Thornhill’s key principles for the teaching of computing:
Technology surrounds us and is developing at an ever-increasing pace. In order to equip our children for this, Thornhill aims to develop pupils’ critical thinking skills and encourage an exposure to a range of technology so that they may adapt to new technologies as they arise and we are able to do so by providing a curriculum is that is rich within these strands:
Computer Science - Pupils are taught to read and write algorithms and programs. They are also taught how to recognise mistakes (bugs) and fix them. When children write programs, they will learn that there are often different ways of getting the right outcome, and they need to be able to evaluate the programs to decide which is the most efficient, becoming problem solvers.
Information Technology - Pupils learn that technology is everywhere, and are taught to be able to identify the technology they encounter and develop a basic understanding of how it works. IT teaches children to create, store, exchange, and use information in its various forms (images, motion pictures, photos, multimedia presentations etc).
Digital Literacy – Pupils are taught to use computer systems confidently and effectively, including basic keyboard and mouse skills. Simple use of ‘office applications’ such as word processing, presentations and spreadsheets. Use of the Internet, including browsing, searching and creating content for the Web, communication and collaboration.
The aim of three strands in computing is to give children the necessary skills to break down a problem, predict what will happen and use logic to find a solution through practical experience. At Thornhill, we understand that each strand is essential for developing confident pupils in an age where technologies are consistently developing.
Skills - Children should be provided with the opportunity to learn, refine and improve their digital skills, across the range of ICT curriculum.
Technology in the world - Children should develop an understanding of how technology makes a difference in all aspects of life- at home, at school and in the workplace, as well as considering the impact technology has had on society over the years.
Technical understanding - Children should develop the knowledge and understanding of how technology works, to form an awareness that there is ‘something inside’ a piece of technology to make it work (EYFS), progressing through KS1 and KS2 to children creating their own simple programs including games, utilities and applications with exposure computer codes and scripts.
Safe and Responsible Use - E-safety is a fundamental element of ICT teaching and technology use at Thornhill. The school has a separate E-Safety policy, and E-Safety sessions should take place regularly in each year group as part of both ICT and PSHE sessions.
The effective teaching of computing at Thornhill
- Experimenting: Teachers provide pupils with a chance to explore and tinker with new software or hardware when they first encounter it, so they can figure out their own mental model for how it works. This has proven to be particularly effective with younger pupils with an example of BeeBots.
- Making: A lot can be learnt through the process of making things to show to or share with others. This might be computer code, but it might also be PowerPoint presentations, web pages, edited video, digital photographs, etc.
- Discussion: Make the most of pupils’ different insights, experiences and backgrounds by allowing them to share their ideas with one another and with others. Paired programming activities in class and online discussion forums are just two ways to facilitate this, which is evident within the computing books and our online platform DB Primary.
- Connecting and collaborating: Learning from others through collaboration, pupil leaders and subject enthusiasts is encouraged in all subjects but especially in computing. Teachers at Thornhill encourage pupils to explore others’ solutions to problems by discussing previous examples or searching online for solutions to problems or questions.
- Direct instruction and modelling: For some ideas in computing, the traditional, direct instruction approach is necessary for teachers and pupils. Complex ideas such as variables, how the internet works or how search engines operate are examples of how direct teaching is more effective.
- Practise and application: Teachers provide pupils at Thornhill opportunities for them to practise applying their skills, knowledge and understanding throughout each lesson. Application of skills can be shown the following lesson or within another subject through a cross curricular link, through a presentation or school assembly.
- Assessment: At Thornhill, each topic begins with an preliminary assessment through a discussion and a collection of initial ideas and prior knowledge. Using formulation and summative assessment approaches of assessment, the content is then differentiated, taught and assessed both at the end of a lesson and entire topic through self-assessment and teacher observations.