Teach binary at primary? Surely not…

I did not think that I would ever find myself suggesting that teaching binary in primary schools could be a good idea. Then I came across a freely available e-book, Computer Science Unplugged, which includes some excellent activities. I especially liked the binary cards where you can start exploring this amazing number system without ever mentioning the “b” word. It is a very short step from making (decimal) numbers up by adding numbers of dots together, to writing them in their binary form. But if that is a step too far, then you can still use the cards to explore various number patterns that are important in computing. For a short TES blog article and links to relevant resources, see www.bit.ly/1tUSIit.

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Skills, characteristics and staying safe

E-safety education needs to be proactive rather than simply reactive and given the rate of change of technologies and services and with the steady drip feed of new crazes and avenues for children and young people to put themselves at risk, we cannot get away with just teaching about specific known hazards. I decided to try and compile a list or a mapping of personal & social skills that contribute towards e-safety, having been struck by the extent to which initiatives like SEAL (social and emotional aspects of learning) and PHSE are often dealing with things that lie at the heart making someone truly e-safe. It includes some links to associated resources and I hope it will prove a useful reference and communication tool. You can view and download a copy of the document, which has been released under a Creative Commons licence, at the Education Vision website.

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Name change from ICT to Computing

Although the rest of the curriculum consultation process is still being worked through, the Government has decided to go ahead with changing the name in the National Curriculum from ICT to Computing. They have now issued a consultation document for this aspect only and will move ahead with the temporary disapplication of much of the National Curriculum to allow schools to start introducing new aspects to what they teach.

Personally, I am disappointed at the prospect of another name change in this subject area, which is only likely to further distance and confuse parents, carers and members of the public. The key fight however, remains with the detail of the new National Curriculum (currently in draft form), to ensure that we end up with high quality, fit for purpose programmes of study. Computing could end up being a huge step forward or a giant leap backwards, although it is perhaps most likely to be a bit of a muddle that professionals on the ground will need to take control of and sort out. And whatever happens with the curriculum, it won’t address the issue of the available pool of specialist teachers to teach the subject and in the short term it can only make this problem worse.

However, change always brings new opportunities and it is these that I am looking forward to!

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ICT National Curriculum consultation (UK)

If you want to let the Government know your views on the proposed changes to the ICT curriculum, including the change of name to Computing, you have until the 16 April 2013 to respond. The draft programme of study and the response form can be downloaded from the DfE website.

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