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11 February 2023

The E.N.I.D...

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ALLEN Tsui | Primary School Teacher

As a vocal advocate of Computing, it was deeply distressing to receive reports of a school whose leadership apparently dismissed the subject as part of “PPA time” so seemingly and publicly relegating the learning to a desirable part of the school timetable than an essential part of the curriculum.  As Twitter’s @MrsWraithmell referred in her strategic guide “The Digital Ecosystem”, leading Computing is so much more than simply handing out digital devices to allow children or students be screen-time occupied for the duration of whatever time period a lesson is expected to be.

The sense of disappointment was perhaps compounded by the fact that at the mid-point of the school year, the speculation over when “an inspector calls” continued to be at fever-pitch combined with a leadership style which seems preoccupied with the outward facing persona of the school rather than the core functions of teaching and learning.

So how can subject specialists hold senior colleagues to account to ensure that all parts of the curriculum are given equal priority?  Given the performativity measures imposed by successive policy makers which makes schools focus on the metrics that matter, the constraints of funding and time perhaps puts the onus back on Middle leaders to steer the strategy for their specialisms to a place where ‘we’ as a collective teaching community can be professionally proud.

Where Computing is concerned, the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) Computing Quality Framework enables schools to evidence the teaching and showcase the learning.  While such accreditations serve a very important purpose, there remains a personal sense of needing to maintain the momentum by modelling collaboration to the students through building partnerships with other schools and organisations in the field.  This is where Universities and other established Institutions or organisations could do better.  It seems as though from making tentative enquiries in the pursuit of a Royal Society Schools Partnership Grant that the upper echelons of academia simply don’t want to know.  “Too busy” they say to be involved in a STEM-centric schools project.  Fobbing off younger siblings within the education sector in this way could be accused of institutionalised bias and ultimately be detrimental to the future of teaching and learning.

Choosing a professional ‘flightpath’ to be a champion for Computing means flying through such temporary turbulence to push harder on the throttle of determination and fortitude.  Simon Humphreys belated New Year message in early 2023 to the Computing at School Community Leaders with a clarion call of “more to do if all young people are to receive a vibrant computing curriculum, equipping them for the digital world of today and tomorrow” is more necessary and important than ever…