When Ofsted visited King Charles Primary School their inspection included a ‘deep dive’ into computing.
Dawn Walker is Computing Lead at King Charles Primary School in Walsall, and is Leader for Walsall Primary CAS Community. She explained how the school handled the ‘deep dive’ to showcase their ‘whole school’ response to computing. That was back in February 2020, but with Ofsted now resuming inspections, Dawn is passed on advice from their experience to help schools prepare for an Ofsted ‘deep dive’.
“It was the first time that I’ve ever known an Ofsted inspection to be so positive about computing,” said Dawn, who has taught at the school for eight years.
Deep dives, the methodology introduced by Ofsted in September 2019, involve an in-depth analysis of four to five key subjects, which includes discussions with senior leaders, teachers, pupils and curriculum leaders as well as scrutiny of pupils’ work and lesson observations. The ‘deep dive’ at King Charles took place over two days and included meetings with the Safeguarding Online Safety team and with Dawn as the Computing Lead.
“If possible, be at the Safeguarding meeting to discuss what is being done to meet the requirements of KCSIE and Teaching online safety in school guidance,” advised Dawn.
“It meant that in our computing interview, I could talk about all the other things we do, rather than spend that time going through online safety. We only had a 30-minute meeting, so I was able to make the most of that time,” said Dawn. “The Inspector was fantastic - he spent a few minutes putting me at ease. It felt like a conversation rather than an interrogation.”
The inspector observed KS1 and KS2 computing lessons, talked to children and attended a Safer Internet Day Assembly, which happened to be held on the day he attended. He talked to teachers and TAs, as well as looking at all our documentation.
“He talked to everyone, he would stop teachers in the corridor and quiz them on our computing curriculum. Everyone really needs to be onboard and really understand what we are doing,” said Dawn, whose computing team includes a High-Level Teaching Assistant (HLTA) and a Technical Assistant. Dawn was asked how the school prepares children for their digital lives.
“By having ‘always available’ tech, they see it as a tool not a treat. Children are encouraged to get involved with creating content and editing websites, supporting younger pupils and looking after technology in assemblies and classrooms. We use ‘new’ technologies like VR/AR/green screen and discussed the implications of new technologies such as AI and Big Data as part of lessons,” she said.
The school’s specialist HLTA works hard to improve staff’s digital confidence and was also interviewed.
“The inspector was particularly interested in our coaching model, where our HLTA works to support teaching staff who are less confident in computing and IT, by offering supportive coaching,” said Dawn.
Pupils at King Charles are encouraged to use technology respectfully and responsibly.
“We discussed the IT Rules and sanctions, which are reviewed annually by Yr6. These are displayed around school. We respond proactively to incidents such as online bullying and have sanctions in place which means occasionally, we have seen children banned from using the technology for a period of time if necessary.”
Online Safety is embedded in a ‘whole school’ approach which includes their Safer Internet Day, external visitors (Change Your Mind, NSPCC) PHSE curriculum links, displays, Digital Ambassadors, websites, weekly newsletters etc. The inspector also wanted to know about staff training and CPD opportunities.
“I’m CAS trained and we’re a CAS Hub for the local community,” said Dawn. “Being part of the CAS Community really helped prior to the Inspection. I visited a colleague from the Community who had recently undertaken a computing deep dive and his experience helped to prepare me for mine. Collaboration is what the CAS community meetings is all about.”
The team at King Charles were also asked how they prepare children for secondary school and for life outside school.
“We use G Suite for education tools. Children also use Purple Mash from KS1 as it is more accessible. These offer a suite of tools that allow the children to choose the most appropriate way of presenting information and can be managed easily using Purple Mash Boards and Google Classroom.”
“We were asked how we meet National Curriculum expectations. Our curriculum statements for Yr6 are based on the CAS Curriculum statements and pupil ICAN statements,” said Dawn. “Our specialist Computing HLTA and Computing teacher deliver the curriculum. We recognised that aspects of the CAS curriculum are ‘aspirational’ so also looked at how we develop staff confidence and different models we use to support different ability levels.”
King Charles uses Purple Mash Computing Scheme for staff - but staff can change the tools, theme and delivery if they wished. The Inspector saw an example of this in Yr 1 where Scratch Junior was being used instead of 2 Code. They were also asked to provide evidence of progression.
“In Y1 for instance we might start by discussing what an Algorithm is, looking at sequencing and storytelling, which is essentially, what sequencing is. All our Yr1 pupils could tell the inspector what an algorithm is. They go on to develop an understanding of sequencing, loops, selection and variables.”
Dawn was delighted that Ofsted rated the school as good and praised computing specifically.
“We’re part of a two-school federation and have a large children’s centre, so are responsible for 900 children. We work with a challenging demographic – this is not a ‘leafy suburb’ – so I’m even more proud of what we’ve achieved, with the support of senior leadership recognising the value of tech, and the commitment of staff and children.”
Since the school has evaluated its digital learning offer during Covid in preparation for its next Ofsted.
“We know that it will be a focus for them so have decided to get ahead by carrying out staff, pupil and parent surveys and data analysis of engagement,” said Dawn. “We’re due an Ofsted at our other school very soon so it will be interesting to compare what they ask this time compared with last time.”
What Ofsted said:
Ofsted rated King Charles as a ‘good’ school and praised computing specifically;
“Computing is a strength of the school. The planned curriculum is exciting and ambitious. It challenges pupils from the start. For example, Year 1 pupils design and write programs to create a short film sequence. Teachers make good use of the immersion room to bring this and many other subjects to life.”
“Safer internet work is a real strength. Pupils have a good understanding of how to keep themselves safe. They carry out sophisticated checking of any website before they use it. Recently appointed ‘keeping safe’ pupil ambassadors work with staff to make sure school is a safe place to be.
“Pupils are particularly proud of the immersion room where they relish learning computing.”
• They will evaluate everything you say - be honest!
• Briefly set the scene about where you are on the journey, strengths and targets for development.
• Create an online or physical folder of evidence.
• Find an effective way with communicating what you will say to ALL staff.
• Ensure that the children know what they have covered and can show the Inspector their work.
• Have work, schemes, assessment etc available for them to look at.