Ofsted Review of Computing

Lack of Subject Knowledge & Resources a “main obstacle”

teaching computing

Ofsted has published its latest research review series [1] with the focus on computing. It states that “Digital technology is driving extraordinary global changes that some are calling the Fourth Industrial Revolution” and that “Navigating these changes effectively and safely requires a significant understanding of digital literacy, information technology and computer science”.

Computing has been statutory since 2014 for Key Stages 1-4 [2] and the review seeks to set out factors that contribute to a high-quality computing education.

Whilst computing in the Early Years is not part of the current framework, it is statutory from Year 1 and there is debate about the importance of learning computing early in education and that young children should experience teaching informed by expertise [3]. The inspectorate highlights the importance of teacher’s content and pedagogical knowledge in teaching a high quality computing curriculum. This is a challenge as a Royal Society UK-wide survey identified lack of subject knowledge and CPD as key obstacles faced by teachers in teaching computing [4]. The report also pointed to teachers finding it difficult to identify and select good quality teaching materials and content for computing.

The review identifies a high-quality computing education as one that interweaves the three strands of the curriculum: computer science, information technology and digital literacy; is rich in computer science; uses a variety of IT to create digital content set in meaningful contexts; does not assume children are digitally literate and has eSafety embedded.

At iCompute, we are teachers first and foremost. I was one of the first Primary Computer Science Master Teachers appointed by the organisation responsible for drafting the 2014 computing curriculum and was funded by the DfE to prepare schools in England for teaching computing when it was introduced. Since then, I’ve trained teachers around the world. When the curriculum was first introduced I feared that teachers would struggle to teach a subject they had never been trained for; which is why I created iCompute as I knew lack of teaching resources would be a major barrier to teaching computing confidently and well. Our scheme of work was the first commercial computing curriculum in the UK. It is founded on subject expertise and years of teaching experience. As computing is a dynamic subject, iCompute is constantly adapted and changed according to new technologies, research and pedagogies.

There have been many more schemes of work published since 2014 and the Government has spent millions in supporting computing through the National Centre of Computing Education. I am disappointed but not surprised to find that the review highlights that lack of subject knowledge and the ability to identify high quality computing resources remain factors that affect teachers being able to deliver a high quality computing education.

We need to do more to make sure schools and teachers have (and can access) the support they need because the aim of the National Curriculum to ‘equip pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world’ [2] is being hampered by their teacher’s lack of content, subject and pedagogical knowledge.

References

[1] Ofsted. (2022) Research Review Series: Computing. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/research-review-series-computing/research-review-series-computing (Accessed: 19/5/2022).

[2] Department for Education (2013) National curriculum in England: framework for key stages 1 to 4. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-curriculum-in-england-framework-for-key-stages-1-to-4 (Accessed: 19/5/2022).

[3] Manches, A. and Plowman, L. (2017) ‘Computing education in children’s early years: a call for debate’, British Journal of Educational Technology, 18(1).

[4] Tait, P. (2017) After the reboot: computing education in UK schools. Available at: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/computing-education/ (Accessed: 19/5/2022)

How to thrive during an Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing

Ofsted will be “deep diving” into a selection of subjects during their inspections with the “curriculum at the heart of inspection” focusing on curriculum intent, implementation and impact. I’ve previously written an article on this called inspecting computing for computing subject leaders. Now, with the benefit of feedback from schools using iCompute who’ve undergone a deep dive for computing, I explore what a deep dive for computing looks like with the aim of helping prepare computing leads.

I’ve also included a link (at the end of this post) to download a copy of my comprehensive guide to the Ofsted Framework and Ofsted Deep Dives for Computing which has been updated to include dozens of Ofsted Deep Dive questions our schools have been asked and support for addressing them.

Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing questions
Comprehensive set of Ofsted Deep Dive for Computing Questions
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Editable & Printable Scratch 3.0 Blocks

Scratch 3.0 Classroom Display & Unplugged Activities

iCompute Scratch 3.0

Scratch 3.0 Blocks

Scratch 3.0 is out now and, following on from my previous post where you can download editable printable Scratch 2.0 blocks, I’ve made a Scratch 3 version.

The file includes all Category blocks along with Extensions: Microbit, Makey Makey, Video Sensing, Pen, LEGO WeDo, LEGO EV3, Music, Text to Speech and Translate.

Available to download by clicking/tapping the Periodic Table of Scratch 3 Blocks image (see below).  The blocks can be edited and scaled using image editing tools (e.g. Illustrator, Inkscape, Vectr).  The blocks are also provided in .png format.

It’s important that children be given opportunities to interact with physical programming blocks to help them understand both their function and the underlying concepts.  I use them in groups for the children to program me and/or each other as well as programming using Scratch 3 itself.

Printable Scratch 3.0 Blocks

Click to download editable, printable Scratch 3 blocks

Published by iCompute and licensed under a Creative Commons license (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International.

Also available in the same format are Scratch 2.0 blocks and Scratch Jr blocks from this post.

