Understanding changes to Computing curriculum at the International School
By Katie Hinks, Principal
The UK curriculum which we use at our school has been updated recently.Most of the updates have been either focused on raising standards in core subjects and slimming down specific requirements to focus more on skill building in foundation subjects.
Grade 3 enjoying Computer Class
What has changed?
Perhaps the biggest changes however are in the Computing curriculum (or ICT as it was known pre 2014). ICT used to focus purely on computer literacy – teaching pupils, often repetitively, how to use specific programs; how to word-process and how to make a PowerPoint presentation for instance.
What does this mean?
The changes to the curriculum mean that we now teach our children computer science, information technology and digital literacy: teaching them how to code and how to create their own programs; not just how to work a computer, but how a computer works and how to make it work for them.
Campaigners argue that learning programming skills will benefit children in other ways whatever their ultimate career – almost akin to the reasoning for giving children the chance to learn a musical instrument or foreign language.
“We’re not just trying to encourage people to become developers. We’re trying to encourage children to become creative,” says Sophie Deen, Head of Code Club Pro, which has been running training sessions for teachers this year.
She continues, “At primary level, it helps children to be articulate and think logically: when they start breaking down what’s happening, they can start predicting what’s going to happen. It’s about looking around you almost like an engineer at how things are constructed.”
Coding to create new worlds
What is the impact at the International School?
The transferable skills I am witnessing at the International School in our Computing lessons this year are vast, desirable and hugely transferable: problem solving, logical thinking, working systematically, creative thinking and reasoning.
The programming language of Scratch, for instance, demands children to make use of negative numbers and coordinates; things that that they are able to manipulate and make use of at a much earlier age than they may encounter in Mathematics classes.
Bill Mitchell, director of education at BCS explains things well when he says, “To me, the basic idea of computing is you have to get a computer to solve a problem: you have to come up with an algorithm, a set of instructions. If you can do that, it’s a hugely valuable skill whenever you’re working as a team for any kind of project,”
He continues, “Also, think about other subjects. When you learn physics, you think about physics. But when you learn computing, you are thinking about thinking. About how thinking works. You have to try to imagine how this computer is going to do something for you. There are lots of transferable skills.”
Computing Curriculum at the International School
This is the clear graphic explanation of the new Computing curriculum.