CPD experience: An interview with Richard Berryman

18 May 2023

We spoke with Richard to learn more about his experience with the Primary Certificate and using the NCCE resources within the classroom. Richard is based in the Isle of Wight and is the Computing Lead for his primary school as well as a CAS lead.

His school leads an interesting delivery method (similar to a secondary school) where teachers are subject specialists covering multiple years. Therefore, it was great to speak to Richard about his experience using the NCCE resources and CPD as he teachers year 2 through to year 6.

Which CPD did you participate in and how useful did you find the primary certificate?

I completed some of the online and face to face training and I found it really useful. The online training was great because I could complete it in an evening at my own pace and practice some coding or use Scratch, which I hadn’t really had the time to do before! Plus, it gave me an understanding of what was needed as I was doing the things I was expecting the children to be able to do.

Plus, I liked the approach with the CPD of breaking it down into concepts to understand as it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have got to teach coding which is huge which would be like saying “I’ve got to teach English so we’re doing writing today”. Learning the different purpose or techniques within computing to take back to the classroom has been helpful for improving pupils understanding.

What impact do you think this had on other staff and your pupils?

Having all the training and resources on offer has enabled me to gain a good understanding of different concepts, and the skills that children need to build on to become better computer scientists. Furthermore, it has helped me develop our progression map for the school so I can show what we are learning and the development. This has been useful within our school setting using the specialist model, as I can speak to the other teachers and say what we have done so that they can then build into their lessons. For example, in computing we may have covered data work so in geography you could look at creating graphs.

I think the certificate helped signpost valuable resources for teaching computing including different software which is quite often free or low cost. I think it's great that through the computing hubs you're able to borrow the physical computing devices as I like pupils to have a go using the crumbles and micro:bits. This helps them get hands on with computing and build those further stem skills too. Plus, being able to do that has really enabled my support of my pupils with SEND. Equally, through the CPD and expanding my subject knowledge, I am better able to challenge learners as well. I know where the next step is and can push children who have got a real appetite for it to that point.

Would you recommend the NCCE CPD to others?

I have been! I've promoted and hosted some of the courses!

Unfortunately, computing has got a bit of reputation as being the last subject to be handed out, and people not wanting the position of computing lead. I feel sad for those who are in that position, and it’s about helping them become the best that they can be, and see computing isn’t this difficult topic that needs to be taught and that it can be fun! The NCCE CPD is great for helping in this situation as it’s so varied in what it offers, covering different topics including specific challenging areas, and is suitable for all levels to help improve confidence. Plus, the courses I have been on have all been led by people who have such a passion for computing who want to share best practice and offer their unique insights into computing including resources they have made. I feel that the courses are a useful place to collaborate with people who love the subject!

Why is it importance to have high quality computing teaching skills?

I feel like computer science is its own discrete subject and it becomes slightly different every year. This makes it a unique subject to teach because you're always trying to keep up to date with the new skills needed.

Plus, you can use the computer as a tool to learn something but also to develop learning in another subject. Due to us having specialist teachers for every subject, pupils have a discrete computing term, but also a computing term where it's embedded into another subject. For example, I have taught stop motion and how to create one and suggested this be used to demonstrate learning in history or geography to create the cross-curricular use of computing skills. This helps embed the skills and their learning in what I hope will be a useful way as the children go through school and as they get older, as they have built their confidence around using computing in different ways.

What is the importance of that teaching on young people?

It's all about digital futures. We are living in an increasingly digital, online world and we need to prepare pupils for that. I want young people to become not just consumers of computing, but also creators so they know how the computer works and how they can use it to make something themselves. In doing this, they will be able to improve their understanding as computing and technology is improving and changing all the time, but also their own prospects given the number of careers in the future that will revolve around computing that don’t even exist yet!

Also, having the computing teaching skills helps children feel confident doing this whilst in an environment that keeps them safe where you can explain the ways to maintain online safety.

If you are interested in learning more about our Primary Certificate, you can find all the details you need on the primary certificate webpage.