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Computing Pedagogy

for Computing Mastery

Since the introduction to National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 in England 2014, it has been a child’s statutory entitlement to a computing education from the age of 5. There have been many challenges along the way since 2014 for primary teachers, not least, due to the subject being introduced throughout schools where the vast majority of teachers had never been trained to teach it.

Despite a number initiatives to improve teacher subject knowledge, notably driven by Computing At Schools (CAS) and the Network of Excellence (a grass-roots organisation I represent as a Computer Science Master Teacher) the Computing Education Project Report (The Royal Society, 2017) – exploring the issues facing computing in schools – concludes that computing education across the UK is ‘patchy and fragile’. There is much to address in a system where many teachers do not feel confident teaching the subject and are in need of significant support.

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Christmas Computing Activity

Create an Animated Snowman this Christmas

Christmas Animated Snowman Lesson

Click to download the lesson and resources

Christmas Animated SnowmanEveryone likes putting a festive twist on lessons during the approach to Christmas and I’ve been making festive computing lessons for my pupils.

I’ve recently produced a six week animation unit for Key Stage 2 (iAnimate) where the children learn about the history of animation, make their own flipping book animations, make thaumatropes and/or praxinoscopes, explore different animation techniques and, of course, design and make their own fantastic animations using apps and software.

This Christmas, I’ve put together a step-by-step computing lesson plan and teacher resources for creating an animated snowman GIF.  You can download the lesson and resources and use them your own classrooms for a little festive fun!

Christmas animated GIF

Create an animated GIF

The lesson plan contains lots of ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment: from making a very simple animated sequence to more able pupils:

  • animating backgrounds as well as characters and objects
  • adding 3D effects (e.g. shadows)
  • creating more frames for smoother movement
  • switching backgrounds to create scene changes
  • animating more than one object

A little festive flavour of what our full six week animation unit offers and another Christmas gift to you!

 

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Christmas Computing 🎄 Get Jolly Good at Coding

 Free Christmas Computing Resources

Here’s at iCompute Headquarters there’s nothing we like more than creating Christmas 🎄 themed resources.  I’ve been having a great time designing and developing new lesson plans, tutorials and programs for this year’s festive season.

My latest offering is an absolute Christmas cracker 🎉!  A coding tutorial for Microsoft Kodu.  Kodu is helping Santa 🎅🏻 deliver presents on Christmas Eve but needs your pupil’s help coding him to deliver the presents 🎁 to the right houses.  I’ve made a Kodu tutorial for your pupils to use that will guide them through the coding process before letting them get on with completing the activity and then having some festive fun by making it their own.

iCompute Christmas Kodu

Get the lesson plan & tutorial

 

iCompute Christmas Kodu Tutorial

Another free Christmas computing resource helps your pupils get jolly 🎅🏻 good at problem solving using key computational thinking skills such as abstraction, decomposition, generalisation and pattern spotting.

Computational thinking lies at the heart of the National Curriculum for Computing and our best selling (ERA and BETT nominated) schemes of work support schools teach it creatively and well.

Grab yourself a gift 🎁 with our free stuff for Christmas.   Visit www.icompute-uk.com for more free Christmas themed lesson plans and resources to support teaching primary computing.

christmas computing

Click to download

 

A Christmas Coding Lesson with PRIMM

Christmas Gift Catch

Christmas Coding Activity

Regular readers will know that I’ve previously created a 6 week coding unit for pupils aged 9-11 using BitsBox.  Bitsbox uses a simplified version of Javascript, and provides tools that enable pupils to develop their own apps.

It’s a great stepping stone from the blocks-based languages and environments your pupils may have already mastered (E.g. Scratch, App Inventor, Tynker etc) on to text-based languages.

PRIMM

I’ve been researching pedagogies to support computing mastery and PRIMM is a programming pedagogy developed by Dr Sue Sentence and the Computing Education team at Kings College London based on the notion that its difficult to become successful at writing code if you cannot read it.

I have created a Christmas themed step-by-step lesson plan that uses Bitsbox and I’m using the PRIMM approach for teaching programming.

PRIMM
Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make

PRIMM stands for Predict | Run | Investigate | Modify | Make.  The approach enables teachers to support pupils by giving them some code that they first understand and then build upon towards making their own.

It’s a great way to structure a lesson and think it’ll make a real difference to those pupils who have difficulty understanding some programming concepts.

Christmas Coding Activity Plan
Click to access the plan & resources

Feel free to download this lesson and try PRIMM in your own classroom.

Use the PRIMM programming approach to develop a program from a Christmas gift catching game into a new game

Challenge your pupils to design algorithms and program the game using a text-based programming language, variables and functions.

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As usual, lots of opportunities for differentiation.  For instance, less able pupils could use pupil support cards (see support resource which is included in the pack) and/or write a more simple version.  Your more able pupils could:

  • change the speed, direction and size falling presents
  • make the game multi-player and multi-level
  • complete the game to a time
  • create Game Over functions
  • create sound tracks and jingles for the app

Ideas for differentiation, extension and enrichment are included in the lesson plan.  Lots of opportunities to be inspired and get creative.

