At Collis, we believe that Computing is a necessary and exciting subject that prepares children to live in a world where technology is moving at a rapid pace. Children are being prepared to work with technology that doesn’t exist yet. For this reason, it is important that children are able to participate in the creation of these new technologies and systems – placing greater emphasis on children as coders, problem solvers and computational thinkers. It is essential that children are taught how to participate safely and effectively in an increasingly digital world.
Computing in the National Curriculum can be split into three strands (Computer Science, Digital Literacy and Information Technology). It is important that children develop knowledge and skills in each strand and understand what makes each one relevant to their future, as well as their everyday lives. We set high expectations for all children in Computing, with a focus on equity and inclusion. All pupils at Collis are provided with the opportunities and support needed to enable them to be confident and efficient in computing. We focus on the skills and techniques of Computational Thinking as these are crucial when working with technology.
Our curriculum is carefully sequenced so that knowledge and skills are revisited, developed and built on, allowing children to integrate new learning into existing schemas. We aim to go beyond the expectations of the National Curriculum by creating links with wider national computing activities and organisations such as the Bebras Challenge and AstroPi’s Mission Zero challenge.
In order to contrast our local context and prepare pupils for life in modern Britain, we purposefully identify and discuss computing role models from a diverse range of backgrounds (including different gender, ethnicity and upbringing). Computing is often seen as an area lacking in diversity, but we aim to uncover the vast range of people who have contributed to what we have today and encourage all pupils, but particularly those from under-represented groups such as girls or ethnic minorities, to participate.
We are aware that children’s previous experiences with technology will vary greatly and aim to provide Cultural Capital experiences that many will not encounter at home or outside school. This includes our extremely popular Coding Club, which gives children the opportunity to pursue their own interests within coding and engage with others who share their interest. We also provide all children with the opportunity to use Crumble microcomputers in Year 4 and Year 6 as part of linked computing and DT units.
Reading and learning vocabulary are the gateway into our curriculum so we ensure that key vocabulary is identified, explicitly taught and frequently revisited. This is particularly important due to the quantity of subject specific vocabulary involved in computing and the potential barrier to learning that this could create. “Sticky” knowledge is carefully identified and selected, ensuring that the key learning for each unit is clear. This sticky knowledge is frequently revisited and retrieved in order to support movement of knowledge into long-term memory.
Example of progression of sticky knowledge in programming
In computing lessons, we aim to develop children’s growth mindsets, self-belief and resilience. Problem-solving is a core component of computing (and an essential life skill) and children are frequently faced with challenges. We use taught strategies, such as the Building Learning Power Skills and The Learning Pit, to help children navigate and reflect on these problem-solving experiences. We constantly model a positive attitude towards challenge, recognising it as essential to learning.
Learning is made clear for all pupils by introducing a sequenced learning objective, sharing key vocabulary and identifying the key (Sticky) skills and knowledge that the children are learning. Computing lessons are made accessible and effective for all pupils, including those with SEND, through adaptive teaching strategies. These include pair programming, explicit modelling and strategic removal of scaffolding and low-threshold high-ceiling activities. In this way, we support and challenge all pupils. Programming lessons make frequent use of the PRIMM structure (Predict-Run-Investigate-Modify-Make) which focusses on reading code before writing code, working collaboratively, reducing cognitive load and gradually taking ownership.
Learning is explicitly modelled for all pupils through a range of methods including worked examples, modelling problem solving approaches, live coding and demonstration. These techniques reduce cognitive load, expose learners to good practices and support learners in assimilating new knowledge into existing understanding.
A range of Assessment for Learning techniques are used to ensure that all children have understood the content and are fully engaged in the learning. This also allows teachers to identify concepts that need further input or development. Research on memory, learning and teacher instruction is carefully considered and factored into the planning of computing. We focus on five strategies: Think about it, Forgetting Curve, Spaced Retrieval, Cognitive Overload and Schemas.
We provide CPD to teachers to support their understanding of the latest research, the design of the curriculum, subject knowledge and subject-specific pedagogy. In a rapidly moving and changing subject area like Computing, this is vital to provide the best possible teaching and maximise learning.
Computing has a high profile at our school. Children consistently say that they enjoy their computing lessons and can talk confidently about what they have learnt. As a result of our computing curriculum, children know more and remember more, transferring knowledge and skills from short to long term memory. Our children are confident using a wide range of hardware and software and are diligent learners who value online safety and respect when communicating with one another. Our learning always builds towards an end point of ensuring pupils are prepared for the next stage of their education.
The impact of our curriculum is monitored through a variety of tools: AfL in lessons, evidence folders, pupil voice surveys, lesson observations, and SLT and subject leader learning walks. This is then used to inform the school improvement cycle of monitoring and planning.
The effectiveness of the curriculum in building children’s knowledge and skills is assessed through low-stakes quizzes, revisits, assemblies, and end of unit internal formal assessment. Written and oral feedback is used regularly to systematically check pupils’ understanding and address misconceptions. Where assessment and monitoring shows that children are not on track, targeted support is put in place to close the gap.
Our focus on promoting diversity within computing has resulted in children from all backgrounds developing an interest in the subject. Within our coding club, we have roughly equal representation of girls and boys, a high proportion of children with SEND and a huge range of ethnic diversity.
If you were to walk into computing lessons at Collis, you would see: