iCompute Finalist in two Bett Awards 2015

iCompute shortlisted for two BETT 2015 Awards

iCompute celebrate

iCompute finalists for two BETT Awards – 2015

iCompute, the digital computing scheme of work for primary schools, is proud to announce being shortlisted for the ‘Primary Digital Content’ and ‘Best Whole Course Subject Curriculum Resource’ BETT Awards 2015 for its whole-school and iPad computing scheme of work.

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Understanding Primary Computing and Ofsted

David Brown, Ofsted National Lead for Computing recently presented how computing will be inspected.   Here I highlight some important points for primary schools to consider.  Please note that italicized text are my own comments.

The three strands of computing as defined by most educational and industry experts have taken root and are:

  • Computer Science
  • Digital Literacy
  • Information Technology
Computing Strands

Click to download iCompute’s breakdown of computing strands against NC objectives for primary computing

Teaching

For Good or Better teaching, teachers have an enthusiasm and passion for computing.  Teachers use a wide variety of innovative and imaginative resources and teaching techniques.

Subject knowledge is excellent, continually up-to-date and demonstrates a high level of technical expertise – a challenge for primary teachers, most of whom have never been trained to teach computing.

Curriculum

The curriculum is broad and balanced and covers all three strands of computing.  It is imaginative, stimulating, progressive and set in contexts meaningful to the children.  The inspectors will be aware that older children will not have benefited from being taught a full computing programme of study for the preceding key stage.

Children use their knowledge, skills and understanding in realistic and challenging situations.  Pupils have comprehensive knowledge and understanding about how to stay safe when using new technologies.

Subject Leadership

High levels of subject expertise and vision with a strong record of innovation in computing.  CPD is well-targeted – accessing CPD in computing is difficult as there is currently a severe lack of primary computing experts nationally.

Access to computing equipment is outstanding and the school is likely to have promoted the use of mobile technologies – note this is ‘likely’ and can be achieved by using a small number of low-cost tablets.  Many of my schools with limited budgets use emulators (see iCompute’s Year 6 iApp unit) to teach children the benefits of mobile technologies where they are unable to physically use them.

There is an engaging, age-appropriate e-safety curriculum in place – In my opinion, this should not be a stand-alone curriculum.  E-Safety issues should be addressed, in context, in subjects and situations where pupils engage online (see more in this post).  This clearly will be in all areas of the curriculum, however computing presents obvious opportunities to discuss and develop understanding and skills about how to stay safe in a digital world.  In my curriculum, I clearly flag e-Safety issues where they are likely to occur in computing lessons and give guidance as to how to address them as well as provide, free, discrete e-Safety planning for schools who wish to cover e-Safety as a discrete subject (e.g. part of PHSE).

E-safety is a priority within the school and promoted throughout.  Staff receive regular training and rigorous policies are in place.

Primary Computing – Model Computing Policy

Computing Policy

iCompute Model Computing Policy

Click to download

With the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2, we’ve had requests from many schools using iCompute’s Primary Computing schemes of work to provide a model computing policy for them to adapt and use in their school.

 

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Primary Computing – Classroom Tips and Advice

computing lcassThe new primary computing curriculum becomes statutory in September with the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  Primary schools are now beginning to think seriously about, not only how to teach this new subject, but what it means for them in practical terms.  I’m being asked lots of questions in the run-up to its introduction, the most common, aside from improving subject knowledge, being: Should it be taught in a cross-curricular way or discretely?  How long for?  What about new hardware/software?  How will they cope with pupil support?

I’ve been teaching computing to primary children for a long time and here are some of my tips for what you will (and won’t) need; along with advice on how to manage your class and some possible teaching techniques you could use when you start teaching computing in September.

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Primary Computing – Risky Business – managing eSafety

Digital Safety

Lock engaging online down or manage it?

eSafety in Primary Schools

The primary computing curriculum aims to help young children develop the skills to become digitally literate enabling them to fully participate in an increasingly digital world: to communicate, collaborate, create and express themselves using technology.  The ever-increasing wealth of technologies available presents exciting, and rapidly evolving, opportunities to interact, socialise and learn online. But it also poses potential dangers and the new National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2, rightly, has a focus on teaching children to stay safe online.

In our changing technological world, we teachers need to better understand digital education as a pedagogy and I often get asked how I teach and manage eSafety in my classes.

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Primary Computing – A Teacher Guide for Mozilla Thimble

Mozilla Thimble

Create and share your own webpages with Mozilla Thimble

As part of my role as a primary computer science master teacher, I train teachers on how to teach the new primary computing curriculum.

When covering networks, the internet and the world wide web, I can’t wait to introduce teachers to the delights of Mozilla X-Ray Goggles (which everyone loves!) and basic web page creation using Mozilla Thimble: an online HTML editor.

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The Primary Computing Curriculum – You Go Girls!

girls computing

Computing is not just for boys

One of the reasons the new primary computing curriculum is being introduced is to address the issue that far fewer girls than boys study computer science in further and higher education and are therefore under-represented in industry.  There’s a perception that computer science is a bit of a boys subject and various laudable, although I feel somewhat patronising, efforts to ‘get girls coding’ usually take the form of designing activities that play to stereotypes: dressing up etc.  I’ve been teaching primary computing for a long time now and I’ve yet to have a single girl not be engaged in my lessons; although I do accept that this could largely be influenced by the fact that it is me teaching them.  And I’m about as girlie as you can get.  It’s difficult to judge which question I get stopped and asked most about in school – ‘Are we doing computing today?’ or ‘Where did you get your shoes?’

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Primary Computing – ‘Holding Back the Years’ Fears

Worried Computing Teacher

Worried your pupils will be ahead of you in computing?

The new National Curriculum for Computing at KS1 and KS2 is, arguably, one of the few subjects that primary teachers fear their pupils will know more about than themselves.

A question I frequently get asked is ‘How do you cope when the children know more than you do’?  As a Computer Scientist, it takes a lot to out-geek me but I know many teachers feel they have no hope of keeping ahead of the children they will be teaching.

There’s no need to.  Children seemingly racing ahead with what look like quite sophisticated software and systems is no guarantee of them making progress in computing; because you’re teaching them much more than just programming.  Here are a few tips on how to facilitate learning in computing whilst not holding your pupils back.

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Primary Computing Curriculum – planning guidance

Computing Skills Progression

Computing Skills Progression

This post has been superceded by How to Plan a Primary Computing Scheme of Work

 

 

 

 

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Guide to the Primary Computing Curriculum – Why I hate the term ‘code’

Primary Computing

Computing in Primary Schools

The primary computing curriculum became statutory in September 2014 and across the country teachers and schools are having a meltdown.  Here’s a new subject teachers have never been trained to teach and they have to teach children from the age of 5 how to ‘code’.

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