Computing Vision Statement
“Everybody should learn to programme a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”
Computing is an integral part of our everyday life and will play an immeasurable part in our children’s futures. At our school, we will provide all of our children with the skills, creativity and resilience to live and thrive in a world increasingly dependent on the latest technology. As computing technology underpins today’s modern lifestyle, it is essential that all pupils gain the confidence and ability that they need in this subject to prepare them for the challenge of a rapidly developing and changing technological world.
By the time our children leave our school, we want them to be confident communicators and responsible users of modern technology. We will encourage our children to ask questions and instil curiosity as to how and why things work. Our children will be able to take responsibility for their own learning and we aim to use computing where appropriate to motivate and inspire pupils and raise standards across the curriculum.
The computing curriculum promotes curiosity and a thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient. Our aim is to provide a high-quality computing education which will equip children to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. We aim to provide our children with the statutory requirements of the computing National Curriculum but also prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. During a previous Science week, our children were able to discover the wonders of the universe in an immersive, full dome planetarium where they experienced travelling through space and time. Using the latest video technology, the children visited the moon and saw Earth from a different perspective through a cinematic experience. The children really enjoyed this and 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 feeds into the computing curriculum. For example, St Elizabeths is one of the thousands of organisations across the UK who enjoy getting involved in Safer Internet Day. Safer Internet Day enables children to make the most of the internet’s potential to bring people together and develop conversations that shape how we talk about and respond to online issues, not just for one day, but throughout the whole year. In 2022 we celebrated young people’s role in creating a safer internet and explored the ways young people are shaping the interactive entertainment spaces they are part of. This year our Safer Internet Day celebrations were based around the theme ‘Want to talk about it? Making space for conversations about life online’. Children took part in a number of age-appropriate activities. We took time to listen to our children to find out what issues really matter to them and what changes they would like to see, encouraging them to help shape the online safety support that they receive. We want our children to develop skills to keep themselves and others safe when online.
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 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 so they can update and edit. Computing is a diverse subject which is connected throughout the curriculum and can enhance the curriculum being taught in a fun and dynamic way.
We enrich the children’s time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences to help learning stick. We are fortunate to have links and connections with local secondary schools that can give our children access to the latest technology and workshops on how to use it safely and securely. Last year, for example, Year 5 had an opportunity to experience a taster day at Kings Leadership Academy 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.Our curriculum teaches children key knowledge about how computers and computer systems work, and how they are designed and programmed.
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 Year 1 to Year 6. We use this as a starting point for the planning of our computing lessons, which through a connected curriculum 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 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 Early Years Foundation Stage children’s listening skills, curiosity, creativity and problem solving skills are developed. Children are encouraged to ask questions and explore how things work through play, including role-play. Learning is revisited and often follows children’s interests. Children develop knowledge of sequence by using time connectives when describing events. Children become familiar with equipment through, for example, watching video clips and listening to music. They choose programs and play games on the interactive board enabling them to use information technology purposefully and productively. Children gain knowledge of how to use devices such as Bee Bots that are more widely used in KS1, reducing cognitive load when they come to use them to solve more complex problems. In digital literacy, children explore online safety and they take part in Safer Internet day. Children develop skills in many ways such as through Communication and Language, Understanding the World and Being Imaginative.
In Key Stage 1, the children 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 are taught to create and debug simple programs and use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs. They are 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 are taught to use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; identifying 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 design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts. They 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 are taught to understand computer networks, including the internet, and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration. They use search technologies effectively, learn to appreciate how results are selected and ranked, and learn to be discerning in evaluating digital content. They use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly; recognising acceptable/unacceptable behaviour; identifying a range of ways to report concerns about content and contact.
Each of these skills are taught through stimulating half termly units via Purple Mash. At the end of each unit, teachers assess which children are working at their year groups expected outcomes and identify those children who are working below or who are exceeding their yearly expectations. Teachers 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. Staff make meaningful links across subjects so that we have a connected curriculum. They link prior knowledge to new learning to deepen children’s understanding and to develop skills. For example, during their Fairy Tales and Traditional Tales topic in English, children in Year 1 design and create their own Bee Bot maps based on their favourite fairy tale. They 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 de-bug any errors that they make. This knowledge and these skills are then built upon in Year 1’s Maze Explorers topic, in which one of the objectives is to understand the functionality of the basic direction keys.
Computing skills are taught discretely and also used to support 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. Across the school we have two class sets of laptops and one set of ipads that accompany allocated class ipads to make a full set. We also have some computers within our classrooms. This is to ensure that children 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 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 with the skills and knowledge to use technology effectively, for their own benefit and most 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 which will become second nature. Computing at St Elizabeth’s gives children the building blocks to enable them to pursue a wide range of interests and vocations in the next stage of their lives.