After months of anticipation, the new draft programmes of study for the new national curriculum for maintained primary schools in England was released today - read the full document online by clicking here.
Firstly (despite the name change from 'ICT' to 'Computing'), I must say that I'm pleased that the subject still has its own dedicated requirements - the draft curriculum which the previous Labour government were going to introduce basically had it spread across all the different subjects which I reckon would have reduced the quality of teaching and learning in all but the few schools which had specialist staff in them.
Secondly, I'm also pleased that the computing section is very short and brief - unlike other subjects such as history, not much content is dictated thefore giving teachers more freedom in what they have to teach. This also means that the document can be applied to any new technologies which become introduced in future years (the current ICT National Curriculum is full of references to CD-ROMs, for instance).
Looking at statutory requirements for each key stage, I think it's best to ignore any technical terms (which I reckon will just confuse many less techno-savy teachers) and to instead just focus on what actual lessons will need to be taught to the children:
- some lessons on 'control' - about half a term's work on programming a turtle (e.g. a Bee-Bot or the even better Pro-Bot) around: a floor mat, a sheet of paper on which to draw patterns/shapes and on-screen (such as using the Bee-Bot app or Focus on Bee-Bot software);
- an e-safety lesson or two (including labelling pictures of technology/communication devices used in the home);
- lots of lessons on presenting information in different forms of media using different programs/apps - painting images, capturing photographs/videos, basic word procsesing, making a simple e-book etc.
- a few lessons on Internet research using my Infant Encyclopedia.
With KS2, I would interpret the requirements into the following lessons:
- a unit of work on LOGO programming - repeating commands to draw shapes, calling procedures in a program (e.g. a 'leaf' procedure in a program to draw a plant);
- a unit of work on game making in Scratch in which the children make on-screen objects respond to user inputs (e.g. drive a car around an on-screen track in a racing game);
- a lesson on the benefits of using the Internet - possibly creating a mind-map showing the different services it offers like: e-mail, the WWW and online broadcasting;
- a few lessons on good Internet research skills - possibly just one per year with chance to apply skills in other subjects;
- a lesson at the start of each year on computer rules (e.g. take regular breaks, don't put drinks near computers, hold tablets with two hands, tap keys gently etc.);
- some lessons on e-safety to teach children how to: keep accounts secure (i.e. use strong passwords), only access child-friendly sites and respond safely to online hazards;
- lots of lessons on using different software applications for presenting and analysing information and data - this is a vast area but gives me lots of freedom in what I teach when to different year groups (e.g. I like to leave spreadsheets and formulae until upper KS2).
As you can see, I am fairly impressed with the proposed curriculum since I teach all of it already and so few changes will be required to my planning! I also particularly like the specific requirements to teach e-safety which although aren't a statutory requirement in the current curriculum, are inspected by Ofsted!
Literally the only 'issues' that I have with the requirements are:
- Children in KS1 are asked to manipulate 'data' - this term means numbers or words which have no meaning to a human. In my opinion, it should be followed by the phrase 'and information' (like the KS2 requirements state) as information is data which has been placed into a context (i.e. creating a purposeful piece of work like most teachers would ask children to do anyway).
- The word 'Internet' is actually a proper noun and needs a capital letter to start it.
- There is no mention of the word 'Internet' in KS1 - it would be nice if it could be included somehow.
That's my thoughts on the computing section of the new curriculum - what do you think of it?