Time for a new Computing curriculum in England… Time to source resources and advice at the Education Show

Dave Smith, Computing and ICT Adviser for Havering School Improvement Services in London explores how the Education Show can help support you in teaching the new Computing curriculum.

The advent of a new National Curriculum for computing in England with a strong focus on computer science has meant that teachers are currently having to upskill themselves in readiness for the rollout of the curriculum in September 2014. 

Previous incarnations of the National Curriculum in England would have been accompanied with government procured curriculum materials, training and advice.  The new computing curriculum for primary schools in England is no more than 2 sides of A4 paper and brief in its statements.  The devolving of previously ring-fenced technology and training budgets directly to schools, is allowing schools the autonomy to source their own training and resources, meaning they have got to act smart in choosing the right sources. 

BESA (stand F5-E6) reported that “The survey of 1,238 UK schools (731 primary, 507 secondary) which was conducted in July 2013 found that in the school year 2014/15 schools forecast their ICT expenditure will be higher in cash terms than at any other time on record. Investment in hardware replacement, peripherals, software and technical support will reach £14,220 per primary school and £65,570 in each secondary school.” 

The Education Show offers a great opportunity to support these areas of investment in educational technology, with a number of companies and advisory bodies providing resources and ideas to address the requirements of the Computing curriculum, as well as a string of seminars to help guide teachers in implementing it.  Here’s just a taste of what is on offer…

I always make for the TTS stand at the Education Show (stand C2). They have a great catalogue for Computing and ICT with all of the resources in one place.  Checkout the fantastic Makey Makey kits and rechargeable Beebots and their big brother the Probot – a must for any programming activities. The Lego Education (A73) stand has got to be a must too.  Linking Lego WeDo to Scratch is fun and very engaging.  

Nationally, various free and paid for teaching materials are being developed by teachers and organisations to help support the new curriculum.  In Havering, we decided to work with specialist educational publishers Rising Stars (D44) and Miles Berry of the University of Roehampton, London to develop Switched on Computing (building on the success of its predecessor Switched on ICT – now in approximately 4000 schools globally).  This partnership provides comprehensive curriculum materials for primary schools.

Education City (F49-E50) have just launched their ‘Computing’ module, where pupils can explore new ideas to help them use computational thinking and creativity to understand the world around them. ZuLogic have recently unveiled their new Zu3D Stopframe animation app for iPads, where pupils can create their own animation by taking pictures, importing and recording sounds then adding titles, credits and speech bubbles.

And of course, where would educational technology at the Education Show be without that bastion of excellence 2simple Software Ltd (H40). They have recently added 2code to the offering within the fantastic Purple Mash. 2code is very impressive in terms of its simplicity of use, progressive nature and all round teacher and pupil-friendly approach. Or as 2simple put it, 2Code “lets teachers with no prior knowledge of coding deliver engaging and challenging lessons for children in KS1 and KS2.”

Also, make sure that you visit the British Council (H41) and find out about how eTwinning can be used for communication and collaboration.  Blogging, emailing, videoconferencing – you name it, you can do it through eTwinning – and best of all, it is free, gratis, gratuit, kostenlos…

Finally, the Education Show is home to some world-class CPD opportunities.  Checkout the Technology in Education seminars for an array of speakers and content.  I will be interested in what the Computing at School Master Teachers say on the topic of the new curriculum for primary and secondary phases.

There is even more, but I have a word limit to keep to!  You will just have to visit the Education Show for yourself to find out everything else.  Therefore, if you have not already registered for the Education Show, now is the time to get online and get signed-up.  You won’t be disappointed.  

See you there! 

Dave Smith is a member of the Board of Management of Naace, is a Naace Fellow and a Bett Show and Education Resource Awards Judge. He also has over 10 years’ teaching and senior leadership experience in 3 schools and has been a governor of 4 schools.  Follow him on Twitter @davesmithict.

