5 Ways to Support Computing in Primary Schools

When it comes to ICT academia, we’re being quickly overtaken by other countries. Computers are everywhere nowadays, but less than 2% of A-Level exams sat in 2016 were for Computing.

Aside from the obvious pastoral and safeguarding benefits of computing education and digital literacy, the world of work is a fast-changing landscape, and education needs to keep up with the needs of the modern workplace. To keep up with tech-savvy super-nations like India and China, we need to involve British children in computing from a primary school age to develop a genuine interest in the subject.

We’re already fighting back: the 2014 computing curriculum encourages young students to learn about algorithms, Boolean logic, and debugging, which are heavy concepts for a child to learn and understand. How can you be sure you’re setting your students up for the best possible future in a digital age? Luckily, there are a number of creative tools at our disposal to help children learn ICT skills. Here’s our list of the 5 most effective ways to support Computing education in primary schools:

Raspberry Pi

Photo of a raspberry pi
The Raspberry Pi 3 has around ten times the processing power of the Pi 1

The Raspberry Pi computer is about the size of a credit card, can be cheaper than making an actual raspberry pie, and it can perform a whole range of tasks; you can even transform it into a makeshift gaming console. It’s also an incredible educational tool, enabling children to gain hands-on experience with a computing chipset. The company behind the Pi also regularly post teaching ideas on their website.

If you feel like you’ve already exhausted its potential, there are ways to easily hack and augment your Raspberry Pi. For example, British startup Kano have developed an engaging open-source operating system that you can install for free on your Raspberry Pi systems, and have produced literature explaining projects and ideas your students can undertake with a Kano-powered Pi.

They also sell starter kits that empower children with hands-on learning; students learn how to build a computer system and write their own programs. This makes an excellent resource for after-school computing clubs.

Code Club
Speaking of which, if you aren’t already offering an after-school coding club, it’s time to consider it. Code Club have helped over 5,000 schools and educators set up free coding clubs by finding qualified volunteers, providing free projects, and supplying free training for staff.

These clubs are targeted towards year 5 and 6 students, and are a great way to kick-start their interest in and understanding of coding languages. Children are shown how to use HTML and CSS, Python, and Scratch.

Scratch is a programming language developed for primary and secondary school students.

It’s simpler to understand at face value than more complicated systems, such as Python or even HTML.

It provides a hands-on approach to programming and coding and helps students to visualise their code in real time. They can easily drag and drop components to build out logical processes, making it a great way to gain a deep understanding of key algorithmic concepts and the computing mindset.

If that last sentence confused you, don’t worry – Scratch is easy for educators to use and understand, and, most importantly, it’s fun. It enables students to bring their ideas to life.

If that still doesn’t sound engaging enough for you, CodeCombat has gamified programming education. Students control their character with one of several real-world coding languages, traversing dangerous dungeons, slaying powerful monsters, and finding epic loot. Since 2014, over 5,000,000 CodeCombat accounts have been made.

It’s easy to set up for schools – the system has been built around educators, with separate accounts for teachers and their students.

Learning to code and interact with computers is as complicated as learning a new language. You need constant revision and practise to get the best results.

One of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to help your students to learn for the future is to include all of the basic information they will need in their school planners. Students always have their planners to hand, so you can be sure that any resources you include will be there when they need it. Pack them full of cheat sheets and lesson resources that support your school curriculum, and your planners can be transformed into the definitive reference guide for every subject.

To help you build the ultimate student planner, we’ve released new student planner page ideas for primary schools that support the statutory requirements of the National Curriculum. You can click here to find out more about the Computing pack and to read how these page ideas support National Curriculum guidelines.

Primary Planner Inside Spread Computing