Creating a new ICT curriculum

Just before breaking up for the summer holidays this year, I was appointed as ICT Coordinator at my school, a large primary in south London. As part of the interview process, I was asked to deliver a 10-minute presentation on my vision for ICT at my school and my key priorities. This turned out to be a useful and valuable process, which got me thinking about mapping out a new ICT curriculum.

The initial idea
In my presentation, I talked about my ideas for a skills-based curriculum that would fit in with our (still fairly new) topic approach. For some time in science, we had been using a series of ‘I can’ statements to level children and my idea was to have a series of ‘I can’ ICT-related statements that teachers should have covered by the end of each year. I wanted to create something that would be clear and ensure progression in ICT, but also flexible enough to let teachers decide how and when they should fit the skills into their planning. At the same time, Ian Addision was kind enough to share the ICT planning site he was working on with me. Also built around a skills-based curriculum, it had set out clear skills to be covered and also suggested tools and software that teachers could use to teach those skills. Immediately, I thought this was excellent and I wanted to create something similar for staff at my school. So building an online resource bank to accompany the ICT curriculum I was proposing became part of my ICT vision and a key priority.

So I got the job…
Now what? I started by looking closely at the National Curriculum levels for  ICT and was fairly shocked to see how few expectations there were. My first response was that my year 4 class had covered much more than was outlined in level 3. I knew then that I wanted a curriculum that would cover the basics set out by the NC and a whole lot more. The limited expectations left a lot of room for interpretation and fun things! I found a document on Primary Resources, which had rephrased the levels as ‘I can’ statements and realised that these were still far too abstract and broad so I set about breaking them down into more manageable, friendly chunks. As I did this, I felt the skills seemed to be grouping themselves together naturally in three groups: Collecting & using information, Sharing & presenting ideas and Simulation, modelling and control. I took further inspiration from Ian and added in a fourth group, Digital literacy & basic skills, and also tagged game design onto the modelling and control section. The basic skills section isn’t set out by the NC, but these skills are going to be expected of our children as they go out into the world and I felt it necessary to have it mapped out to make sure we’re preparing them for that. Finally, I spent some time arranging these skills across the years from Year 1 to Year 6. Not wanting to forget Nursery and Reception, I also set out some ICT skills that relate to their Early Learning Goals and six areas of learning. Most of these ideas came from the brilliant Lancashire Grid for Learning ICT site. This was a huge help because I will freely admit that EYFS was a bit of an unknown entity for me and didn’t really know where to begin! Once the curriculum skills were in place, I began building a resource site to help staff implement these skills.

To monitor how well the skills fit in with planning, I decided to ask staff to highlight any ICT links and teaching in green on their plans and place them in a designated folder on our server. This way I would be able to see what ICT was being covered and also upload the plans to the resource site for others to use in future.

Next steps
The truth is, this is an ongoing process. Are the skills I’ve set out too specific? Are they not specific enough? Does the progression work? Are the skills pitched at the right level? Only time will tell and staff feedback will play an important role in this. I was hesitant whether to share this the online resource bank here yet as it’s not finished, but then I realised that in reality, it never will be! Due to the nature of ICT, it’s going to be something that I am constantly adding to and that’s why the skills will also need reviewing periodically to ensure they remain relevant.

One thing it has certainly helped with is, is identifying the weakest areas in staff knowledge and confidence and enabled me to think about CPD to to target this. After sharing the new curriculum with staff, it became clear straight away that the area people felt least confident about was game design so my Digital Leaders (another part of my vision) and I are planning a staff meeting where we show staff how to use 2DIY.

I should point out, there is a gaping hole in the curriculum I have mapped out: e-safety. Astonishingly, after talking with Ian, I found out that e-safety expectations aren’t clearly outlined anywhere so devising a clear e-safety curriculum is definitely on the to-do list. However, I hope that this is the start of ICT that is more useful, exciting and relevant to children at my school.

N.B: Please feel free to download and use anything I’ve shared, just leave a comment letting me know. If you do, feedback would also be greatly appreciated.

