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.
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.