With computing soon to be taught in lieu of ICT, many teachers are keen to share advice and concerns with their peers. Miles Berry, author of Switched on Computing, talks about the fresh opportunities for creativity in the new curriculum, and shares some advice on how to take on these new challenges.

Whilst it’s easy to focus on the ‘core knowledge’ aspects of the new National Curriculum, creativity is an important dimension, and I think rightly so. The stated aims for the curriculum as a whole include engendering an appreciation for human creativity, and it’s hard to see this happening without some opportunity for pupils to work in this way. The computing programme of study speaks of pupils coming to understand and change the world through computational thinking and creativity, and includes, as one of its aims, that pupils become creative users of ICT.

As recently demonstrated in Richard Spencer’s Boogie Biology article, students have a blast shimmying their way through different subjects. Composer and educator Brian Madigan discusses the opportunities given by a classroom foxtrot.

I was lucky enough to spend the recent half-term break with my family and some friends on the beautiful Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales, which I can heartily recommend for its stunning landscapes, friendly welcome and abundant wildlife.

When pupils and staff return to school in September, a new computing curriculum will begin. Jon Chippindall, a Year 5 teacher working in Manchester, discusses how teachers can make the most of the new setup.

[As seen in the February 2014 edition of our magazine]

As the countdown to computing continues, primary schools across the country are considering how best to redesign their ICT curriculum to incorporate the computer science elements of the new national curriculum, whilst maintaining valuable aspects of ICT.

Given that this is a transformative time for British education, many teachers will be looking to gauge how the new curriculum will affect their work. Tim Handley, Year 5 maths and ICT lead at Norfolk’s Woodland Primary Academy, looks at the specifics of the upcoming curriculum, and discusses how maths teachers can best go about getting the most from it.

The Department for Education (DfE) is concerned that England is lagging behind other countries in maths, calling for us to be more ambitious in this area of our children’s education, following the example set by higher performing countries such as Singapore. It is certainly true that the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) league tables show the UK is behind global rivals. In international tests taken by 15 year olds, we are failing to make the top 20 in maths, reading and science. In a recent report on Mathematics, it was highlighted that British 15 year olds’ mathematics skills are now more than two whole academic years behind 15 year olds in Shanghai. England's Education Secretary Michael Gove said that since the 1990s, test performances had been "at best stagnant, at worst declining”.

Given how coding has ruled the headlines in recent months, most teachers are discussing the pros and cons of the matter. Peter Mason, an avid computing enthusiast, discusses why he considers the changes to be positive.

Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the past year, you won’t have missed the changes to the National Curriculum that are taking place. These changes include a controversial shift in focus from ICT to computing. Starting from September this year, the National Curriculum will emphasise on empowering pupils to be the next generation of creators - not just passive consumers. The means to achieving this is teaching children to code.

The controversy hasn't stopped at the National Curriculum. The Government has recently put its weight behind the Year of Code campaign, with a launch that appears to have been criticised by everyone from educators to businesses. Myths abound on what programming is and isn't at the moment, but one fact is that computer programming isn't for everyone, just like art isn’t. There are, however, some great reasons to teach kids to code.

If you are reading this and already a scuba diver, you will only be too aware of the thrills that this exhilarating sport offers: a combination of intoxicating colours, weightlessness, adventure and being able to see a huge array of exotic marine life that others only witness in an aquarium.

However, the list of benefits the sport can offer children and young adults extends far beyond these amazing sensory factors.

As the 2012-13 school year comes to a close, teachers will be deciding what they should include in next year's curriculum. In this post, curriculum leader for Geography David Rogers describes a five-step method he implemented in his school which gave students in Years 7 to 9 the opportunity to decide for themselves what makes a 'perfect lesson' and then write their ideas onto the schemes of work in Google Docs. In this way, students can effectively - and lawfully - 'hack' their curriculum!

Lots of schools and teachers bang on about giving students a voice, but very few actually allow them to have one. At Priory Geography, we have developed a strong culture of allowing young people to get involved in making decisions about school life, for example:

  • The Space Explorers, Space Creators Building Schools of the Future Project supported by a 21st Century Learning Alliance Fellowship;
  • Choosing our GCSE Specification during the last round of GCSE ‘reform’, and;
  • Creating the Mobile Learning Policy for Priory School.

As the Government abandons its plans to replace GCSE’s with English Baccalaureate Certificates, it has unveiled proposals to strengthen the national curriculum in England. The consultation exercise includes plans for a new computing curriculum designed to equip students with the basic skills and drive higher expectations and standards. Under the new approach, schools will be encouraged to shape the curriculum to meet the aspirations and priorities of pupils. But it overlooks one thing: how do you cater for and engender creativity and flair?

Imagination is more important than knowledge

It was Albert Einstein who famously said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.” For many students, seeing the germ of an idea flourish and grow empowers them with a renewed confidence and teaches them so much more about themselves. As such, it is incumbent upon teachers to try and develop lesson plans that capture the passion and drive that resides in everyone and help draw it out. Nowhere is this more apparent than in app development work. There is something unique about app development that sparks the imagination and fires a student’s creativity and ingenuity. For teachers and education professionals alike, tailored lessons based on app development may provide the seed that engenders a spirit of discovery and engagement that ultimately can be built upon across the entire computing curriculum.

PSHE is an interesting subject area in the UK. Much government policy and school rhetoric depict its importance, yet the status of PSHE as a subject is complex (PSHE Association, 2010). To over simplify a little, it is statutory to teach PSHE, but there is not a statutory curriculum which sets out what should be taught... to my mind this was the perfect opportunity to try something new.

My students did not need instruction in how to practice teaching; what I decided would be valuable to them is an invitation to explore their thinking, to examine the area of PSHE and, upon examination, explore what a curriculum could look like. For the last few years I have been following the work of Ewan McIntosh and his colleagues on ‘Design Thinking’ in eduction, and the structure this gives for creation seemed an ideal vehicle for this exploration.

Photo credit: Standford

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