Partnership national occupational standards for Software Testing

I’ve been involved in alternative teaching and training since 2013, particularly running apprenticeships. One area that has always been a problem has been the curriculum around software testing.

Tech Partnership has just launched a consultation for their National Occupational Standards for Software Testing . I would encourage anyone working in the UK to review and provide feedback through the survey.

What needs to change in the curriculum?

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That link doesn’t seem to work! This is something I’d be very interested in seeing as it is part of my #makeatester plan to look at building out a syllabus with help of the wider community


@sjprior the survey on the proposed curriculum was only open for a month. I didn’t get enough testers to give feedback to stop the rubbish from being pushed through by ISTQB players.

The actual non-profit that created this framework no longer exists and orgs got to submit proposals for ownership. BCS won ownership but I find them very inflexible on improving.

The framework is here Deliver Software Tester (level 4) | BCS

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It would be possible to create a competing specification but it would have to meet government requirements and approval. Getting providers for the existing software testers framework is hard, so they might be a sticking point. Getting big name backers would help but I failed to get enough in 2014 and 2015

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Yeah it may be tough. My plan along with the other co-hosts of the Testing Peers podcast is to reach out to all UK universities which cover Computer Science to see where they are at with teaching Testing. Then with the help of the community (which I’m hopeful has evolved since 2014/2015) and build out a collaborative syllabus which we can then work with the Universities on implementing.

It’s a long shot, but even raising some awareness of the importance of testing to the SDLc will help


You don’t need to reach out to the universities (if you do they are terrible slow at responding) as all the modules are published online for prospective students. Modules are the key issue in getting change at the universities:

  • Modules are more based on the personal or professional interests of the senior teaching staff. They are often related in to their research area
  • They don’t use standard curriculums for the modules
  • To create or significantly change a module the outline + key content has to be first created then reviewed. Once approved it is marketed from the following September to the student intake in a years time. So if you got a module approved its likely to be 5 years before you see a graduate.

For my personal effort for driving change, I have only seen the change appear within the last 12. months.

I’m not saying any of this to put you off, its my experience and learning to help you avoid some of my mistakes.

Taking on sandwich students is the best way I have found to influence a university department, and at least you change educate a small group of people. I would also say the students don’t really use anything they have learn’t in a degree on a placement, and most say they learn’t more in 2 weeks with me then they did in previous 2 years at University.

Bare in mind that SDLC and programming provision are already very poor within the degrees, also the amount of people who leave the course but don’t go into the profession (50-60% rate). If you want to implement change then university might not be the best vector.

At the Apprenticeships level is entirely possible to create an approved Apprenticeship scheme and deliver it as a commercial organisation, I even know someone who has done it for Marketing. You would have to create the framework and teach it before trying to get providers or colleges to deliver it.

I personally would like to go the Apprenticeship route as a driver for change but it’s not really practical on my own.

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You are right, there are lots of angles to attack. I had some success in discussing with the comp sci departments at a couple of universities a couple of years ago who were keen to make their courses more industry relevant and that is the plan.

But you are right, there may be more fruitful angles elsewhere


Universities like Sheffield Hallam, and I assume most others, have boards where they meet with industry as “critical friends” to help make course content relevant to employers.

So they do listen, if anyone is willing to talk to them.

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Yes I was on the industry board for Buckinghamshire University and Uni of Buckingham. Made some real progress too


I’m on a number of industry boards at several institutions at different levels, they are happy to listen but concrete action is harder to come by with the boards. I’ve had more success getting change with direct relationships with the people who create/teach the modules, and building those the placement program and sponsoring final year projects.

On the subject of industry boards, I have a lot more success with the college ones at Level 3 and 4 as they need the employers to take on the students so the relationship needs to be tight. Changes also only take 12 to 18 months to implement if it framework has wiggle room.

A number of colleges are licensing the Open University degrees, perhaps that would be a route to reach many