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Computing

Introduction

Computing is a lifelong skill that is essential for children to learn to prepare them for the future and allow them to become successful adults. Regardless of our skill-set or view, it is a fact that computing and IT governs our society, and it will continue to develop and evolve in the future. Computing already is and will become the primary tool for children in their careers as well as the way many will build relationships and form habits that support relaxation (i.e. shopping, watching TV and playing games). Computing is continually changing and updating, so our curriculum needs to change and adapt to suit the advances in technology. Children and parents must become confident and not fearful of computing. We need to teach the dangers or risks that they may face to allow them to stay safe while accessing and enjoy all the wonderful benefits that computing and technology provides.

Aim

At Woodcote Primary, Computing is progressive, where we aim to build upon current skills and hone in to develop all areas of technology. At Woodcote, our main aim is to create independent and competent users of a variety of software and processes.

Computing at Woodcote is taught through three main strands:

  • Computer science (programming algorithms/coding and fixing simple programs)
  • Digital literacy  (how computers work and understanding how to use technology safely)
  • Information technology (the use of various software and programs to create a goal)

In all areas of the Computing curriculum, our teaching is exciting, high quality and innovative to give children opportunities to explore and create their programs, documents and learning. Woodcote Primary aims to equip children with the necessary skills for the future. Hence, our teaching involves projects that encourage the use of programs that are applicable in real-life situations. We provide stimulating and enjoyable lessons that not only excite the children but also allows opportunities to struggle, which results in practical problem-solving. Computing at Woodcote is not just being given instructions for how software is used or a game is created. Computing at Woodcote aims to teach the skills of each piece of software and give children the freedom to play around and create their digital learning. Through our e-safety lessons, we teach children the risks of computing and explicitly teach ways that children can be confident users to seek help when needed. Children at Woodcote are respectful of other users and understand the importance of this in the wider community.

Curriculum/Scheme of Work

The curriculum was developed alongside Cornerstones to tie in computing objectives with themes across the year to give meaningful links. The curriculum aims to teach essential software skills children need for later in life, so the objectives are embedded in real-life situations, wherever possible. National Curriculum objectives have been broken down to enable each year group to understand the progression of skills throughout the key stages. A positive of breaking the objectives down into smaller skills means Woodcote Primary has a clear overview and scheme of work to follow to make sure skills are built upon and children are not taught the same things in every year group. We use a range of software across the key stages and use these to ensure children are developing their skills consistently across the school. The three strands of computing are revisited frequently (twice across the year in a three half term rota) to allow children to build upon their skills at different points of the year.

Planning

Planning for computing follows a similar process to other core and non-core subjects. The main focus of planning is always the learning journey, where we consider what we want the children to learn and the journey the children will take to reach their end goal. Planning always considers the needs of the children in the class and the experiences they have had. It is vital during the planning process to consider what the children have already done in previous lessons and year groups to accurately adapt plans from Cornerstones to fit objectives and skills within the class. To begin the planning process, teachers consider the effectiveness of the lessons on Cornerstones and use these ideas as a starting point for their lessons. It is essential to embed the learning within the theme, but adapting the lesson is paramount to ensure effective teaching is maintained. Once key objectives are outlined and ideas developed, essential skills are teased out to make sure they are taught entirely or investigated rather than just teaching a set of instructions for the children to follow. We aim to plan lessons that are achievable but always maintain a sense of challenge to extend all children. During the planning process, decisions about whether lessons are on-screen or off-screen need to be made. On-screen tasks involve using technology to create learning, and off-screen tasks can take objectives and teach them without the use of technology. When planning, a combination of on-screen and off-screen tasks should be used to ensure children are taught in a variety of ways. When planning lessons, the resources that you intend to use should be considered carefully to make sure the right program or software is being chosen for the task. At Woodcote, we use a range of programs and software to ensure children have the opportunity to learn and experience different forms of technology, for example, bee bots, iPads, laptops and cameras. The resources required are found in the curriculum cupboard and should be checked by the teacher before the lesson. Once resources have been signed out and used, they should be returned to the curriculum cupboard to make sure resources are easily accessible for everyone to use when they need them.

Teaching

The teaching of computing should always be child-led, with plenty of opportunities for children to discuss and problem solve in groups or pairs. The teacher should try wherever possible to be the facilitator and provide activities where the children can take on the role of the expert. The lesson structure can vary according to the strand of computing being taught, but there should be many opportunities for children to move and work as a group during a talk task. Not only does this allow children to learn from others, but it also allows children to be free to take risks with computing without fear of being wrong. Rather than just being taught how to do something, group work allows opportunities to try different things and figure out new ways to use technology for themselves, which further develops their understanding. Children learn best from doing and therefore, should always be encouraged to have a go at new challenges. Challenges should be made available for all children to be able to access and where possible, these should be as open-ended as they provide the best learning opportunities for the children.

Differentiation

We teach children in varying skilled groups to allow children to learn from one another. The children are taught skills that they can use rather than procedures they follow to enable children to adapt and vary the work to suit their own needs. Children can challenge themselves by experimenting with the skills and solving problems using what they have been taught. Where children are struggling, groups of children with varying skills can be successfully used to support each other. The children will need to be shown how to support and help each other so that highly skilled children do not just complete work for others. For children to effectively support each other, they may be used as an 'expert' where they can explain the processes and steps to use software to another child. Alternatively, groups of children may be working together to trial different approaches, for example, working together to trial and error different coding blocks to achieve a desirable result. One of the main strengths of children being in groups of varying skills means they can work together and each bring a different strength to the group that will allow them to solve a problem, such as debugging a program successfully. Computing skills go beyond being able to use a particular software and include many teamwork skills such as communication and problem solving. Computing objectives cover more than just coding and so children may be more skilled in computer processing and less skilled in coding, so there are plenty of opportunities for children to become the 'expert' or to be supported by others. Children seeking out challenges can be extended by using the skills and objectives of the lesson and experimenting on their own.

Assessment

Teachers should always be considering what the children know during the planning process. The assessment of their skills and understanding can be accomplished during many parts of the lesson. It is essential to find opportunities to assess the children throughout rather than just at the end during a plenary. Mini-plenaries throughout are great ways to evaluate children and move them onto challenges where necessary. Assessments made should be based on the objectives and key skills outlined in the whole school overview rather than assessing the end product. Computing is more than just achieving a result so teachers should be making judgements on the children's ability to use technology and manipulate rules and processes they have learnt to be creative and imaginative with the way they create learning online. Taking the skills taught and creating something new is an excellent indication of the children's understanding. Assessments for computing may vary between the three strands where children are more skilled in one strand than another. For example, a child may be highly proficient with their understanding of creating learning using programs in information technology but less competent with their understanding of coding in computer science. Regularly making assessments of children across the three strands will allow the class teacher to plan in opportunities to address any gaps or misconceptions the children might have in the focus of the next half term.

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