The computing curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas. Our aim is to provide a high-quality computing education which equips children to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. We want to provide them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the computing National Curriculum, but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For example, as part of Science week, all our children were able to travel through space and time and discover the wonders of the universe in an immersive, full dome planetarium. Using the latest video technology, the children visited the moon and saw Earth from a different perspective through a cinematic experience to remember. The children really enjoyed their experience and it is something the school will be looking to repeat in the future. It really was ‘out of this world!’
We want our children to use the vibrancy of our great city to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the computing curriculum. For example, Safer Internet Day 2020 was celebrated globally on Tuesday 11th February 2020 with the theme: Together for a better internet. St Elizabeth’s was one of the thousands of organisations across the UK who got involved to help encourage conversation about using technology respectfully, responsibly, positively and creatively. By celebrating the positive power of the internet, the Safer Internet Day slogan of “Together for a better internet” encourages our children to join the movement, to participate, and to make the most of the internet’s potential to bring people together. Classes engaged in a number of age-appropriate activities which focused on the role the internet plays in the lives of young people in terms of their relationships and being respectful to others online, as well as protecting their own online reputations and digital well-being. We love celebrating Safer Internet Day here at St Elizabeth’s Catholic Primary School.
We aim to create a better internet by equipping our children with digital literacy skills and by developing their critical thinking skills, which will allow them to better navigate the online world. They will become empowered to create their own content, make considered choices online, and can set a personal example of positive online behaviour. For example, Year 6 have been producing their own online content through the creation of blogs, which they have explored in school and have access to at home in order to update and edit. Computing is a diverse subject which is laced throughout the curriculum and can enhance the curriculum being taught in a fun and dynamic way. For example, Year 6 have also been using technology within their RE lessons through the use of podcasts. They have been working on delivering ‘Thoughts of the Day’ in relation to scripture and broadcasting this material in their podcasts. By raising awareness of how to stay safe online, whilst promoting the benefits of seeking out positive opportunities to create and connect, will certify a better internet together.
We enrich the children’s time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. We are fortunate to have links and connections with local Secondary schools and Universities that can give our children access to the latest technology and workshops on how to use it safely and securely. For example, earlier this year, Year 5 had the opportunity to visit Kings Leadership Acadmey Hawthornes to access their specialised software. The children were exposed to digital devices such as 3D printing and were able to use laser equipment to design and create an acrylic keyring. The children were inspired and eager to explore this type of technology and our curriculum teaches children key knowledge about how computers and computer systems work, and how they are designed and programmed. We also have fantastic days led by specialists from MGL whereby all children get the opportunity to work with a variety of equipment to tackle computing based challenges. The children learn about the principles of coding and how the equipment we have around us works before participating in some intriguing and fascinating practical activities.
By the time the children leave St Elizabeth’s, they will have gained key knowledge and skills in the three main areas of the computing curriculum: computer science (programming and understanding how digital systems work), information technology (using computer systems to store, retrieve and send information) and digital literacy (evaluating digital content and using technology safely and respectfully). The objectives within each strand support the development of learning across the key stages, ensuring a solid grounding for future learning and beyond.
At St. Elizabeth’s, teachers follow the Purple Mash scheme of work from Early Years to Year 6. We use this as a starting point for the planning of our computing lessons, which are often richly linked to engaging contexts in other subjects and topics. The scheme is comprised of three aspects: Computer Science, Information Technology and Digital Literacy, which ensures a balanced coverage within the implementation of the curriculum. The children will have experiences of all three strands in each year group, but the subject knowledge imparted becomes increasingly specific and in depth, with more complex skills being taught as the children progress, thus ensuring that learning is built upon. For example, in Reception and Key Stage 1, children are taught to use equipment and software confidently and purposefully, to communicate and handle information and to support their problem solving, recording and expressive skills. In Key Stage 2, our children extend their use of computing that they use for communication, investigation and programming and work to understand how to communicate safely.
