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Being a computing leader in primary

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Primary computing lesson

Nowhere else is it more implied that good computing skills are a game changer than in the Primary National Curriculum: “A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and CHANGE THE WORLD!”

It is true that we are currently teaching children the skills and knowledge to prepare them for careers in jobs that don’t yet exist, solving problems that aren’t yet problems, using technology that hasn’t yet been invented; and, pending an apocalyptic event, technology will never cease to advance and grow into every area of life.

So, why is it that some senior leaders frustratingly decide to compromise computing in the timetable? Why do we walk into a computer lesson and witness classes merely using computers to learn times tables or read stories? Why are we using ancient equipment on temperamental networks? Why is there such a reluctance among staff to engage with their own CPD in order to remove this fear of computing?

These are all serious issues we face as a computing lead.

By the way, how did you land the role? Was it because you were the youngest and there for you ‘get technology’, or because you were fresh from your ECT and therefore have the latest training under your belt? Or was it that you once fixed the sound in the hall, or like me, went to the loo when the subjects were being handed out?

Whatever the reason, please let me take this opportunity to congratulate and encourage you. Computing is one of - if not THE most - exciting subjects to lead. Cutting edge, creative, technical, surprising, with plenty of ‘awe and wonder’ moments; it promotes collaborative learning, independence, exploration, and logic. But more importantly, there is no future that I can think of that will not require good digital literacy and IT skills for humans to thrive and survive.

Thanks to the National Centre of Computing Education there is now a wealth of free CPD which can be done online in your own time, live remote, or face-to-face, covering every topic of computing imaginable. Specifically for computing subject leads, the Computing Quality Framework provides you with not only an excellent and comprehensive diagnostic tool, but accreditation for your school on completion. If it’s personal accreditation for your CV you’re after, please take a look at our Primary Computing Certificate, for which there is a leadership pathway. This will enable you to:

  • develop your knowledge and skills in primary computing
  • gain the confidence to teach great lessons and inspire learners
  • build your profile and take an active role in the computing community
  • receive a nationally recognised certificate in primary computing

There is also a completely free, high-quality full computing curriculum you can download, with training available for computing leads in how to implement the subject across your whole school. There are also short 'Getting started' courses available for every year group (1 to 6) that cover hardware and software requirements, provide hints and tips, and offer a chance for students to gain hands-on experience with the apps they will be using. A must for those staff members who just need a little more confidence!

And as for you, my very special computing lead friends, not only are we hosting ‘The Big Computing Leadership Conference’ on December 14 2023, but you now also have specialists for major areas in computing education, including myself, responsible for primary computing subject leads. Please have a look at our Computing Leadership web page where we have collated links to resources and courses we think you’ll find the most helpful. The page also gives you the opportunity for you to share your ideas, feedback and suggestions to improve how we can help you even further.

Finally, if there is anything you need, please do not hesitate to get in touch using our feedback form - we’d love to hear from you!

See you on the 14th December!

About the author

Phil Wickins is a National Specialist in Primary Computing Leadership for the the National Centre for Computing Education and Senior Professional Development Leader for STEM Learning.