Links
Online resource bank 
EYFS ICT skills map
Y1–Y6 ICT skills map

9 comments

  • A great post as I too became an ICT Coordinator this year and can relate to the issues regarding planning skills and assessment.

  • Pingback: NC Levelling vs Standardised tests (goalonline, Yacapaca) or both? « teachesict

  • A great post that contains really useful information. It has come at just the right time as I have been looking to rewrite the attainment statements. I have thanked you for the inspiration in my post – http://wp.me/p1uj9G-f

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  • Hello Claire,

    It is wonderful to see how committed and creative you have been in overhauling the old, probably QCA-based programme, into a modern, 21st century ICT programme that incorporates effective and appropriate use of a variety of Web 2.0 tools. Well done!

    I also liked the easy to understand level descriptors that you have created to assess learning. Have you had comments about them in terms of the accuracy your interpretations?

    Regards, Andy

    • Thanks for your comments, Andy. The QCA units were indeed what I based my ICT planning on when I started teaching two years ago, but soon realised how out-of-date and restrictive they were.

      I haven’t had any feedback on the accuracy of my interpretations yet, but would be keen to hear anything because, as I mentioned, I see this very much as a work in progress. Evaluation and refinement will definitely follow. Some areas are more my interpretation than others. I took the age-related level children are expected to reach at the end of each year as my starting point. E.g. the age-related level for children at the end of year 4 is 3b so I knew I was looking at level 3 criteria as my basis for the year 4 ‘I can’ statements. Devising year 2 and year 3 statements was slightly trickier as the corresponding end of year expectations for those year groups are 2c and 2a respectively. This meant I had to apply level 2 criteria to both year groups, but work out what was more appropriate for 2c and what was more appropriate for 2a. So those two year groups certainly have more of my interpretation in it than others. Completely new sections like the digital literacy and games design areas are also completely my interpretation. Feedback from staff at my school will hopefully help me determine if I made accurate judgements and got the pitch right. I fully expect to have to amend some parts. I hope this helps explain a little bit more of how it came into being!

  • Hi Claire. I was talking to our ICT lead recently about how out-dated the ICT curriculum is – we still base a lot of our teaching on the QCA units, but some more organic elements have developed over the years. Still, we have to confront issues such as the first thing we try to teach our new Y3 pupils is how to format, edit, copy and paste text. In my opinion, this is such a waste of time as most of our pupils are way beyond this. It’s the same with several aspects of our curriculum. We teach what we are comfortable with or can resource, not necessarily what the pupils need/want to learn.

    There is always going to be an element of ICT which requires specific skills to be taught – as technology changes, new skills will evolve or become prerequisites for accessing the technology. But increasingly for me ICT in schools is about key transferable skills and providing the opportunities for the pupils to apply these skills in a range of contexts. For example, we are doing some work on wikis at the moment. It’s limited to Y6 at present, but all of the specific skills are ones that pupils have learnt from accessing programs such as Word and Ppt, they are second nature to most of them now; the learning comes in the application of these skills in a new context. The is where our pupils are now ‘using a range of presentation tools’, to pick but one example from your map.

    A key obstacle for us, and I feel it reflects an element in every school, is that most staff only teach what they are comfortable with in ICT. Some staff have only a minimal grasp of more current technologies and ICT applications. At the same time, we have shrinking budgets that make it difficult to fund effective CPD and also limit our ability to provide staff and pupils with access to cutting edge technology. For example, my Y6 group is currently in a quad blog with a school from Canada. My children marvelled at the fact that the Canadian pupils have access to iPads in school. We have two ageing ICT suites running on XP, and we are actually doing quite well for ICT resources in comparison to some schools. All of this in a curriculum area that is absolutely central to providing the ‘world class curriculum’ that Mick Waters of QCA demanded. It’s a travesty in many ways, but it also makes work like yours really important because maybe it is down to us to devise that world class curriculum form within.

    Thanks for sharing, I will (in turn) share with my ICT lead and let you know what we make of your map.

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