Check out my other coding lesson that uses BitsBox at http://www.icompute-uk.com/news/coding-apps/

Find out more about PRIMM and the research at https://icomp.site/primm

Explore computing pedagogy further aqt:

ERA Awards 2021

Education Resources Award Nomination for iCompute!

We are absolutely delighted to announce that the ERA Awards 2021 panel have shortlisted iCompute for a coveted educational resources award.

iCompute ERA 2021

Education Resource Awards 2021

The Education Resources Awards (ERA) are firmly established as a premier annual event to celebrate outstanding success for the suppliers and teaching professionals of the education sector throughout the UK.  The awards are recognised by the teaching profession as the benchmark of excellence.

After two rounds of judging, the panel selected iCompute as finalists in the Primary Computing (ICT) category according to rigorous criteria, taking into consideration the innovative nature of the products, their impact on teaching and learning in the classroom, and their cost effectiveness in terms of educational aims and results.

It is a huge honour to be amongst the other shortlisted organisations, schools and companies and we thank all of the teachers and schools who supported our nomination by providing amazing testimonials about how iCompute have improved teaching and learning in computing.

Find out more about iCompute’s primary computing curriculum and try our free computing resources by visiting our website.

Liane O’Kane, Founder/Author of iCompute, comments:

“Being shortlisted for an Education Resources Award is a fantastic achievement and a reflection of the dedication and hard work we put in to helping schools teach primary computing rigorously and well.  We constantly add to and update our computing schemes of work to bring innovative new computing resources and teaching materials that support and promote the teaching of computing around the world.  During the pandemic we are proud to be amongst the first to offer free home/remote learning resources enabling tens of thousands of children to continue learning throughout school closures.

We never take these things for granted and are very proud that our expertise and innovation in teaching & learning with, and about, technology has been recognised by ERA and BESA once again.”

The full list of finalists is available on the ERA Website.  ERA Awards 2021 winners will be announced at a virtual awards ceremony at 3pm on Friday 21st May.

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Coding Drones

Aiming High in Computing

Drone Lesson Plans

Aim High in Primary Computing

Using drones in schools has the potential to take learning, literally, to a higher level.  As they continue to become increasingly practical, attainable, tools for education, teachers around the world are now using drones in their classrooms for STEM and STEAM activities.

In computing, programming drones helps develop children’s skills in algorithms, programming and computational thinking as well as addressing the ‘controlling physical systems’ objectives of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 2.  Exciting curricula and drone lesson plans are being developed that help teachers develop confidence and make the most out of connected devices.

Drones are revolutionising business and industry:  engineers use the technology for site surveys, filmmakers capture images that would otherwise be unseen, drones are used in agriculture; farming; conservation; military operations and parcel deliveries.  The potential for the application of drones and the rapid growth in the technology is huge.  Understanding how they work, their potential and how to control them through coding prepares children for the modern working world.

iCompute lead the way in teaching and learning using educational technology.  In anticipation of 3D robotics becoming the next big thing in education, we have extended our connected devices offering of comprehensive, step-by-step lesson plans, computing resources and assessment toolkits using Sphero and LEGO™ WeDo by adding an amazing, creative, 6-8 week coding with drones unit aimed at upper KS2 Computing (pupils aged 9-11 or higher).

Children learn how to program mini drones to fly, create aerial shapes, navigate obstacles, fire ‘missiles’, pick up and drop objects all set in imaginative contexts.  They program Santa’s ‘sleigh’  to deliver presents before going on an epic journey to a Galaxy Far, Far Away to take out the Death Star for the Rebel Alliance!

Drone Lesson Plans

The Force is Strong with This One…Visit our website to unleash your power!

We have a limited number of class packs of Parrot Mini Drones available to purchase at iCompute.  Visit www.icompute-uk.com/purchase/purchase-2.html to find out more.

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New Periodic Table of Primary Computing Resources

New Year, New Tech

Computing Resources

Some schools have been teaching primary computing since its introduction into the National Curriculum in 2014 and some have yet to really get going.  Either way, the very nature of Computing is that things change rapidly and it’s time to start doing something new.

One of the things I like best about Computing is that you can’t churn out the same old lessons year on year.  Technology’s rapid development demands we pay attention to change; that we learn; that we adapt and, most importantly, that we create.

We owe it to our pupils to keep abreast of pedagogical and technological change.  I’ve put together a selection of the fantastic computing resources, tools and technologies that I use to teach Computing, some of which you’ll know but lots of which I hope are new and you’ll give a go.  I’ve turned it into a periodic table of primary computing resources, now with hyperlinks!  I keep banging on about this but Computing is more than just coding and lots of the resources listed here are for you to use with your pupils to teach the other strands of the curriculum (digital literacy, information technology and eSafety) as well as to use with cross curricular approaches.

Periodic table of primary computing apps

Click to download

 

 

 

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There are many, many, more and I’d love to hear how you have been getting on teaching computing in your classrooms as well as hearing about the resources you’ve been using.

Our primary computing schemes provide full, progressive, step-by-step, lesson plans and all associated lesson resources and worksheets using the tools and computing resources included in the table.  Visit our website for more information.