What’s a London CLC primary computing conference like?

From design thinking to Pixar’s 22 rules of storytelling, unplugged computational thinking to light-up cities, you can guarantee that a London CLC primary computing conference will be varied, enlightening and always inspiring.

Twice a year, primary school computing subject leaders gather at London CLC’s HQ in Clapham for a packed day of CPD. What can you expect from the day? Here’s a glimpse, with highlights from our most recent conference.

Oli Reese introduces Dsign Thinking.
Oli Rees introduces Design Thinking.


Keynote presentations are an opportunity to hear from someone with fresh ideas you might not normally come across in your working life. They could be from outside the primary teaching world, possibly even beyond the education sphere altogether, but they will always present concepts and tools that have a relevance to the work you do.

At the June conference we welcomed Oli Rees, who trains Google’s apprentices in design thinking, and he explored the importance of audience and purpose in digital making. He pointed out that design thinking, which is often ignored in education around technology, is about not what you could build but what you should build. One of the things that tends to be missing from a lot of children’s programming activities is taking an idea through the design process to the end. He urged that, when we take children into the IT suite, we try to start on paper, with the design thinking: what is it you are going to do and why? Think about personas and the audience, who is this for and what do they need to know and do? For those who may be wary of technology, Oli advised that “when you combine a project-based approach and design thinking it encourages people to suspend their disbelief about technology. It reframes the perception of what something is about so it becomes something they can relate to.”

Updates are a crucial part of the day, making sure everyone goes home with useful, actionable information.


We know that updates are one of the conference elements that teachers really find useful – solid, essential information that can be taken back to school and shared. This summer’s conference updates included:

Fun with Crumbles and Sparkles.
Fun with Crumbles and Sparkles.

Hands-on workshops

This is where you get stuck in! There is usually the opportunity to choose three workshops out of six and you are guaranteed to come away with ideas to use in class. For example, when participants in our June conference explored design thinking with Oli Reese, they spent time developing personas and user journeys, learning how to help pupils take a wider view about why they are designing code, who is it for and what it needs to achieve.

There was also an Unplugged workshop, looking at how concepts and skills can be usefully developed away from the screen. In the Light-up city workshop, teachers got a taste of what a pupil workshop is like, using Crumble and Sparkle to create circuits then delving into the arts and crafts crate to make buildings that light up thanks to the technology. Swift Playgrounds, Apple’s free coding app released as part of the ‘Everyone Can Code’ initiative, develops pupil coding skills beyond block-based coding, and this workshop explored it in a hands-on way.

The pedagogy of programming workshop looked at different levels of scaffolding and the impact that they have on pupil learning. Meanwhile, in supporting children’s storytelling with technology, teachers took on board Bruner’s assertion that  “world creation is an act of imagination. It underpins all thinking” and learnt how to make a short animation with Adobe Spark (while being introduced to lots of other storytelling resources along the way).

Did we mention the tasty lunch?


Time and again teachers tell us how much they value the community of practice we enable – the opportunity to share ideas and experiences and hear how others are tackling an issue – whether that’s in the sessions or over delicious food in the lunch break. Here’s what a few teachers had to say recently after attending the summer conference:

“At the conferences it’s the sharing of ideas, learning about updates, people sharing their experiences, networking, finding out about what’s happening in other schools as well as exciting things such as the sessions we’ve had this morning.” (Dougal, curriculum coordinator)

“The conferences are excellent, we get lots of updates on what’s new and reminders as well of things that you knew about but need to go back and highlight at school. They always bring in different speakers with interesting ideas and concepts.” (Katy, year two teacher and computing coordinator)

“Thinking about it? Definitely sign up. You’ll come away with a load of useful ideas, practical things to use in lessons, it gets you thinking about what you’re going to change, what you’re going to do differently in your school. It also helps to hear ideas from colleagues in different schools.“ Joy, IT coordinator teaching nursery and years one and beyond).

Interested in finding out more? Get in touch on [email protected] or give James a call on 0207 720 7514. Our next primary computing conference is on 5 December [link] but if you can’t wait that long, why not have a look at some of our other CPD opportunities, such as Creative Arts Forum, New to subject leadership in primary computing or data security for schools? Find out more on our website.

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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.

- 15:30
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.


The Play Observatory - Prof. John Potter

“In their own words”: Westminster Abbey & CLC digital projects - Sian Shaw

Building (and maintaining) a city-wide primary arts curriculum to raise attainment - Kate Fellows

More to be added soon

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 (details below) 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.

- 11:30
KS1, KS2
Subject leaders, Teachers...

Upcoming Special projects

The News Project
- 14:25

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

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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