Five ways to refresh the computing curriculum in your primary school

Over the last two years, technology has become more integral than ever to schools. Digital has been at the heart of remote and blended learning, and at the CLC we’ve seen the skills of teachers and pupils improve hugely over this time, writes Caitlin McMillan, CLC teaching and learning consultant.

But we are also hearing from schools that computing as a subject has taken a bit of a back seat. So we’ve put together these five top tips to help you kickstart computing in your school.

1. Think about what you’re doing already

First up, some good news. You are definitely already addressing the computing curriculum if you are using technology in your school.

It’s important to remember that the computing curriculum is not just about computer science – digital literacy and IT are also essential components and perhaps easier to explore in a cross-curricular fashion.

If you’ve been doing film-making or audio recording, using a learning platform, designing presentations or making digital works of art then you’ve been using IT. So talk to your colleagues and find out how they are using technology in their classes – chances are they’re covering parts of the curriculum already.

2. Start early

Embedding computational thinking skills can start as early as EYFS. In fact, we’d suggest that this is the perfect time to start helping your pupils to explore the ideas and concepts that they will need as they progress their computing education.

Computing at EYFS doesn’t have to be about devices and screen time – at this age we’re thinking about problem-solving and collaboration, using skills such as pattern, sequencing, instructions, and planning to enhance digital competence.

At the CLC, we’ve been working on an Erasmus-funded project exploring this very topic. You can find out more about Co-Make here.

Barefoot computing is also worth taking a look at. They have some great and, crucially, free resources that are mapped to curriculum links and computational thinking approaches. You can find their EYFS offer here.

3. Update your online safety

Now is the perfect time to update your online safety offer. With increased screen time over the last two years (for adults and children alike) has come a new set of concerns along with a more resources to help. Here are a few to explore:

  • This TikTok checklist from SWGfL is a great source of information on 2021’s most visited website.
  • Inclusive digital safety can help to protect the most vulnerable and at-risk children. These resources from internetmatters.org are a good place to start.
  • Updates to ‘Keeping Children Safe in Education’ include additional sections on online safety.
  • The theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day is ‘All fun and games? Exploring respect and relationships online’. As usual, they have a wealth of resources for children, teachers and parents. Check them out here

4. Embrace projects

Computing as a subject lends itself brilliantly to longer-form project work. Whether it is a film-making (like in our ‘Making a Difference’ collaboration with Westminster Abbey) or the coding activity like that set in our Game Changer Challenge, allowing pupils to work on a project over a series of weeks.

As well as giving pupils the opportunity to really flex their coding/film-making/audio recording muscles, longer-form projects allow pupils to really spend time on planning and design, skills that often get overlooked when time is tight. If you’re looking for ideas on how to incorporate design thinking into your classroom projects, you can check out our free TechPathways London course ‘Design Thinking - an introduction’.

NB Using a web-based programme like Scratch means that pupils can use home learning time to work on their projects (and can be very useful in situations of blended learning).

5. Focus on the pedagogy

With many teachers now becoming more confident in their use of digital technology, now is the time to really dig down into the pedagogy of programming. 

This is an evolving field, especially at primary level, but there are a number of approaches that can help you with lesson planning and support scaffolding.

Take a look at these Teach Computing articles exploring PRIMM (Predict, Run, Investigate, Modify and Make) and the CS-SCIC (Computer Science Student-Centred Instructional Continuum) for ideas on how to structure your approach to computing activities.

To take your computer science teaching to the next level, you can also check out the ‘Code Like a Pro’ resources written by CLC teaching and learning consultant Rowan Roberts in consultation with software industry professionals. The course aims to support students to develop the ability to create, evaluate and improve the inner workings of software at a range of levels, turning a good Scratch programmer into a great one.

You can try the free online course for yourself here or watch the recording of a teach-meet with industry input from Marius Rubin, CTO of technology consultancy Credera UK.

Book now

Summer primary school computing conference

14/06/22,
09:15
- 15:30

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

Does your school need a sustained programme in the use of digital technology to underpin your whole school aims and plans?

Our support package covers the following:

Professional learning

Teacher professional development which puts digital at the heart of teaching and learning

Pupil workshops

Engaging, practical workshops for your class, in your school, at our Clapham centre online

Creative technology projects

Engaging, immersive educational experiences with corporate and cultural partners

Consultancy & advice

Get tailored support from our expert team of teachers and technologists

Technology loans

Kit for every classroom

Book a call
with James

Upcoming CPD

Summer primary school computing conference
Summer primary school computing conference

This event will build upon the Autumn computing conference by inviting subject leaders to reflect on their year in the role, sharing their successes and challenges. It will also introduce new ideas, tools and approaches through talks and practical activities led by members of the CLC team, with opportunities for attendees to share their own expertise and experience. Over the course of the conference activities will touch on the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science, digital literacy and information technology. We will also feature advice and examples illustrating the use of technology to support blended learning.

14/06/22,
09:15
- 15:30
EYFS, KS1, KS2
Computing subject leaders, Teachers...
Creative Arts, Digital and children – CLC meets More Than Robots online
Creative Arts, Digital and children - CLC meets More Than Robots online

Combining forces for the first time, the Connected Learning Centre and More Than Robots have created a session for teachers, youth organisations, researchers and policymakers interested in the digital provision of creative arts for primary aged pupils.

This interactive and inclusive meet up will include inspiring examples of how technology can be used to support learning in music, visual art and drama in person and online at home drawing on our experiences as Tate Exchange associates and our partnership work with a range of cultural institutions. 

This informal event is an opportunity to discuss real examples of what does/doesn’t work, meet colleagues from other sectors working on similar challenges and share useful research, news or updates

The morning will include case study presentations followed by a Q&A. There will also be an opportunity for a rapid sharing round for launches, project updates or requests for help and a short break to avoid zoom brain drain.

24/06/22,
09:30
- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
25/11/21,
09:30
- 14:25
KS2

Special project in collaboration with First News Education

For a third year, building on two successful previous projects, we are once again partnering with the children’s newspaper First News, fellow member of the national Making Sense of Media and News Literacy networks. This special project with a literacy, PSHE and citizenship, as well as computing focus, highlights our specialist interest in this important aspect of digital and critical literacy.

The News Project will enable participating classes from year 5 to immerse themselves in news and current affairs using First News and the Bett award-winning First News iHUB, which will be provided free of charge during the school-based part of the project over a six week period. Under the guidance of their teacher, pupils will be supported in their development as a community of fully informed news readers. Classes will test their new critical skills and knowledge in the culminating virtual celebration event which will include a news competition and team-based critical literacy and editorial activities. After the event, schools will be able to use the resources from the day in their school.

The project will launch with an introductory CPD session for teachers to set the context, demonstrate resources and to plan for the school-based activities. 

Initial CPD session - Thursday 21st October 4pm-5.00pm. 

Project work undertaken in school - October and November.

Special event - Thursday 25th November 9.30am-2.45pm.

The Garden Museum
21/02/22,
-
KS1

The CLC is once again partnering with the Garden Museum to offer a partnership project for KS1 pupils (primarily suited to Yr2). Located next to Lambeth Palace on the bank of the Thames, the museum has an inspiring collection that provides the ideal stimulus for young learners to explore the world around them.

Pupils will use technology alongside the museum’s collection to explore the wonderful world of seeds.

  • How are they planted?
  • How do they spread?
  • What is inside them?

 The Garden Museum has a large collection of seeds and tools that pupils will engage with.

These half-day sessions will take place at the Garden Museum.

There is a limited number of dates available, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

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