BY Louise Wade | Advisory Teacher and Computer Teacher in multiple schools across North and South London | @louisewade07

 

From September 2014, primary schools were expected to deliver a rigorous new computing curriculum. The changes ensured primary school children would have practical experience of designing and writing computer programs, so that they could understand the fundamental principles of computer science. Primary school teacher, Louise Wade, shares her experience of the early stages of the computing curriculum implementation in her school and reflects on her personal subject and pedagogical knowledge development.

A self-confessed social media ‘lurker’, I have benefited from a community of practitioners sharing regular engaging content on social media. By establishing my own personal learning network on Twitter, I was able to keep up-to-date with ideas and resources which I’ve found particularly useful.

All this online community support and my learning journey has encouraged me to reflect on how to deliver a high-quality computing education. The early days – trying to understand the demands of the ‘new’ curriculum; what to each, when and in what order – seem a distant memory now.

The excellent Teach Computing resources helped improve and balance my curriculum, and this was reflected in the children’s enthusiasm for the subject and the improvement in pupil outcomes. Yet there is still much work to be done.

The 2019 Ofsted inspection framework makes clear the high ambitions we need for all our children. Stating the curriculum should be ‘designed to give all learners, particularly the most disadvantaged and those with special educational needs and/or disabilities (SEND), the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life’. No child is to be excluded or left behind.

2020 presented many new challenges for teachers and young people – not least the expectation to deliver and engage with a rich online curriculum that not only needed a physical device, but the digital skills and knowledge to use it safely.

Learning from home has been a success for our school. However, if lended learning is here to stay, I find myself asking – what is the future significance of this method of delivering the curriculum and how will it impact the achievement of children from all backgrounds and abilities?

Before the pandemic, the Government had already highlighted the need for a workforce educated for the digital world. This will require convincing more schools to teach computing and more young people to take up the subject at GCSE, A level and at university. The positive news is that we have started to make some progress with the increase in girls taking GCSE Computer Science.

All of this is food for thought and a heavy load to be placed on the shoulders of the primary computing lead. A role that has seen its responsibilities go from informal technology advocate and trouble-shooter, to managing a blended curriculum, with the responsibility for ensuring the engagement of all stakeholders. Teachers are always thinking of new ways to engage pupils who are not succeeding and to close the achievement gap that other areas of the curriculum are facing. Is it reasonable to think we could apply the same strategies to reduce the achievement gap within computing?

 

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