After the Reboot: computing Education in Schools

The Royal Society has recently published a review of  UK Computing Education as a milestone since the introduction of a new curriculum three years ago. the Society wanted to see how the new curriculum has impacted in schools from KS1 to KS5.

The change to the curriculum involves a shift from the previous strategy which focused a great deal on presenting information and data to a curriculum that brings the emphasis onto coding.

I was interested in this review because, as a leader of Technology use for more than 25 years, I’ve seen a number of shifts in emphasis and have been involved in using the new strategy since it began.

The report raises concerns that, while the shift is a good strategy, the investment and confidence in schools has not been adequate to ensure the new curriculum is working well yet.

It recognizes that to introduce a brand new curriculum in this way is significant but that if it is done with little mainstream support and infrastructure then it may leave teachers under prepared.

There are a number of voluntary organisations and tools that have been positive including CAS (Computing At School) and Barefoot Computing being two good examples but the support in school has varied.

As part of the report the teacher surveys did not give much reassurance about the way teachers are feeling.

Teacher confidence at different stages of the curriculum

32% of primary teachers feel more confident teaching the earlier stages of the curriculum than the latter.

44% of secondary teachers feel more

confident teaching the earlier stages of the curriculum than the latter.

Source: Pye Tait. 2017.

After the Reboot: The State

of Computing Education in

UK Schools and Colleges.

the survey covered around 600 primary school teachers. I was immediately drawn to this quote and curious about who was included in the survey. As a primary school teacher myself I am focused on computing. some primary schools have a specific computing lead but many rely on generalists to include computing in their many roles. The report states that:

Despite efforts to obtain an unbiased view, due to the self-selecting nature of a survey, a significant number of the responses were from teachers who hold a degree-level qualification in a STEM subject or ICT (62%). Respondents were also broken down into those that had undertaken computing-related CPD in 2015 – 2016 with Computing At School, which made up 17% of those respondents (see Box 7). Other data sources suggest that a lower proportion of computing teachers have a related qualification. We therefore caution the reader that our survey data is unavoidably vulnerable to selection bias, and may represent an overoptimistic view of the true situation.

Department for Education. 2017. School workforce in England: November 2016. See

government/statistics/school-workforce-in-england-november-2016 (accessed 22 September 2017).

So its not a great reflection of the primary teacher that has responsibility for this alongside all the other curriculum areas they teach. In that instance, this, more competent group only has a third who are confident with the early stages of the new curriculum.

The report indicates that

Teacher confidence

As part of the survey we asked teachers to rate their confidence at each stage of the curriculum on a 10-point scale, with 1 being the least confident and 10 being the most confident. 48% of the surveyed teachers gave a score below 7 and were asked to provide explanations for the low confidence scores.

A common response from these teachers was that they were lacking sufficient theoretical and technical knowledge of computing that included aspects of programming and coding.

When comparing confidence ratings at different stages of the curriculum, perhaps unsurprisingly it is evident that teachers are more confident with the earlier stages than

with the later stages where the subject can have a greater focus on computer science.

This was further demonstrated when we asked teachers for their confidence in delivering

specific aspects of computing education.

Many indicated that they were most confident with the elements of the curriculum that were inherited from the previous ICT courses, for

example using technology safely, responsibly and securely, and creating digital content for

a given audience.

Pye Tait. 2017. After the Reboot: The State of Computing Education in UK Schools and Colleges. pp34–35.

teachers feel more secure in areas that were part of the ICT syllabus and the new elements are more challenging. I know what that feels like. I also work with colleagues that echo that feeling. I am also conscious that teachers often have to work with what they already know. If our own education includes something then we have a point of reference. However computing education in my own experience and that of many colleagues of various ages is more frequently absent than present.

How can we raise those confidence scores above 7?

The report gives a number of recommendations that I will come to in a later post.


The other area that I was interested in was related to Gender. The news at the moment has many gender awareness topics from the ‘pink girls clothing debate’ to ‘pay-gaps’ and ‘harassment’. But the disparity in tech doesn’t get as much attention. Too few girls are taking Computing as a subject amidst declining overall totals.

