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In September 2013, the UK National Curriculum was altered to replace Information Communication Technology (ICT) with a more up-to-date Computing curriculum, intended to help pupils from key stage 1 onwards to get to grips with the fundamental concepts of computer science, digital literacy, coding and creating their own programs.

According to the Department of Education, the national curriculum for computing aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • Can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science.
  • Can analyse problems in computational terms, and have practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems.
  • Can evaluate and apply information technology – including new or unfamiliar technologies – analytically to solve problems.
  • Become responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.

Benefits of computing in schools

In an increasingly technology-driven society, providing children with a solid foundation in coding and digital literacy has many benefits. Not only can it prepare them for many future career paths, it also helps children to be more articulate and logical, promoting problem solving and analytical thinking.

Studies have also shown that computing can also help develop skills in other fundamental areas, such as literacy and numeracy. For example, the popular programming language Scratch has been used by children to create animations for creative writing exercises, while studying algorithms can also aid the understanding of sentence structure.

Learning Structure

According to the National Curriculum, pupils should be taught the following:

Key Stage 1 (Ages 5-7)

  • Understanding what algorithms are and how they are implemented as programs on digital devices.
  • How to create and debug simple programs.
  • Using logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs.
  • Using technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content.
  • Recognising common uses of information technology in society.
  • Using technology safely and respectfully, protecting personal information, identifying where to go for help and support when concerned about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies.

Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-11)

  • How to design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems.
  • Solving problems by breaking down larger tasks into smaller parts.
  • Using sequence, selection and repetition in programs, working with variables and various forms of input and output.
  • Use of logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors.
  • Understanding computer networks – including the internet – how they can provide multiple services – such as the World Wide Web – and the opportunities they offer for communication and collaboration.
  • Using search technologies effectively, how results are selected and ranked and understanding how to be discerning in evaluating digital content.
  • How to select, use and combine a variety of software – including internet services – on a range of digital devices to design and create a range of programs, systems and content that accomplish set goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information.
  • How to use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly. How to recognise acceptable/unacceptable behaviour and report concerns about content and contact.

Key Stage 3 (Ages 11-14)

  • How to design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems.
  • Understanding key algorithms that reflect computational thinking and using logical reasoning to compare the use of alternative algorithms to a single problem.
  • How to use two or more programming languages - at least one of which should be textual – to solve a variety of computational problems.
  • Understanding Boolean logic (for example AND, OR and NOT) and some of its sues in circuits and programming.
  • Understanding how numbers can be represented in binary, and how to carry out simple operations on binary numbers (e.g. binary addition or conversion between binary and decimal)
  • Understanding the hardware and software components that make up computer systems and how they communicate with one another and with other systems.
  • How instructions are stored and executed within a computer system.
  • How various forms of data (including text, sounds and pictures) can be represented and manipulated digitally in the form of binary digits.
  • Undertaking creative projects that involve selecting, using and combining multiple applications across a range of devices to achieve challenging goals such as collecting and analysing data and meeting the needs of known users.
  • Creating, re-using, revising and repurposing digital artefacts for a given audience, with attention to trustworthiness, design and usability.
  • Understanding how to use technology safely respectfully, responsibly and securely – including protection of online identity and privacy, recognising inappropriate content, contact and conduct and reporting concerns.

Key Stage 4 (Ages 14-16)

  • Developing capability, creativity and knowledge in computer science, digital media and information technology.
  • Application of analytic, problem solving, design and computational thinking skills.
  • Understanding how changes in technology can affect safety, including ways to protect online privacy and identity, and how to report a range of concerns.

How Farnell supports coding on the national curriculum

Supporting the next generation of engineers and innovators is a high priority at Farnell. We work closely with a number of educational institutions and facilities to provide hardware, learning tools and partnership opportunities for all levels of education from primary to tertiary.

To discuss potential partnership opportunities between your school/department and Farnell, fill in our contact form and a member of our team will get back to you at the earliest opportunity.