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.

Find out how iCompute can help your school demonstrate a quality computing education through the ‘Three I’s’ and during a Deep Dive by reading my posts “Ofsted Inspection Framework for Computing” and “How to Thrive During a Deep Dive of Computing“.


[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)