Computing CPD in the real world

Do your staff understand how the internet is different to the world wide web? Do they have an understanding of HTML? Do they really know what an algorithm is?

The answer to these questions is probably mixed, depending on how far down the road you are.  But wherever you are on your journey with using Switched On Computing, or any other scheme of work, you will need to make sure that your teaching staff transfer the information in a motivating, interesting and accurate way. 

The biggest barrier to this? Staff training. 

Step one – Understand it yourself.

Whether you have a deep rooted joy for all things technological and have a PhD in Computer Science or you were just the last teacher to be given a subject to co-ordinate and it was a choice between Computing or MFL, you need to do your homework. The staff in the school – no matter your level of competence in computing – now see you as the expert! 

The DFE and Microsoft supported a project run by Computing At School and have provided an excellent handbook which includes, pretty much, everything you need to know about Primary Computing. This will become your ‘how-to’ and reference guide.

Step two – Deliver the fundamentals.

Standing up at a staff meeting can be scary. The sweaty palms. You have checked your Powerpoint seven times but check it again, just in case. And what about the colleague who always asks the difficult question… Don’t panic…. 

The most important thing here is to share with staff the headlines and how the skills will build up over time – don’t get bogged down with the specifics of how scratch works. 

If you don’t have your own skills continuum then I would suggest using the Switched:On digital badges to set your key skills. For us, in Key Stage 2 there are 7 key skills: Problem Solving, Programming, Logical Thinking, Communicating, Searching, Creating Content and E-safety. Each key skill is broken down into smaller steps and progress across our year groups. 

Step three – Work with year teams.

There is little point in your KS1 team sitting through a training session on HTML or App development (these come later), so think about the areas that need you to specifically deliver something. It is generally going to be the Computer Science units that require the most support –use video sites like YouTube for Scratch walk throughs - because people love to share and show you how to use a piece of software or type of code. Playto is an amazing introduction to HTML and how this is used to code webpages. Give people time in meetings to go through these and have a go at creating the projects.

Step four – Practice, practice, practice.

We all know that we don’t really have the time, probably because we are too busy marking or figuring out what mastery really is. But the best way to really understand the topic you are teaching is to work through a lesson/concept yourself. 

The material developed by CodeClub is great as there are step by step booklets for using scratch, HTML, CSS and even Python (not the snake) if you are feeling super brave. 

My top tip with the very un-confident teacher? Tell them that they can use the videos (or booklets) to support their lessons. If they helped the teacher learn, then chances are that they will help the pupil learn too.

How can Switched On Computing help?

Switched on Computing has loads of great features that can assist with your CPD and that of your staff. Firstly the teacher guides have great ideas throughout them and are written in an easy to follow step-by-step format. Most units have a range of videos and examples of outcomes so that staff know what they are aiming for. There is also a range of excellent ‘Learn to code’ books which provide great work through examples that directly teach the skills the children (and staff) need to ensure that they can access the rest of the Computing curriculum.

Recap

  1. 1. Do your homework – make sure you are one step ahead.

  2. 2. Set out your progression – how do children’s skills develop over time.

  3. 3. Provide time for year teams/ teachers to play in a supportive environment.

  4. 4. Use guidebooks and work-throughs to practice.


Ben Cornford
Thomas A Becket Junior School

Tags

computing, Computing and ICT, cpd, on, switched, Switched on Computing

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