UK gets new computing curriculum advice body

Architects of ‘computing’ for English schools extend reach with UK-wide curriculum outfit

Chair of UKForCE Chris Mairs

The UK has a new body to provide curriculum advice, qualifications and assessment on computing education. The UK Forum for Computing Education (UKForCE) has been set up by The Royal Academy of Engineering (RAEng), which co-authored the new computing curriculum for English schools with the British Computer Society (BCS) for the Department for Education (DfE).

The UKForCE says it will also supply and train computing teachers, but its relationship with the DfE or other UK governments on this is unclear – it is an independent organisation.

The RAEng has set up the new forum to fulfil a recommendation in the report it co-produced with the Royal Society, Shutdown or restart: the way forward for UK schools. This called for the formation of “a lasting UK Forum for joint working and co-ordination between the many computing bodies”. Its purpose is to help implement the recommendations of Shutdown or restart and regularly report back on progress. One of its intended roles is to advise awarding bodies on “appropriate assessment methods for qualifications in digital literacy, information technology and computer science”.

‘Improving computing education across all education sectors of the UK’

UKForCE says it aims to “bring together representatives from across the communities of education, computer science, digital media, IT, engineering and telecommunications”. The press release announcing the venture also said it “will be independent of government and awarding organisations and will work towards improving computing education across all education sectors of the UK”.

Royal Academy of Engineering

“The new computing curriculum, which comes into effect in September 2014, is a most welcome step change in computing education,” says the chair of the new organisation, Chris Mairs, who is the chief scientist at Metaswitch Networks. “There are many amazing initiatives springing up to build upon this bold move both inside and outside the classroom.

“UKForCE will be the connective tissue between all these initiatives, central government and other relevant bodies. With a coherent voice and government commitment, our children will be the world’s most savvy digital citizens and a tremendous asset to the UK economy.

“As well as providing a springboard for great software engineers and computing specialists, effective delivery of the new curriculum can literally improve the life chances of an entire generation. UKForCE will help make this happen.”

‘We may soon see another Alan Turing emerging from our schools’

Simon Peyton Jones

One of the authors of the new curriculum and chair of Computing at School is Microsoft’s principal researcher Simon Peyton Jones. A passionate supporter of computer science, he hopes that “we may soon see another Alan Turing emerging from our schools”. He added, “We need to generate the same enthusiasm for computing that the BBC Micro brought about in the 80s and that got so many people into programming and brought the UK to the forefront of computer science.”

However, there are those who feel the computing curriculum for English schools has too strong a focus on computer science and programming, and that the same people who steered that through will also effectively control the new organisation. Observers will be looking for educators and known experts in teacher and learniing, rather than a controlling group of computer scientists on the board (see below).

‘We must ensure that young people of all abilities have opportunities to learn’

One UKForCE steering committee member who is an advocate for the wider understanding of   computing education is Bob Harrison. A Toshiba education advisor who also chairs the computing expert group set up by the DfE, he said: “Computing, in all its incarnations, is today one of the pillars of business and society; whether it’s digital literacy and basic software use, management of data and networks or advanced coding. We must ensure that young people of all abilities across the UK have opportunities to learn and be inspired by all aspects of computing education in schools.

“For UK businesses to flourish and for the UK to be an IT innovation leader not a follower, we need a fundamental change in the way that computing is taught in schools. Through UKForCE, we want to make sure the delivery of computing education in UK schools does not become mechanical and uninspiring, causing pupils to shun the subject when they move into work or choosing further education.”

Naace has welcomed the new body (it has two members – Mark Chambers and Bob Harrison – on the board) and says it is pleased by the wilingness to include messages of balance “not only in the curriculum”. Mark Chambers commented: The importance of computing in its widest sense to the UK  economy cannot be understated; it is imperative that we achieve  identification with this from the wider UK community and that learners  are offered a real and a relevant experience of computing throughout  their schooling.”

Reasons to be Optimistic About the New Curriculum by Caroline Wright

The good news is that the funding certainly appears to be in place to back these needs.

The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) works with Government, suppliers and schools to deliver quality in education services and resources in the UK and abroad. A year on from Bett 2013 Caroline Wright, Director at BESA, takes a look at the state of the sector and examines the broader implications of the current changes.

