Computers are now part of everyday life. For most of us, technology is essential to our lives, at home and at work. ‘Computational thinking’ is a skill children must be taught if they are to be ready for the workplace and able to participate effectively in this digital world. The new national curriculum for computing has been developed to equip young people in England with the foundational skills, knowledge and understanding of computing they will need for the rest of their lives. Through the new programme of study for computing, they will learn how computers and computer systems work, they will design and build programs, develop their ideas using technology and create a range of content. But what does this mean for primary schools? How should school leaders be planning for the new curriculum and how can teachers develop the additional skills they will need?
A high-quality computing education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science, and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of computing is computer science, in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, pupils are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology
The core of computing is computer science (CS), in which pupils are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, pupils are equipped to use information technology (IT) to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that pupils become digitally literate (DL) – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.
The national curriculum for computing aims to ensure that all pupils:
- can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation (CS)
- can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems (CS)
- can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems (IT)
- are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology (DL)
There will be a more detailed look at the programme of study, but a quick scan of the subject content shows expectations for the three aspects of computing at each key stage. The content has been adapted below to show how it can be broken down into three sub-sections.
Click the above link to go to the National Curriculum