How's your computing provision?

Digital skills are increasingly important for young people’s future, but how do schools know that their provision is meeting the evolving demands of the 21st century? Victoria Temple from the National Centre for Computing Education explains how

Computing skills provide exciting career opportunities, but schools may not always know if they are on the right track to deliver outstanding computing education.

The National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) is helping schools to develop their computing with its new evaluation tool, the Computing Quality Framework (CQF).

The CQF is its new free online tool which helps schools to review their computing provision, access free support and resources, and celebrate success.
It’s been created by the NCCE’s computing education experts and is backed up by support delivered through its network of 34 Computing Hubs based at schools across England.
Claire Garside, senior lead facilitator at the NCCE, explains more: “The CQF gives schools the strategic oversight to ensure all their students receive computing skills and knowledge they need for the future,” she said.

“We have a supportive team available and easy-to-follow resources. We’re thrilled to be supporting schools to provide top-quality computing education and also to recognise and celebrate their success.”
A school’s progress through the CQF, via self-assessment and tracked with automated reports, helps busy teachers to save time, and schools can access support for the CQF from its network of Computing Hubs, based at schools across England. The team at the Hubs can also help schools to identify what support they need to deliver innovative computing provision – as well as to access the right training and resources from the NCCE.
The CQF is not just about a school’s computing provision. There are opportunities to involve the whole school and look at digital skills and education across subject areas.

Computing accessible to all

Excellence is recognised with the award of a school Computing Quality Mark. At the Vale Academy in Brigg, North Lincolnshire, computing is a thriving subject, which has now been recognised with an NCCE Computing Quality Mark.

Computer science teacher Damian Burrin explained how their approach to computing achieves success across the school.
“We offer Computer Science to all students irrespective of ability and promote it as a subject open to all,” said Damian.
“We try hard to debunk the myth that it’s a ‘hard subject’ and we support students of lower ability to achieve. Success in Computer Science is more about passion from students and teachers and a willingness to keep trying rather than a student’s starting point or ability levels.
“We try to ensure that we apply no gender bias to our lessons, content and delivery style and normally have a good gender split at GCSE with the current Y10 close to 50/50.”
The school offers hour-long Computer Science lessons at KS3 focussing on Computing Skills, IT and E-safety and makes use of the iDEA digital award in Y7 and Y8 to encourage skills development outside of school.
“At KS4 we don’t insist the students have completed CS at GCSE to complete the A-Level course and work with the students to help them make the most appropriate choices to reach their end goals.”
As a school, they’ve now been able to evidence that success by being one of the first to take part in the CQF.
It has helped them to identify areas which needed further development, evidence the need for new resources or changes needed to the curriculum.  
“The CQF is a great initiative. Other subjects have a subject mark to show they deliver a high-quality curriculum. I know we deliver a good curriculum that supports our local needs and enables students to achieve at the highest standard,” said Damian.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to have this recognised and hopefully it will encourage more students to complete a Computing based qualification. It also gave us the opportunity to self-evaluate, take stock of what we do and how we do it and adjust our approaches to ensure they remain valid and relevant.”

Keeping computing up-to-date

At The Chase School in Malvern, computing and digital skills are also a priority.
Teacher John Palmer is computing lead at The Chase, Malvern, one of the first schools to receive a Computing Quality Mark.

“Malvern has sometimes been referred to as “Space Mountain”, due to the number of local companies such as QinetiQ, so provision in Computing and Technology is an area of interest for our parents, and one of our school’s unique selling points,” explained John.
“A high-quality computing education is vital for our students – being able to use computational thinking and creativity will allow them to understand and change the world for the better.
“The CQF has allowed us to gain vital external validation of our computing provision, so that we know it aligns to latest best practice. Nothing stays still for long in computing and education,“ he said.
“We have large numbers of young people taking computing at GCSE and A level, including many girls. The key to that success is the effort we put into making the KS3 computing curriculum interesting and relevant and we use the NCCE’s Teach Computing Curriculum in our KS3 provision.
“Review and self-evaluation is a vital part of my role. Going through the CQF in detail gave me confidence that if Ofsted undertakes a computing “Deep Dive”, we’re able to demonstrate our strong computing provision.”
The Chase school at Malvern is also home to the NCCE Computing Hub offering support to schools across the West Midlands.
“We’re working with schools across the area to adopt the CQF and review and extend their computing provision,” said John.
“As a first step, schools should visit and contact their local NCCE Computing Hub to find out more about what’s on offer.”

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