As the beginning of the 2017/18 school fast approaches, Herts for Learning is happy to be releasing its newest version of our popular Primary Computing Scheme. First launched in 2011, the scheme has evolved and developed over the years and the new version 6 offers more support than ever before for teachers delivering the 2014 national curriculum computing programme of study. It is open to any school or setting (we have users from different parts of the UK and abroad.) I thought I would use this blog to explain what the scheme offers and point out 10 things which we believe make version 6 of the scheme both extremely useful for schools and great value for money.
1. Flexibility. This broad scheme continues to be based on learning objectives, presented in termly learning themes across KS1 and 2. This enables the teaching of computing to go across the curriculum rather than be limited to discrete computing lessons. Digital Literacy, Information Technology and Computer Science are represented through 5 strands which underlie the entire scheme. Sample here.
2. Assessment. Each theme includes a suggested independent task. Work from these tasks, along with pupil self-assessment, is used for summative assessment, using the assessment statements provided with each termly theme. Assessment in the scheme follows the Herts for Learning PA+ approach for tracking attainment, which you may already be familiar with in Maths and English. We include examples of children’s assessed work, templates and more, to help you though the assessment process.
3. eSafety. We believe eSafety messages should be ‘drip fed’ to children whenever the opportunity arises. It is essential that children gain eSafety awareness and skills in order to protect themselves, and of course this forms part of the national curriculum at both KS1 and KS2. eSafety flows throughout the Primary Computing Scheme, in learning objectives within the themes and also as ongoing objectives across the key stages. To make eSafety references easy to identify within the objectives, we mark them with a little logo. Also, new to version 6 we provide an eSafety progression paper so you can see at a glance how the eSafety skills progress through the scheme.
4. A guiding hand. Accompanying each termly theme is an extensive theme guide. These really help teachers understand what the objectives mean, the computing terms that may be used and how they may be taught. We recognise that for many teachers, computing is a challenging subject to understand and deliver, and these guides will support the planning process. Sample theme guide here.
5. Resourcing. Rather than tell you which software and hardware you have to use, our approach is that you can use any suitable resources to help the pupils meet the objectives. This usually means that you don’t have to spend more money on getting the resources specified within a scheme. However, if you’re not sure what you could use, in this new version we provide a list of example resources (hardware and software) with each theme guide. We also provide an extensive list of example iPad apps that may be used to support each theme. And on request, we can come into your school (where practical) and create a personalised resource map so you know exactly what is available to you and your colleagues, to teach each theme.
6. Brand new EYFS Section. We are happy to include an entirely new Early Years section for version 6, which helps prepare children for the computing national curriculum. This new section includes planning and resourcing presented as 9 separate Area Link Cards. Each card contains examples of resources that might be used in each area, relevant vocabulary and things practitioners can do to enable children to explore technology in a meaningful way. We also include behaviours a child could demonstrate to show understanding, and eSafety skills. Sample Area Link Card.
7. Progression papers. Also brand new to version 6 are progression papers for each strand. They show how the strand is distributed across the themes and include the statements that would be expected to be attained by an age-appropriate learner. We also include Gifted and Talented and eSafety progression papers. Sample Progression Paper here.
8. Additional materials. Accompanying the scheme is an online resources bank, including lesson ideas, video-guides, links to online resources, software guides, assessment materials and more. Never used a text-based programming language but want to give children experience of coding in this way? No problem, watch our video-guide on getting started with Logo. Wondering what abstraction is all about? Then read our guide, with activities you can use in class, to help you (and the pupils, of course) understand this concept. We include over 100 different items in our online resources area, which accompany the main scheme document.
9. Staff Skills Audit. One of these additional resources is an audit tool which you can use with your staff to assess their confidence levels with various aspects of computing. Use the accompanying analysis tool to easily see in which areas staff may need some training or support.
10. The Price. As a not-for-profit company, we have priced the annual subscription to the Primary Computing Scheme as low as we can. Pricing is banded according to the number of pupils on roll, and details can be found on our website.
Version 6 of the Primary Computing Scheme is published on August 31st 2017