It would be hard for any teacher to have missed the new curriculum changes. For primary schools, 2013/14 is a year of transformation before the new curriculum comes into effect from September 2014. Adapting to the new skills that are required to teach a modern foreign language, computer science coding, grammar, punctuation and spelling and even reciting poetry will be a hurdle for all to cross.

Equally, secondary schools are being met with reformed GCSE course content. The changes will be applied to English and maths first, followed by sciences, history and geography – and then others will follow.

Many teachers are turning to technology to assist their new teaching.

The need to adequately support the new knowledge and skills dictated by the curriculum is currently resulting in an urgent investment in technology; not forgetting published schemes of work, text books and learning support material, and of course resources needed to raise the skill level of teachers.

The good news is that the funding certainly appears to be in place to back these needs.

Our regular ‘Education Market Performance Outlook’ survey of primary and secondary schools that explores changes in the spending plans of schools is now showing a rise in expenditure in all areas, particularly ICT. Spending in 2013/14 was projected by schools to increase by 2.7 per cent.

It is certainly heartening for our education sector and the economy that these findings show a positive and optimistic outlook by both schools and suppliers.

UK schools have led the world in embedding technology into the learning environment and our schools now have the experience to invest wisely to optimise the value of this technology. Wise procurement includes evaluating all available products to ensure you have invested in the right one for your specific needs, checking the service costs such as warranty and support and negotiating the price. These can all be carried out efficiently and effectively in one day at Bett. We will be managing the BESA information point at the show and look forward to welcoming any visitors looking for advice on finding specific products or suppliers. We look forward to seeing you there.

Register to Bett 2014 for FREE now.


I Have a Vision!

‘I have a vision that every student has a tablet to enhance learning …

but how do I get there?’

Amanda Jackson, Inspector Standards and Effectiveness for Computing and ICT at Havering School Improvement Service and speaker during the School Leaders Summit at Bett 2014, examines why it is important to have a clear vision and a strategy before you start considering procurement of tablet devices.

Tablets are now becoming powerful enough for most pupils’ computing needs, and with everything you need at your fingertips, you can see why so many people are considering this option. A recent report from BESA (British Educational Suppliers Association) has forecast that “By the end of the year there will be about 260,000 tablets for use by pupils in classrooms across the UK maintained schools and academies. It is forecast that by the end of 2015 the number will have increased to over 600,000; with a further increase to 1.8 million by the end of 2020.” Report (BESA), ‘Tablets and apps in schools 2013’

How important is a vision for their adoption? It is vital to be clear who is going to be using them and what they are going to be used for. If you haven’t got the technical knowledge to describe this in technical terms, then describe it in functional terms. For example, ‘I want to be able to browse the Internet from any classroom or outdoor learning space. I want to be able to take pictures of pupils on the field and save the photos back to the network’. List what you want to be able to do and prioritise them in case not all of them are possible with one device. Ensure that you make this available when talking to suppliers. This will help them to provide a quote that is fit for your needs. It also gives you something to refer back to if the device is not fit for purpose.

What will be your strategy for implementation? You might want to consider:

  • Timescales: Over what period of time are you considering implementation? Will it be all in one go, with a pilot group/class/year group?
  • Training/CPD: What will you provide? This could be workshops, surgeries, inspire sessions to share ideas or straightforward skills sessions. For many, the greatest need might not be how to use the technology but how to integrate it into the school day, including ideas and suggestions for use in lessons. Also consider whether your supplier can offer CPD as part of their offer.
  • Technical support: Can your current provider of technical support manage the new devices, do they require training too?
  • Ownership: If you are considering one per pupil, who will own the device? Have you considered sharing the responsibility with parents?

It is tempting to be excited when you see a tablet in action and want to get them into classrooms as soon as possible, but make sure you have time to consider how this will be done. The definition of vision is ‘the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom’ (OED); you may have the imagination but it is the wisdom that will ensure that you succeed with your implementation.