As a primary specialist, I am convinced this could be tackled by nurturing gender neutral attitudes to tech skill as early as possible. A recent BBC TV series on gender behaviour (No more boys and girls) have indicated that the apparent tendency for boys to be better at football and construction is something related to exposure rather than competence. So if girls do these things they can easily become expert.

I know the same is true about technology. Yet at a recent parents evening where up to 100 parents could choose to come and see me, of the 16 appointments I had,  only three were with parents of girls. A little over 10%.

Whilst generalising,  male parents more commonly thrived in a tech conversation while, more commonly, female parents use caveat language like ‘I’m not really good at technology’. It was not a scientific study but it stood out to me.

I am also very aware that in our computing lessons there are strong male and female students in KS2. There is a good balance at the top. Te report indicates that this isn’t reflected in the GCSE sign up or selection choice. Even though technology and computing provision in my own school is good at primary level, older female students are not signing up in large numbers either.

I’ve signed up for a Future Learn course this week. It’s called teaching computing. The two teachers who we have seen in the course so far sharing their teaching are men. Yet in many primary schools male teachers are in the minority. The Post Grad I am doing now has 8 students but it’s 75% female. As you can see the messages about gender are very mixed indeed.


The Most Open of Classrooms

Learning from colleague reflections is such a privilege. Thanks Ron

Thinking makes it so

I’m grateful to be teaching in a school that is constantly nudging me forward. There are so many exciting changes on the British School in the Netherland’s horizon. Matt Bennett’s blog looks at our most recent shift with technology (, electronic reporting should come to fruition soon enough and we all seem to be making the most of the Twittersphere. The thing that I’m most excited about is the new teaching space that we will have at our school’s hub: BSN Connect. You can read about that development at . It will seek to unite our multi-campus school and challenge us to use space in new ways.

If there weren’t so many of these developments to push me forward, my lazy inclination would be to just coast. I don’t necessarily embrace all change but I’m quite enthusiastic about it and keen to give most things a go…

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Bringing people Together 

The end of the school year always brings time for reflecting. Trying to recognize all the things we’ve achieved. Good and bad, hard and easy, People and tasks, sad and joyous, highs and lows…..

This year has been another of change for me. I’ve worked in two places for the best part of it. 

I’m regularly asked what that’s like. 

I often wonder what people will want my reaction to be. In both places I’m overwhelmed by the same thing. Dedicated teachers and staff working tirelessly to bring a positive learning experience to those in their charge. 


During this year I’ve started to reflect on some tremendous highlights. There’s been a strong tech focus (of course!)

I’m a tech advocate but I lean heavily towards experiences over things and one of those key threads stands out. 

Tech brings people together. 

Let me say that again. Tech brings people together. So often maligned for the fake lifestyles of social media while people phone obsess instead of conversing. Where people text instead of looking at each other. Where people selfie instead of seeing the view. 

This year I’ve seen high school colleagues share their experiences with learners. I’ve taken their wisdom and shared it myself. Then I’ve seen others take it from me and give it a go. 

You know they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, well I can safely say that seeing someone try a technique or a tool in their teaching is an empowering thing.

Two hundred year six students collaborating and learning about peer marking simultaneously in three buildings while consulting another cohort to answer a quiz was probably the biggest risk we took. 

It wasn’t a tech risk it was a human one but people believed in the event. Hearing Eurovision style, cross campus cheering as the results of the event came through was big and memorable. Being told by a student that ‘Canvas day was great’ at the airport that evening really brought home to me what tech can do. 

The whole thing is about people and learning opportunities and tech tools playing a subtle part.

3D Printing 

Parent visitors touring our building were amazed to see a 3D printer purring away in our teaching room. But more impressive were the nine year olds who explained clearly that they’d created a city and  considered the importance of transport and access to the buildings in zone 1.


When Year 5 pupils used Khan Academy to explore JavaScript animation tools they were boosted by a visit from the Senior School head of Computing. He shared example from his Year 9 classes. The students aspirations were raised. 

I’m definately doing computing in Senior School!


