the Dragonfly journal

The New Computing Curriculum - Are we Ready?


      Last year the government proposed new changes to our educational curriculum with an aim to keep up with the world’s best school systems. At the time of proposal, the curriculum was widely perceived as having targets too challenging to achieve in such a short space of time, and teachers across the UK emphasised their feelings with great effect. One of the most shocking changes, and one that everyone would have to adapt to quickly was undoubtedly that to the computing/ICT curriculum.

    ‘Computing will teach pupils how to write code. Pupils aged five to seven will be expected to understand what algorithms are and to create and debug simple programs. By the age of 11, pupils will have to design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems.’ 

    This was one of the demands set out by the curriculum changes that were first proposed. As BBC Education pointed out in July 2013, these changes across the curriculum were to keep up with the world’s finest educational sectors. The proposal nevertheless still caused quite a stir. Ministers with very little experience in the educational sector were setting deadlines for a new curriculum that seemed too challenging to meet. Teachers' unions warned that the timetable for implementing the changes in autumn 2014 would be “completely unrealistic”. Yet, as we approach a new academic year, it is fair to say that teachers from all over the UK have pulled together through all mediums available, whether it be via social media, TeachMeets, CPD conferences or casual networking, to make sure they can continue to deliver some of the best educational practice around.

    Are we ready for the new curriculum?

    If someone said a year ago that pupils would be coding by the time they were 11 we all would have laughed. Not because we didn’t think the pupils could learn but because there would be no one to teach them to that level. Nevertheless, over the last academic year there has been a desire from teachers across all subjects to learn. At Dragonfly Training we witnissed this desire first hand, responding to the needs of teachers nationwide, ultimately producing two of our most popular courses: Preparing to Deliver an Effective Computer Science Curriculum and Prepare to Teach Computer Science with Python, delivered by the renowned Alan O'Donohoe. With £4m given to bodies such as The Chartered Institute for IT to ensure there were people who could educate the educators, the resources have been put into place to make sure everyone is on the same level.

    So, as emphasised in Peter Gothard’s article Are educators ready for Michael Gove's new computing curriculum?: ‘It seems most schools, rather than burying their heads in the sand as was initially a fear, have developed contingency plans, and are facing the future with confidence.’

    Growing up with child geniuses able to complete graphic design tasks the majority of us would struggle to accomplish in our lifetimes is a future that we will all have to get used to. And, whether we believe in the curriculum changes or not, as of September, schools will be teaching five-year-olds basic coding skills. So let’s get behind it.

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