We asked Anthony Allday, computing leader at Sacred Heart Primary School in London and Craig Keaney a primary school teacher from Liverpool about their experiences of implementing the new Computing Curriculum. We know that it has been a challenging year for many schools and hope that finding out about how others are managing the changes will provide you with useful information.
Interview with Anthony Allday, Computing Coordinator at Sacred Heart Primary School
Could you please introduce yourself?
I am Tony Allday and I am the Computing Coordinator at Sacred Heart Primary Roehampton. I teach computing across the whole school from reception to year 6. I have been the school’s specialist ICT/Computing teacher for about six years and I am also a CAS Master Teacher.
Have you started to teach the new Computing curriculum in your school? How is it going?
Yes, we have started teaching the new curriculum and so far it has been fine. I am lucky because I teach all age groups and I can see how different years are progressing and I have a good idea where to pitch my teaching depending on a cohort’s experience and understanding.
What are the main challenges you came across when teaching the new computing curriculum?
Well, firstly it was coming up with a scheme of work. After a year of trying various things out I have decided to build my teaching around an existing SOW, linking it into classes’ core subjects or foundation topic work where appropriate. Again, having taught across the school for some time, I have a good idea what ICT/Computing topics marry well with what foundation topics.
Another challenge is to keep the activities creative, fresh and relevant. Because you are working with technology, children generally expect a wow factor. Luckily we have a very well resourced IT suite and there are lots of great teaching resources out there.
What about children, what is their opinion of the computing lessons? Do they think, feel different?
Lots of the things that are in the new curriculum were already in the old curriculum and I had started trialling some “computer science” concepts before the curriculum came in last year. For instance, I decided to introduce Scratch to all my classes six months before the new curriculum. So it wasn’t such a major change for my pupils.
Do the children think or feel different? It is still early days but I would say that they really enjoy their ICT lessons. They like the creative challenges; they are becoming more resilient; and you can see that they are thinking through problems much more and fixing things for themselves.
Do you think parents are aware of the curriculum changes? Any reaction?
Now, this is something that is on my agenda – getting the parents involved more. I have spoken to some and they say that their children have been inspired to try things out at home e.g. Scratch and Kodu. This is great but I need to run a couple of after school sessions for parents to explain the new curriculum and to see if I can’t get them doing some stuff with their children themselves at home.
Any advise to schools who are still confused about where to start?
Jump in and have a go. Look at the CAS web site and Barefoot for resources. Come along to one of the basic Scratch training sessions that I run as a CAS Master Teacher. It is really not that scary and much of what you are expected to teach you would have been doing already.