Switched on Computing for the classroom and beyond

The third edition of Switched on Computing is now available for schools to access.  Now in its tenth year and in 6500+ schools in the UK and overseas, the Switched on Computing series has undergone considerable updates and enhancements to reflect current technologies and in response to user feedback, making it more accessible for use in the classroom and beyond. 

Throughout this time the close working relationship between HES (Havering Education Services) and Rising Stars has helped to ensure that the teaching resources remain relevant and responsive to the changing curricular and technological advancements faced by schools with cloud platforms such as Google G Suite for Education, as well as the more prevalent use of iPads, Chromebooks and BBC micro:bits in primary classrooms.

Here in Havering we have been pleased with the way that Switched on Computing has kept abreast of these developments in order to enable schools to provide a curriculum relevant to the needs of pupils, whilst also being aware of the finite budgets of schools by making the best use of existing equipment and freely available resources – a fundamental principle underlying the scheme from its inception. 


Expert authors and educators

We were happy to see the series once again written by Miles Berry, principal lecturer in Computing Education at the University of Roehampton, as he has such a strong understanding of the curriculum and what works in primary schools.  This time there are even more resources to support teachers and pupils; these have been developed by classroom practitioner, Apple Distinguished Educator and CAS Master Teacher Adam Chase

The series is very much a team effort helping to ensure that the resources are truly fit for the classroom, with rigorous quality assurance and feedback from ourselves and Havering schools and edited and published by our colleagues at Rising Stars. 


So, what do we like about this new edition?

Refreshed for 2020 with new units and updated resources – we are delighted that the resources are now more user-friendly due to the addition of the following new features…

  • 11 new units (out of 36) across Years 1 to 6 -  as ever with Switched on Computing, these are designed to take advantage of edtech tools already in use in schools, signposting freely available digital resources, as well as assisting schools in integrating cloud-based platforms including Google G Suite for Education and devices such as iPads across the computing curriculum.
  • Teaching slides - presentations that can be used as a front-of-class teaching tool to go through the steps in each session, or a set of instructions for pupils to work through. 
  • Video walkthroughs - walk the pupils through the steps they need to take in the sessions when they are using a particular application. They could be used as a front-of-class teaching tool to model the steps, or allocated to pupils to work through independently. These can additionally be used to support teachers who are less confident.
  • Pupil worksheets - there are a range of different types including handouts that take pupils through the steps for a particular application and lesson.
  • End-of-unit knowledge quizzes - Check pupils' knowledge and understanding and identify gaps in learning with self-marking, online quizzes at the end of each unit. 


Not just an intention - ensure full coverage of the primary computing programmes of study

As ever, the series provides full coverage of the programmes of study, and helps users to feel confident in delivering a coherent, complete computing curriculum, helping pupils progress skills, understanding and knowledge. You can also use the course flexibly by adapting it to suit your school’s context and curriculum, and the interests and enthusiasms of your pupils and colleagues. Or make use of units to supplement your existing computing curriculum.


Flexible and adaptable implementation

Switched on Computing is structured around six units of work per year group, each of which has six sessions, or a half term’s worth of work. It can be implemented through weekly computing lessons, or used more flexibly, for example it can be easily adapted to off-timetable theme days. There are many ways to link these units to other subjects pupils are studying, and suggestions for these are included. 

Schools should consider which approach is best suited to their context and be clear why they have chosen this approach as the best way to deliver computing. There are also suggested homework activities to provide a bridge from one session to the next. These should never be seen as essential to completing the unit, but as a way to help engage pupils’ parents with the curriculum content and their child’s learning.


Evaluate the impact of computing lessons and get guidance on assessment with a variety of approaches.

Pupils can provide excellent evidence of their developing skills with the digital artefacts that they make, and a whole-school approach to keeping an online portfolio of each pupil’s work in computing is recommended, clearly demonstrating each pupil’s achievements and progress from one year to the next. There’s no need for work done in the digital domain to be printed off to provide evidence. The system here need not be sophisticated: individual blogs can be set up easily, but cloud-based storage in Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive would be quite sufficient. In most units there is an opportunity for pupils to share their work with their peers, and to get feedback on what went well, or what might have been even better. Encourage pupils to be constructively critical in their feedback and use these sessions as an opportunity to assess the product of pupils’ learning using the unit learning outcomes as a guide.


Why not give the units a try – we look forward to seeing how you get on…

Find out more about the new units or try them with your pupils. Feel free to tweet us @risingstarsedu with any outcomes from using Switched on Computing with your pupils

We hope that you enjoy the units as much as we enjoyed developing them!

Amanda Jackson and Dave Smith - Senior Inspectors – HES




Amanda Jackson

Amanda is a Senior Inspector, working for HES - Havering Education Services. She has 20+ years' experience working across the primary and secondary sectors, including 12 years in school improvement.  She is a School Improvement Professional (SIP) and LA Quality Assurance Inspector for primary schools in Havering, supporting and challenging on whole school improvement. Amanda has worked with Rising Stars on the development of Bett Award winning Switched on Computing, Switched on Online Safety and other titles. She has recently worked with the Department for Education to support the creation of the education technology content of the Teacher Workload Reduction Toolkit. Beyond work, Amanda is a governor of a primary school in Essex, sitting on the Curriculum Committee and chairing the Resources Committee

Dave Smith 

Dave is a local authority senior inspector, providing school improvement support for schools in London and beyond, as well as leading on Traded Services for the Havering Education Services School Improvement team. He has spent the past 19+ years specialising in computing, education technology and online safety support for schools and is a CEOP Online Safety Ambassador. Dave has worked with Rising Stars on the development of the Bett Award winning Switched on Computing, Switched on Online Safety and other titles.  He has recently worked with the Department for Education to support the creation of the education technology content of the Teacher Workload Reduction Toolkit. He is the former Chair of the Board of Management of Naace, a judge for the Bett Awards and Education Resources Awards and a member of the Bett Advisory Board. He was previously a teacher/senior leader in 3 schools, plus a university principal lecturer.  Beyond work he has been a governor of 3 primary schools, plus a secondary school and is currently a governor/member of two secondary MATs.

Twitter - @HES_orguk


computing, Computing and ICT, ICT, key stage 1, key stage 2, KS1, ks2, Switched on Computing

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