Philip Anley, Bishopstone Primary School, is a CAS Master Teacher and leader of Swindon hub. Philip writes about his experiences with the new curriculum in his school with the active support of his Head teacher, running CPD and leading a CAS hub.
Of course looking back it was Computing milk and honey – our local authority had a dedicated ICT lead who organised regular gatherings; resource sharing; and endless free CPD training sessions. Who could have known that the chill winds and unprecedented contraction in services brought about by the credit crunch would lead to a situation in which nobody was left to offer any external support to teachers of ICT?
Such was the new reality encountered by primary teachers in Swindon from 2009. A valiant effort was made to keep the loose network of enthusiastic teachers going. Teachers have precious little spare time though. When I was asked in 2011 to take over the running of ICT gatherings and presented with an email distribution list it seemed as though the best that I could hope for was a rough assemblage of weary teachers on occasion going forward.
But this was to underestimate the Swindon computing fraternity. The Swindon Teaching School asked me to become a SLE in 2012 and to create a computing group. We decided on the name Research and Innovation Group (RIG). I combined this with the network of teachers who had previously been meeting and began running meetings that were hosted at various schools in Swindon.
Out of all the subjects, ICT was one in which a little sharing of innovative teaching went a reassuringly long way. Then came the new curriculum and “Computing” was born. Where attendees to our meetings had been quite settled in their ways but interested in exploring new ideas to enliven lessons, now suddenly I was finding a more panicked response around how to teach coding; what assessment was meant to look like and how to use tablets effectively in class. I launched a Working Group for more ‘hands-on’ sessions and we created a scheme of work, funded by the Swindon Teaching School, which was sent out to every primary school in Swindon. It is available at www.swindonrig.net
Fast forward to 2013 and Computing At School approached my group to see if we would like to set up a Hub. I was also invited to apply to become a Master Teacher. This was a natural fit and a great boost to us. The role of Master Teacher was explained to me at the training day as: one willing to model the teaching of top-quality computing and, even more importantly, to be able to bring people together in the sharing of good practice.
What this has meant to me personally is the support of a top-notch organisation in my endeavours who have the breadth and presence to guide me with individual advice, but also as a large collective entity. The discussions in CAS forums; the wealth of materials on the teachprimarycomputing.org.uk site; and the selfless collaboration that is encouraged have spurred me on to develop our RIG group into a focused part of a much larger body.
Professionally I find myself in demand as a primary school teacher who is at peace with the myriad benefits of computing in all its forms to the teaching of all the subjects. Put simply there is a way to help the teaching of every subject through the incorporation of new technologies: from visualizers to slow-motion apps; quad-blogging to MaKey MaKey – the fun to be had – and thus the learning – is enormous.
The sorts of activity that this leads to with other teachers varies depending on the circumstance. Our Hub meetings tend to have at least one visiting speaker. We also often feature new products / sites / apps and offer attendees the chance to share their own "Quick Picks". When visiting other schools the most effective way to model a lesson idea is to deliver that lesson whilst being watched. If a presentation is requested then time at the end to explore the concepts / software is essential. I recently demonstrated ways to use a VLE and found myself taken aback at the new ideas being generated at pace once the teachers were comfortable with the nature of that environment.
None of this would be possible for me – as I suspect is the case with other Master Teachers – without the amazing support of my school, Bishopstone C of E Primary School. My Head, Emma, sees an overlap in the opportunities that I am given to help other schools, and the fresh ideas that feed into our own school. We have been a host school for CAS CPD training but the bulk of my work for CAS at this time is as a Hub leader, and it is in that role that I feel most able to reach, and hopefully to help, the maximum number of teachers in our area.