At our school we want our pupils to not only be confident users and consumers of technology but also to have the knowledge and skills to be the designers and creators of technology in the future. Technology is everywhere, it is continually evolving and it will play a pivotal part in the lives of our pupils. Therefore, we want to educate our pupils to become confident digital citizens who use technology positively, responsibly and safely. Our broad computing curriculum covers computer science, information technology and digital literacy to reflect this.
We have created comprehensive medium term plans and a progression document for staff to follow to best embed and cover each element of the computing curriculum. We understand that technology is always changing and our planning is reviewed annually to ensure it is current and relevant. We have divided the subject content into three categories that we have defined below.
Computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming.
Information technology, where we equip pupils to evaluate, explore and use the Internet and existing technology / programs to create and present their work using a range of digital content for different purposes.
Digital Literacy, in which pupils are taught to be positive and responsible users of technology who understand e-safety; knowing the limitations of technology and understanding the dangers and precautions that the use of technology requires. Digital Literacy includes digital citizenship and e-safety.
Within these categories, the content coverage for each key stage can be divided up into key knowledge and skills (see Table 1 below). The concept of knowledge refers to familiarity with factual information and theoretical concepts. When we use the term ‘skills’ we are referring to the ability to apply this knowledge to specific situations.
At Eton Wick School, most of the computing curriculum is taught during a weekly lesson allowing for the teaching of specific knowledge or skills. We recognise that computing has deep links with mathematics, science and design and technology and as such, it can be embedded in other areas of the curriculum. There are also opportunities to use, apply and evaluate information technology within other subjects (e.g.) using the Internet for research purposes in Geography or History, creating digital artwork; using presentation software in English and presenting work with an awareness of audience. For this to happen, teachers may need to plan an additional ‘tinkering session’ that introduces a new app or piece of software, giving pupils an opportunity to experiment and familiarise themselves with the different elements and tools before it can be applied in a more focused approach across the curriculum. Some aspects of computer science including computational thinking will be taught un-plugged; these are lessons in which students are not working on a computer or digital device.
The sequence of the curriculum
We have sequenced our curriculum (see Table 2) to begin with digital citizenship because of the growing amount of online activity that our pupils are involved in. We aim to develop their understanding of digital content and give them clear guidance on ‘best practice’ whilst also addressing some of the issues they may face. The term ends with Digital Citizenship Week, the third week of October.
We then move on to look at what technology is, how it is used and how it works. This is important because our pupils have become consumers of technology with little understanding of what is it and how it works. This knowledge and understanding will encourage pupils to think about the benefits of technology and hopefully inspire them to become the designers and creators of the technology of the future.
We begin the spring term, building on the digital literacy work of the autumn by focusing on e-safety, online content and use of the Internet. We take part in Safer Internet Day, 8th February and this forms part of our school’s Internet Safety Week each year. During this time, we aim to engage parents with the e-safety agenda and provide them with tips, advice, guides and resources to help them keep their children safe online. Each class has a mini-project to complete that can form part of their e-safety work or it can be linked to another area of the curriculum.
The second half of the spring term is dedicated to computer science and computational thinking. For Key stage 1 pupils, the focus is on understanding algorithms. Our Key stage 2 pupils develop their understanding of computer science concepts such as repetition, sequence, selection and variables. These units help prepare our children for the programming they do in the summer term.
We teach programming in the summer term because of its links with the mathematics curriculum and the topics taught. In maths, we teach geometry, position and direction in the Summer term which has a direct link with our practical and visual programming units of work. The concepts and vocabulary the children use in computing will support their work in maths and vice versa.
Finally, we end each academic year with an information technology unit where children have an opportunity to use, apply and evaluate technology. There are two information technology units, one to be taught in the second half of the summer term, and another to be taught at some point in the year as part of a cross-curricular topic.