Schools’ spending in recovery

A recent survey reveals the financial status of the education sector continues to be increasingly positive year on year. The findings come from the sector’s trade association, the British Educational Suppliers Association’s (BESA) quarterly ‘Education Market Performance Outlook’ survey of 137 primary, 91 secondary schools and 66 sector suppliers. Each quarter the survey explores changes in the spending plans of schools and the sales being experienced by suppliers.

Schools indicated a rise in expenditure in all the areas categorised; ICT, non ICT and furniture/storage equipment. Spending in 2013/14 was projected by schools to increase by 2.7 per cent, after reported growth of 2.3 per cent in 2012/13. Of the 137 primary schools surveyed, the outlook for 2013/14 spending was expected to increase by 3.6 per cent, while secondary schools indicated an overall positive growth of 2 per cent.

The research carried out in conjunction with the National Education Research Panel (NERP),   highlighted a shift in investment in technology in particular. In 2011/12, spending on ICT products was forecast to decline by 5.4 per cent. However spending in 2012/13 has been estimated to have increased by 2.1 per cent and is projected to increase by 2.9 per cent in 2013/14.

Caroline Wright, director at BESA comments, “The research comes at a time of significant change within the education sector. The introduction of the new primary curriculum in September 2013 is driving demand in schools for aligned resources, schemes of work and teacher’s material. It is heartening for the economy that the findings of our quarterly survey show a positive and optimistic outlook by both schools and suppliers.”

Engayne Primary School Headteacher Suzanne Ship wins Education Resources Award











Suzanne Ship, headteacher of Engayne Primary School, Upminster has been presented with the national Education Resources Award in the ‘Leadership in Education’ category for her outstanding governance of the school. 

The Education Resources Awards honour the quality and diversity of educational establishments and the most dedicated members of the industry. In their fifteenth successful year, the Education Resources Awards are organised by BESA, the trade education sector’s trade association.

The judges, an independent panel of experienced educational professionals, most of whom are classroom teachers, felt that Suzanne works tirelessly to raise the school to the level of ‘outstanding’ in its 2011 Ofsted inspection report. The school provides an exceptionally well-rounded education and the strong sense of community within such a large school is a major achievement.

Suzanne Ship, headteacher, Engayne Primary School comments, “I was taken aback and delighted to find out that I had been nominated and shortlisted, so it is difficult to put into words how I felt when my name was announced as the winner of this prestigious national award.  I would like to thank the hard work and dedication of the team at Engayne who have made this achievement a reality.”

Caroline Wright, director, BESA comments: “What makes these Awards different is that they focus on the people that really make an impact on learning. We would like to congratulate Suzanne for the quality and success of her leadership which contributes to the lives of everyone involved with the school.”

The Havering School Improvement Services’ Computing and ICT Team would like to add their congratulations to Suzanne too for all of the work that she has done with us to help promote new technologies in education over many years.  Well done Suzanne!

Schools increase technology spend according to BESA’s ‘ICT in UK State Schools’ survey

Technology budgets across UK schools are increasing, despite concern just a year ago that the government’s removal of ring-fenced funding for ICT could jeopardise spending. According to the British Educational Suppliers Association’s (BESA) 15th annual ‘ICT in UK State Schools’ survey, schools increased investment in technology by 2.1% in the year to July 2012, with primary schools pushing up spending by 2.3% and secondary schools increasing budgets by 1.8%. Looking forward, the trend looks set to continue with 2013/4 ICT budgets forecast to rise by 3.3% in primary and 2.8% in secondary schools.

The BESA research was carried out in conjunction with the National Education Research Panel in July 2012 among 1,317 UK schools, 766 primary and 551 secondary. It estimates that ICT expenditure in the academic year to July 2012 reached £246.5 million, with 43% of this spend in primary schools and 46.7% in secondary schools being assigned solely to the provision of computer hardware. Spending covered desktop, laptop and tablet computers, as well as peripheral items such as digital content.

The full article can be read here

Source: ICT for Education