Evaluating your computing provision

With more than 700 schools now using the new Computing Quality Framework, Victoria Temple talks to some of the pioneering schools about their success in technology

More than 700 primary and secondary schools are now taking part in the Computing Quality Framework, a new free online tool designed to help schools evaluate their computing provision.
It’s also playing a vital role in boosting teachers’ confidence and subject knowledge in the newest subject to be added to the curriculum, explained the experts behind the new programme.
The Computing Quality Framework (CQF) has been developed by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) to consolidate excellent standards in computing across primary and secondary schools in England.
Following its pilot phase in the autumn, hundreds of schools have signed up to the CQF and the first ten have now achieved the Computing Quality Mark, recognising their success.
“Being one of the first ten schools in the country to be awarded the Computing Quality Mark has been one of the highlights of the year,” said Simon Roberts, Curriculum Leader for Computing at Carmel College in Darlington.
“We, as a school, have done a lot to promote computing within our school and to a wider audience across our local region and we have thought, how do we recognise that? The CQF has enabled us to achieve that validation,” he said.

Addressing challenges

The need for a straightforward evaluation framework for computing in schools was clear.       

“Computing is a relatively new curriculum subject and not every pupil is taught by a specialist teacher,” explained Claire Garside, senior lead facilitator at the NCCE.
“Those new to computing can lack confidence in their own subject knowledge, and existing computing teachers may feel isolated as the only specialist teacher, so the CQF is helping to address those challenges,” she said.
Claire, a former teacher with 20 years’ experience and now also a researcher at Leeds University, is based at the NCCE Computing Hubs in Yorkshire and has been working with schools across Yorkshire, the Humber region, and parts of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire.
“We have been supporting teachers, leadership teams and directors of computing across MATs with the early adoption of the CQF.
“It was apparent from the outset that all schools would benefit from the self-review tool. Established departments could evidence brilliant computing by linking to their current practice and policies, thus mindful of teachers’ workload, and schools embarking on a new phase with computing can benefit from the framework’s approach to strategic planning.

“It was great to see some of these schools in our region among the first 10 schools nationally to gain the Computing Quality Mark.”

Sharing experiences

Schools are now also sharing their experiences with the CQF and computing expertise with others to raise standards.
“We’ve brought together local networks of computing teachers and this close collaboration, with a focus on using the structure of the CQF, has led to several computing initiatives. We have seen schools working together to develop computing strategies related to literacy, SEND, diversity and careers, and bringing in new opportunities for the computing curriculum from organisations such as STEM Ambassadors,” said Claire.
Saffron Waldon County High School in Essex is also one of the ‘first ten’ schools to achieve the Computing Quality Mark. Janet Symonds, Head of Computing at the school, said the CQF had helped to boost awareness of computing across the school community.
“Over the past 10 years our department has improved and grown, to engage a wide range of pupils. The CQF has encouraged us to have more interaction with the governor’s so that they are more aware of all the work that is being done within the department and they are able to better support us in ventures when they are well-informed,” she said.

Computing hubs

The NCCE, funded by the Department for Education and supporting partners, has engaged with 34,000 teachers from more than 19,000 schools since its establishment in 2018. It delivers training and has created the Teach Computing curriculum, with more than half-a-million lesson downloads. Now it has added the CQF to its provision, a free, online framework to develop computing education.
The NCCE’s network of Computing Hubs, based at 34 schools across England, offer support to schools to help them complete the CQF pathways.
Sophie Fenn, computer science teacher at Pate’s Grammar School in Gloucestershire and also lead at an NCCE Computing Hub, said:
“Engaging with the CQF has allowed our department to review our aims holistically, considering each aspect of the work we are doing from a fresh perspective. Working through each of the strands in the CQF we have created measurable, focused plans.
“As an NCCE hub, we are looking forward to supporting other schools in working towards their Computing Quality Mark and seeing the inspiring things others are doing and aspiring to do.”
Sophie is not alone in welcoming the CQF as a tool for schools to ensure their computing education is up-to-date, vibrant, and creative.

“The first schools to attain the ‘Computing Quality Mark’ have led the way to deliver higher standards in computing education, but we know many more schools also have brilliant computing education and NCCE teams are working closely to support them,” said Claire Garside.