This week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who leads on Science and Foundation subjects. Each half-term, Mr Wilks talks about the current whole-school topic – this time, it’s about Computing…
What do we mean by topics?
Topics are the vehicle for delivering much of the learning in the foundation subjects (eg history, art, geography, DT). Each half-termly topic has a ‘driving’ subject – the main focus for teaching pupils the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in life. The driver changes with each topic to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum.
Although the learning in each topic is provided by the driving subject, there are opportunities for enrichment through other subjects. For example, learning in an art topic may be enriched by geography learning about where an artist was born and lived.
Read more about the intent, implementation and impact of our topics.
What is this half-term’s topic?
This half-term, it’s Computing. Your child will develop their knowledge of computers and computer programming.
Computer programming is super. Creating games, animations and solving real world problems is fun, encourages creativity and is challenging! Importantly, the skills children will use and develop are transferable to other subjects and areas of life. For example, the concept of decomposition in programming is concerned with breaking down a large task into smaller chunks. This concept could be used when writing a story, solving a maths problem or tidying a particularly messy bedroom! Debugging is the skill of identifying and fixing an error in a program. It requires systematic, objective thinking and plenty of resilience.
Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic. See pages 15-18 of the curriculum statement document.
Years 1 and 2
Children are learning about how technology is used beyond school in our homes and all around us. They’re considering what a computer is and isn’t.
In programming lessons, they’re being introduced to algorithms and will learn about how they need to be written in the correct sequence.
They’re creating their own algorithms in ‘unplugged computing’ lessons and will debug errors in their own and others’ algorithms. Next, they’ll plan and create their own unplugged game where they have to create an algorithm to move a character from one place to another using positional language.
They’ll then use the same concepts using Beebots – simple robots which can be programmed to move and turn. Finally, it’ll be time to create their own game using Beebots.
Years 3 and 4
Children will reason about what exactly makes a computer a computer. Is a games console a computer? Is a TV a computer? Is a bedside lamp a computer? Next, they’ll learn about inputs and outputs and identify different examples of them in everyday technology.
It’s then time for programming. Like Key Stage 1, they begin with some ‘unplugged computing’. They’ll create and debug unplugged programs which use sequence and repetition before they then create their own unplugged game which will require some decomposition. Next, it’s time to program on a platform called Scratch Jr. It’s a free app available on most devices and will allow children to develop and refine their understanding and use of concepts like repetition and sequence. Finally, they’ll create their own game on Scratch Jr using all of the skills they’ve learned over the topic. They’ll to be creative to plan and design their own game, whether it’s a maze game or a simple platform game.
Years 5 and 6
As in Year 3 and 4, children begin the topic by reasoning about what makes a computer a computer. They’ll then learn about what a computer network is and that the Internet is an enormous computer network. In programming lessons, they’ll use Scratch to gain a deeper understanding of concepts like sequence and repetition before learning about selection and variables. Some of this vocabulary may sound alien to you. However, before the end of the topic, your child will be able to tell you what they mean and give examples of how they’ve used them in their projects. Some of the projects your child might make are:
- a Spirograph style drawing animation with some potentially psychedelic visual effects!
- a chatbot program which will ask you questions and decide if your responses are correct or not.
- a times table quiz program that will test you on randomly selected times table questions within a set time limit.
How can you help?
Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning in class. The class news page of the school website is a good place to go to find out more about what children are doing.
The school library and local libraries have lots of books about coding and computer games – your child will be able to borrow the books to develop both their reading skills and computing knowledge.
Finally, try programming with your child. There are loads of programming apps and software available to download, often for free…
Key Stage 1
- Daisy the Dinosaur (Apple only)
- Tynker Junior
Key Stage 2
- Scratch Jr