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14 April 2022

Shaking Up the Curriculum

Joanne Hodge profile image
Written by

Joanne Hodge | Primary School Teacher

Currently, in our school, we have decided to shake-up  our current curriculum. As a school team, we started with the question ‘Why?’. Why is each subject taught and how does that subject benefit the children in our care? Philosophical Concepts are framed with enquiry-based questions underpinning each term and developed through a ‘Discover, Explore, and Create approach’. Previously, we had a topic theme each term (which will remain), however, the difference is we are covering a specific subject or subjects in-depth. For example, in the Autumn Term discover will be addressed through History. That is not to say other subjects will not be linked in where appropriate. Ultimately, we are: ‘designing our curriculum to ensure that children are not merely covering content but achieving a depth to their learning which enables them to use their skills and understanding in all areas of the curriculum.’ (Our Lady of Lourdes  ‘The Why of Our Curriculum’ document 2021).

This has always been my philosophy with regards to our school Computing curriculum. Why do we try and cram in a 6-week unit in each half term when it clearly does not fit with curriculum expectations? How could we possibly cover a topic in-depth enough and give it the time it deserves? Where in the National Curriculum or feedback from Ofsted does it mention that this must be so? Surely, we must put the pupils at the heart of our curriculum and give them the time to ‘gradually develop a deeper understanding of the skills and processes within subjects, at their own pace and in the best possible way for each individual child.’ (Our Lady of Lourdes  ‘The Why of Our Curriculum’ document 2021).

What we all know is that the ‘Quality of Education’ we all offer must fit within a clear, sequential framework, built on the three I’s – intent, implementation and impact. In other words, we must deliver a ‘high-quality education’ which ensures pupil attainment and progression.

With this in mind, what of the Computing Curriculum at Our Lady of Lourdes? For many years now, we have been teaching one unit per term taken from an existing bought-in scheme and more recently mixed with the NCCE Computing curriculum. Alongside this, are Barefoot Computing sessions to develop and consolidate computational thinking and a unit of physical computing using devices such as Beebots, Microbits, Spheros and Crumbles. Each physical unit is linked to their topic theme e.g. History - Roman Chariots coded with Crumbles. The reason for this was that classes were only getting an hour a week in the ICT suite and use of ipads once per week due to the fact we are a large primary school. This meant that units were not be completed fully and in-depth. Another aspect to this approach, was that it enabled teachers to use the allocated time for other subjects e.g. for research or to create documents, ppts etc. I remember attending a CAS meeting about secondary transition in Computing and one of the key issues was that pupils were not able to type or save documents but could code well in Scratch. Obviously, with introduction of the new computing curriculum, these basic skills have been diminished so by streamlining to just one unit per term, it allowed time for this. Also, if  a few more weeks are neededon a unit, the flexibility is there to do so. It also provides time to revisit topics or key concepts and approaches to enable a deeper knowledge and understanding. I believe that if the NC objectives are being covered and there is clear progression, with linked learning across your Computing curriculum overview, then you are doing what is expected. Ultimately, doing what is best for the pupils in your school:

‘…a primary school that fulfils the spirit as well as the letter of the national curriculum, across the full range of subjects, is already in the right place with its curriculum…’ Ofsted 2019

Discussion

Rachael Coultart
15/04/2022 10:45

Hi, Jo. Some great food for thought here and I’d be really interested to see your ‘The Why of our Curriculum’ document in more detail sometime. This is a topic that many schools are still grappling with - we certainly are! We’re trying the NCCE ‘six week unit every half term’ at the moment and reviewing it as we go along so we can make a more infomred decision about what to do next year… and just hoping Ofsted don’t come knocking just yet!

Jo Hodge
15/04/2022 18:15

We are in the same boat and hoping for next year or the year after! Computing is on the heads list for a possible deep dive which is scary! Here is the link to our curriculum page on our website which includes our why document written by the head:

Allen Tsui
16/04/2022 05:30

Thank you for sharing. A very thought provoking and insightful read. Personally, I don’t see curriculum design particularly for Computing as static for the reasons I’ve set out in this Schemes of Work statement I recently updated. Also to say that before the current (2021-22) school year started, my colleagues and I took the strategic decision to organise our teaching into five blocks - Computational Thinking, Digital Citizenship, Coding, Creative Computing (Multimedia) and Information Science (Data Handling) where everybody across the school would be working on learner end-points within that block. Worked well so far. Schemes_of_Work_Strategy_updated_March_2022.pdf - Google Drive

Stuart Ball
23/05/2022 20:35

Thanks for sharing this Jo.

Stuart Ball
23/05/2022 20:38

I agree Allen , any curriculum design is a bit like my BASIC programming :rofl:

10 Design Curriculum
20 Implement Curriculum
30 See something brilliant
40 GOTO 10

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