COMPUTING: “Alan Turing gave us a mathematical model of digital computing
that has completely withstood the test of time. He gave us a very, very clear description that was truly prophetic." George Dyson
Our vision is for our children to be creators not only consumers of technology. We believe that we can fulfill this ambition through a computing curriculum that aims to enhance pupils’ enjoyment, resilience, understanding and attainment by empowering and equipping them with the knowledge, understanding and skills designed for computing mastery. A high-quality computing education equips children to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science, and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of computing is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, children are prepared to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that children become digitally literate – acquire and demonstrate the knowledge and skills – to express themselves and develop their ideas through information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world. We believe digital literacy is an essential element of computing, enabling children to stay safe online and access all areas of the computing curriculum.
We aim to teach computing effectively through providing a rich, broad and balanced computing curriculum fully mapped to the National Curriculum for Computing (DfE, 2013) across our school. Our curriculum offers children a computing education designed for mastery and covers all three strands of the computing curriculum: Computer Science, Information Technology and Digital Literacy (incl. Online Safety).
We believe mastery in computing means acquiring a deep, long-term, secure and adaptable understanding of the subject. This is demonstrated by how skilfully children can apply their learning to new situations in unfamiliar contexts. Technology is everywhere and will play a pivotal part in children's lives, therefore our computing curriculum is designed to provide children with the skills and knowledge they need to use technology safely and creatively. Computing is not just about memorising facts and vocabulary, it is about solving complex problems, being able to collaborate with others and learn from mistakes. Our aim is for our children to independently enjoy using technology while developing 21st-century skills. We want our children to understand that they have a choice when using technology. As a school we utilise technology to model positive use and promote safe online communication and feedback. We recognise that technology can allow children to share their learning in creative ways. We also understand the accessibility opportunities technology can provide for children. Our knowledge rich curriculum has been balanced with opportunities for children to apply their knowledge creatively, which will in turn help them to become skilful computer scientists. We encourage staff to try and embed computing and technology across the curriculum to make learning creative and accessible through using technology in a considered manner to further support children’s learning in line with latest research from the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) (Using Digital Technology to Improve Learning, March 2019). We want our children to be fluent with a range of tools to best express their understanding. This will allow greater independence and confidence when choosing the best tool to fulfill the task and challenge set by teachers.
How we plan for and teach computing
Our curriculum is carefully mapped out to ensure that children acquire knowledge, vocabulary and skills in a well-thought out and progressive manner. Working in collaboration with an external consultancy, each teacher follows a combination of NCCE or Purple Mash computing units and Computer Science lessons structured using the Code Studio planning and progression documents. The NCCE and Code Studio schemes highlight the knowledge, skills and vocabulary for each year group and are progressive from year to year. Themes are revisited regularly (at least once in each year group), and children revisit each theme through new units of work that consolidate and build on prior learning within that theme. We teach computing both discretely and apply learned skills in cross curricular contexts when clear links with other subjects are present. Our Computing units and progression model is broken down into four strands that make up our computing curriculum. These are Functional Skills, Computer Science, Information Technology and Digital Literacy.
Functional Skills: through our use of Google Education, we ensure the children have the core basic skills to use multiple devices, this is designed to promote independence.
Computer Science: underlines the knowledge and skills relating to computational thinking, coding, algorithms and networks.
Information Technology: underlines the knowledge and skills relating to digital communication, creating multimedia content and data representation/handling.
Digital Literacy: underlines the knowledge and skills relating to online safety and technology in society.
Children are taught through both our whole-class interactive teaching in Years 5 and 6, as well as our 'committed to excellence' approach in EYFS to Year 4. Lessons are sequenced so that concepts are developed in logical steps with particular attention given to fundamental concepts. We believe in a curriculum that meets the interests of all learners, with a range of exciting creative activities and open-ended challenges based on the essential requirements of the computing program of study. Our children have access to a variety of resources that enable them to continue the learning of computing at home for example Google Classroom and Purple Mash. Through these the children are able to complete set tasks and save their work virtually so that it can be shared both in school and at home with teachers and parents. The role of parents is recognised and they are involved in understanding how to keep their children safe at home and have access to our monthly Staying Safe Online newsletter.
Computer Science units reflect a number of teaching strategies including the ‘predict, run, investigate, modify, make’ (PRIMM) model to support children to develop their knowledge and skills in computer programming effectively. The units also make use of the TIPP and SEE structured scaffolding strategy, and Parsons Problems which require learners to place given lines of code into the correct order to form a working code segment. Code Studio courses are designed so that the teacher also acts as the lead learner. They will begin by exposing the computer science concept to students as an abstract concept, unpacking it by linking it to everyday experience, then putting it into a different context, and using simpler, more concrete examples. The video resources can often be used to support this. Teachers will then repack the knowledge back into the abstract form. This could be in the form of an algorithm which will then be turned into code for the computer to execute.
How we evaluate learning in computing
The biggest impact we want on our children is that they understand the potential and capabilities of technology and that they are also aware of how to maintain a safe and healthy digital life. We measure the impact of our curriculum through teachers continually evaluating children’s learning through both formative and summative assessment opportunities. In each lesson, teachers ensure children are assessed against the learning objectives and planning is responsive to gaps and misconceptions. Each unit uses different assessment approaches to assess the retention of new knowledge, skills and vocabulary. The impact of our computing curriculum can clearly be seen in projects that children create as well as presentations created as digital content. Programs that children write code for are saved digitally and accessed by teachers to ensure achievement of learning objectives. Children have the opportunity to self-assess the content they have created, as well as peer-assess. In each year group, children use previously learned skills and apply them to new software and coding programs. Our children leave Freshfield equipped with a range of knowledge and skills that enable them to succeed in their secondary education and be active participants in the digital world.
Please click here for more detailed information about Computing learning in each year group.