I am a Curriculum Leader of a large and busy ICT department. I am supported by a hardworking and adventurous staff. We have a whole cohort entry for KS4 ICT, and more than half of our Year 9s have opted this year for another IT or Computing option. Our kids are far from bored, and speaking for myself, I haven’t been bored for years!
I have a Computer Science degree, but the changes to our curriculum have not been without challenge to me. It’s been a roller coaster. First we were all told that we were “teaching old fashioned content”, that “all kids are digital natives”, “IT is taught to bored kids by bored teachers”. Then we were all told we’d be provided with a brand spanking new curriculum. The the whole nation was told that we weren’t skilled enough to teach it. We would need a new crop of “Computer Science graduates”. They’d be the very best. They’d get a £20 000 bursary. None of this sat well with me, or many other IT teachers. The overwhelming majority of IT teachers have at least some CS skills already, and teachers in general are an adaptable bunch. Most of us have had the experience of another subject on our timetables that is not our specialism, and in my experience when that happens we do our very best to get that right. Britain’s Computer Science teachers already exist, and they are already working hard, through CAS for example, to find each other. As for our children being digital natives, perhaps they are in some respects. Does this mean they instantly know how to use a database? Does this mean they already know all the principles of good design? Of course not. Many of them have also been surrounded by the English language since birth. This does not mean that they don’t need to be taught how to read and write. IT will need to live on.
Over the last couple of years, I have started to put together a Computer Science curriculum that might sit happily with Key Stage Three and Four students, and their teachers. I have tried to balance the new CS skills with all the great things about IT. I have done all the standard things. I have joined CAS, I have started a GCSE in Computing at my school, I bought the Rasberry Pi and Lego Mindstorms and together with our Digital Leaders have had a go. It’s been fun so far, and it’s been interesting, but I certainly don’t think I’m there yet. I hope to use this blog (which is my first!) to share some of the ideas, and hopefully swap some ideas, and maybe convince a few more nervous ICT departments that it is not so hard to do.
My first few entries after this one will be “Jobs for the girls”, “links with industry”, “programming kick starter”, and some practical ways of delivering CS theory content.