In Key Stage 1, the children will learn to understand what algorithms are; how they are implemented as programs on digital devices; and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions. They will be taught to create and debug simple programs and use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs. They will be shown how to use a range of technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content as well as recognise common uses of information technology beyond school. They will be taught to use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; identify where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies. In Key Stage 2, the children will design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts. They will use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs, use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and correct errors in algorithms and programs. Children will be taught to understand computer networks, including the internet, and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration. They will use search technologies effectively, learn to appreciate how results are selected and ranked, and be discerning in evaluating digital content. They will use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly; recognise acceptable/unacceptable behaviour; identify a range of ways to report concerns about content and contact.
Each of these skills will be taught through stimulating half termly units via Purple Mash. At the end of each unit, teachers will assess which children are working at their year groups expected outcomes and identify those children who are working below or are exceeding their yearly expectations. When assessed, it is likely that some children will have a mixture of objectives assessed as emerging, expected and exceeding so teachers will use their judgement to calculate the children’s overall understanding at the end of each academic year.
Staff develop year group specific long-term curriculum maps which identify when the different subjects and topics will be taught across the academic year. The vast majority of subjects are taught discretely but staff make meaningful links across subjects. They link prior knowledge to new learning to deepen children’s learning. For example, during their Fairy Tales and Traditional Tales topic in English, children in Year 1 designed and created their own Bee Bot maps based on their favourite fairy tale. They had to develop a set of algorithms to programme the Bee Bot to travel a certain route i.e. get Little Red Riding Hood to Grandma’s house without crossing the Wolf! The children tinkered with the technology first before revisiting their programming carefully to de-bug any errors that they made. This prior knowledge was built upon in our Maze Explorers topic, in which one of the objectives is to understand the functionality of the basic direction keys and therefore, the progression of skills was apparent.
Computing skills are taught both discretely and used to make cross-curricular links, supporting other areas of learning across the school. Employing cross-curricular links motivates pupils and supports them to make connections and remember the steps they have been taught. Each classroom is equipped with two computers, and across the school we have two class sets of iPads and laptops to ensure that all year groups have the opportunity to use a range of devices and programs for many purposes across the wider curriculum, as well as in discrete computing lessons.
Our short-term plans are produced on a weekly basis, with Purple Mash acting as a supplement for teachers to adapt and utilise the lesson plans to suit the needs of each class. We use these plans to set out the learning objectives for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them. We adhere to teaching a weekly computing lesson. This helps to ensure sufficient time is allocated to computing and that computing subject matter can be revisited frequently. We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught, to alter their long-term memory and thus improve the rates of progress they make.
Our Computing curriculum is high quality, well thought out and is planned to demonstrate progression. We use both formative and summative assessment information in computing lessons, which staff then use to inform their short-term planning. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our children, including challenging the more able. The objectives in each unit have been carefully mapped out and further broken down into individual lessons for each year group. This means that skills in computing are progressive and are built upon as they advance through school.
Our staff use a range of formative assessment methods to assess what the children know as the topic progresses and inform their future planning. These formative assessment strategies then inform summative assessment judgements for each unit and an overall judgement can be made at the end of the academic year based on the information gathered.
Children are assessed on the skills they have learned in conjunction with the objectives they have achieved in each unit. The quality of the children’s learning is evident on Purple Mash, a digital platform whereby teachers can monitor their skills and their learning. Evidence of this is used to feed into teachers’ future planning in order to bridge those gaps to enable the children to progress. This may be implemented in a cross-curricular way, or built upon in a discrete computing lesson. The assessment information is monitored frequently by the Computing Co-ordinator and analysed to ensure children are making progress. This process provides a comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in computing. All of this information is gathered and reviewed and CPD sessions have been conducted for all teachers in order to enhance that qualify first teaching.
After the implementation of this robust computing curriculum, children at St Elizabeth’s will be digitally literate and able to join the rest of the world on its digital platform. They will be equipped, not only with the skills and knowledge to use technology effectively and for their own benefit, but more importantly – safely. The biggest impact we want on our children is that they understand the consequences of using the internet and that they are also aware of how to keep themselves safe online. As children become more confident in their abilities in computing, they will become more independent and develop key life skills such as problem-solving, logical thinking and self-evaluation will become second nature. Computing at St Elizabeth’s gives children the building blocks that enables them to pursue a wide range of interests and vocations in the next stage of their lives.