In January 2012, education secretary Michael Gove announced that the ICT national curriculum would be ‘disapplied’, giving schools complete autonomy over what they’d teach pupils in ICT, in the hope that they’d make the most of
the chance to develop rigorous, challenging curricula encompassing much more CS. Computing at School had already developed its own Computer Science Curriculum, and platforms such as Kodu and Quick Basic were starting to attract the interest of a few primary teachers. Later that year, the decision was made to develop a new, statutory programme of study for ICT, subsequently renamed Computing, drawing on the expertise of educators, the IT industry and computer scientists. The new programme of study, which becomes a statutory requirement in September 2014, guarantees an entitlement to be taught Computer Science, IT and digital literacy for all children in local authority primary and secondary schools.
Whilst some programming had been on the National Curriculum right from the start, the new programme of study raises the expectations significantly, emphasising aspects of computational thinking and an understanding of computer systems as well as coding. The new programme of study has high ambitions. It begins: “A high-quality Computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world.” The preamble and aims make clear that this is about much more than children learning to program; for example, one of the aims is that pupils “can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science”
The foundations for this are laid early on, with 5-7 year-olds (Key Stage 1) being taught about algorithms and to use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs, as well to create and debug programs of their own.
7-11 year-olds should develop their understanding further still, decomposing problems into smaller parts, and using logical reasoning to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs, in addition to using programming
constructs such as sequence, selection, repetition and variables, and working on projects that involve controlling or simulating physical systems. There’s also an expectation that pupils understand the internet and the web, and appreciate how search engines like Bing select and rank results. The programme of study, as with the rest of the national curriculum, should be considered the equivalent of building regulations rather than architects’ plans.There’s ample scope for teachers and others, individually or collectively, to develop their own creative, stimulating schemes of work, resources and lesson plans for pupils here.