Leading primary computing: getting colleagues started

02 November 2021

Whether you’re brimming with ideas of how to lead primary computing or new in post and not knowing where to start, we can help you support colleagues and ensure computing is taught effectively in your school.

Finding out where you are now is one of the most important things to do as a new leader - after all, this is what we do when we start a new topic with our children. Exploring the starting points of other teachers helps ensure as a subject leader that you are supporting colleagues appropriately.

You may have some very confident teachers who run code clubs or projects using physical computing - while others in your department may not be as confident or as interested in computing and need help to deliver the essentials of the computing curriculum.

Let’s face it, as primary teachers, we are not generally computing experts, and the thought of learning something new and unknown can be unnerving for early career and experienced teachers alike. If you have colleagues who want to feel more confident in teaching computing, we have some new short courses that could tick that box.

Getting started courses

Aimed at each year group, our Getting Started courses provide a quick and easy way to upskill teachers. Designed to guide teachers through the curriculum requirements for their year group using the freely available Teach Computing Curriculum, they provide an overview of the topics and skills taught within the year group. They allow teachers time to have a go at some of the activities they will teach in class and discuss the practicalities of running them.

Here are some snippets of the different courses so that you can get a preview of what is in store for each year group and how it may be of use in other parts of the curriculum.

Getting started in Year 1 explores how to teach children about the technology around them, including digital painting and writing, grouping data, programming a robot, and creating simple animations. You will learn to teach children the basic commands of programming a robot to move across the floor, including how you can do this even if you don’t have Beebots or similar devices within your school.

Getting started in Year 2 looks at teaching children about digital photography, creating and using pictograms to represent data, using software to make music, and creating quizzes in Scratch Junior. In the sessions which look at information technology, children explore IT in everyday day life, e.g. digital cameras, iPads, traffic lights and cash machines, and think about how IT helps us and how we use it in our lives.

Getting Started in Year 3 involves learning about digital devices and networks and how they work at a level appropriate for primary children. The sessions on branching databases use examples of freely available software and also highlights how science or maths contexts can maximise learning across the curriculum. Other areas of the computing curriculum covered in this course are learning how to create animation in Scratch, desktop publishing and programming looking at the sequence of an algorithm and its importance to carrying out instructions.

Getting started in Year 4 looks at the Internet and how it works on a basic level, photo editing and using software to edit audio recordings. Once you’ve learned how to teach this, it brings in a whole range of opportunities for creating radio reports or podcasts across the curriculum. Be it a report on improving the school environment or an interview with a Viking invader the possibilities are endless. Other topics covered are repetition in programming (creating shapes) and data logging, which links perfectly with science and provides skills children can use throughout primary and beyond.

Getting started in Y5 will help you explore how information is transferred between systems and devices, using a database to store and retrieve information, creating media by exploring vector drawing. In programming, pupils will be learning about selection in scratch, enabling them to design and make quizzes. The quiz can link with whichever topic you’re learning about, making it a way of refreshing knowledge in science, history, geography etc.

Getting started in Year 6 covers finding out about the World Wide Web as a communication tool, supporting children in creating web content, using spreadsheets, using variables in programming to create simple games, and looking at 3D Modelling. There’s also a unit on physical computing, which uses the micro bit to create your own step counter. These devices are available to lend from our Computing Hubs.

Primary leadership is about many things, but we hope that these short year group courses will help you support colleagues to teach computing effectively within their classes. They also provide a stepping stone for any teacher who feels they may wish to take their computing teaching forward in years to come.

About the author

Rachel Jackson, Primary Specialist, STEM Learning