The micro blogging platform has had a mixed press but it’s been the best tool for keeping track of all our experiences. No where is it clearer that we’ve pa led a tremendous amount in than here. Many times I’ve lost track but twitter brings it all flooding back. 


It’s often the case that tech stays in side and that is wise on many occasions. But when a student takes their iPad on an activity they get a different experience. The opportunity to capture ideas and voice and motion changes the output dramatically. 

The list is long. Stop motion animation, illustrated games, art vocabulary, all of these have been interesting outside. 

People came together. They brought the tech and there were transformational experiences that were truly memorable.


Roll on next year then. 

What tech experiences have brought people together for you this year?

What are you looking forward to trying next year? 

What has Ed Tech ever done for me? Well apart from help my work life balance……

Good tech should be about the PE Teacher, the individual, the less tech person- everyone utilizing the tools that make life easier. Post from a colleague about tech and flexibility. 


This week saw SSV take a big step towards achieving it’s new Ed Tech strategy with staff receiving their new Microsoft Surface Pro devices. The rationale for this vision has been outlined clearly by Kieran Early (CEO and Principal of The British School in the Netherlands) here and how this strategy will enable our school to improve the outcomes of our students. Having spent the last month trialling the new device, I have been surprised that the area I have seen perhaps the biggest impact in is my ‘mobility’ and how the strategy, coupled with the new device is improving my work life balance.

ed tech

Maintaining a healthy work life balance is a commonly discussed issue in the teaching profession and it’s no surprise why. As teachers we don’t need reminding of the state of workload in the profession. If you do need reminding, you probably aren’t a teacher, and if you are…

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What difference has a focus on wellbeing made?

Considering well being when making strategic decisions benefits staff and students. I was inspired by this post.


This year we have put the wellbeing of staff and children at the centre of our School Improvement Plan. In this short blog post I’ll be talking about our staff wellbeing work.

screen-shot-2016-08-29-at-15-31-53Some of the actions we have taken to improve staff wellbeing this year include:

  • More consultation about changes to the way we do things
  • Changes to PPA time to give you more time working as a year team
  • Allocated time in PDMs to carry out admin tasks and keep working environments looking good
  • Saying ‘thank you’ publically, for example on the Shout Out board
  • Leaders taking account of wellbeing before asking you to do anything
  • Adding wellbeing advice to staff notes
  • Restricting ‘all staff’ emails to mainly staff notes
  • Wellbeing time allocated the latest non-pupil day
  • Changed the marking policy to reduce time spent marking
  • Been very public about the importance of wellbeing
  • EH4MH training and consultation time

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Thank you Facebook for starting my day with a bang! #IWD2017 it is!

International Women’s day. A day of reflection. A day to challenge and reflect. An opportunity to reflect on the many facets of equality, attitude and access which women encounter every day. Taking that time makes it a significant day for men and women.

I was greeted this morning by fireworks on Facebook; ‘huzzah’ it’s international women’s day it loudly declared.


A little much for a pre-coffee greeting I thought at first and then, over my oats, I began to ponder. Is this really a day of celebration? If so, what exactly is it that we are celebrating?  Women, progress, achievement?

As I reached for my coffee, whilst simultaneously packing lunches, checking emails, navigating the art of the preferred ponytail angle and having a battle with Ruby, the PlayMobil pirate who is the defender of gold, it suddenly seemed extraordinary to me that we would dedicate one day of the year to 3.52 billion people (just under half of the world’s population) which feels slightly at odds with the scale of this group. The more I think about it, the more peculiar it seems.

I think the seeds of my wondering had be sown…

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The computing curriculum buzz word is Algorithm

It’s something that needs to be incorporated in our computing teaching for children from four years old. 

Not in a big way but there, getting a mention. 


computing curriculum


A funky opera singer, a U.S. Almost Vice President who got into soul (Al Gor(e) rhythm)?

It’s a curious word.  

It’s actually just a fancy way of saying ‘instruction or processes’

I like to think instructions or processes with an outcome. 

So a cupcake recipe (when did we stop calling them buns?) has an outcome=cupcakes. 




Simple really.