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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Ofsted Inspection Framework: for Computing Subject Leaders

Inspecting Computing

The new Ofsted Inspection Framework [3] came into effect in September 2019.  With the emphasis on ‘offering a curriculum that is broad, rich and deep’, here I take a look at its implications for Computing Subject Leaders.

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Primary Computing Provision

Good or Better Primary Computing?

 

Observation

Computing Observation

Inspired by the great set of questions produced by Miles Berry – for school experience tutors to ask when observing trainee teachers in Computing – I’ve produced my own set for schools to reflect on regarding their computing provision which, hopefully, can be used to inform future plans.

The questions cover most of David Brown’s (former HMI lead for Computing) thoughts for inspecting computing – with a few tweaks!

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Primary Computing Curriculum Coverage

Have you got it covered?

The primary computing curriculum has now been statutory since September 2014 with the introduction of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2.  All schools should now be teaching a broad and balanced computing curriculum that provides full curriculum coverage of the aims and objectives of the National Curriculum for Computing.  But are they?

computing-covered

Think you’re “doing” Computing?

There seems to be a wealth of resources available now to help teachers teach computing.  There’s lots of stuff online.  Even better, free stuff!  Gather all that; organise it (roughly) into year groups and that’s Computing sorted!

The trouble is, most of it is targeted to help schools in only one aspect of the computing curriculum: coding.  And Computing is so much more than just coding.

School’s really don’t have it covered if that’s all they’re doing. Or, even, if they’re doing some bits on eSafety too; or one lesson about networks before falling back to those old ICT units (Word processing, Spreadsheets and good-old Powerpoint) that someone – now long gone from the school – put together from the QCA ICT scheme of work back in 2000.  Or, even, if they bought a scheme adapted from an old ICT scheme with about twelve extra lessons on coding added in.  Schools are being let down. More importantly, they’re letting pupils down.

In what other subject is it okay for teachers to admit they know nothing about the subject they teach? To proffer copying answers and children teaching each other as the only pedagogical approaches?  In what other profession would teachers offer support and training whilst freely admitting you know very little?  Would it be acceptable for a maths coordinator to miss out all of the bits of maths they don’t understand? Or teach from outdated materials?  –  ‘Look, I don’t really like that the government want us to teach graphs and algebra and some other hard bits and I’ve got some really good stuff on counting with an abacus that I found on Wikipedia via the Ancient Chinese so I’m going to do that all year instead’.

I don’t care whose materials schools use or who helps teachers, as long as they’re good because what I do, passionately, care about is that children are taught computing well.  And I don’t think they are.  Most schools aren’t teaching it properly.  Schools need to give computing the status and comprehensive coverage it deserves.

The three strands of computing are:

  • Computer Science
  • Digital Literacy (incl. eSafety)
  • Information Technology

Computing Strands

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

According to Ofsted inspection guidance for 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.

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.

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.

Access to computing equipment is outstanding and the school is likely to have promoted the use of mobile technologies.

There is an engaging, age-appropriate e-safety curriculum in place.

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

How are you doing?

reflecting on computing

Reflective Practitioner

Children have a statutory entitlement to a high-quality computing education.  I encourage you to reflect on the practice and provision within your school.

In doing so, here are some questions you could use as a basis for reflection:

Staff

Do all staff have:

  • good or better subject knowledge?
  • good or better subject pedagogy?
  • the ability and time to develop comprehensive, progressive, computing curricula?
  • high expectations of learning in computing?

Curriculum

Do you have a computing curriculum that:

  • provides full coverage of the National Curriculum for Computing at Key Stage 1 & 2?
  • is broad, balanced and meets the needs of all learners?
  • is engaging and inclusive?
  • uses a rich and varied range of software, tools and technologies?
  • supports teaching and learning with comprehensive assessment guidance?

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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.