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New UK Computer Science curriculum outlined

by Rob Zwetsloot

Computer Science has been absent from UK schools for a while, and the government has another proposal to re-introduce it

Schools in the UK have not been doing a great job teaching computing skills to kids for the past ten or so years. It’s bee a long time since kids would pick up BASIC on a BBC Micro, before setting up game studios in their garage. The highest form of formal education in UK schools consists of the ICT GCSE – a glorified qualification in using Microsoft Office.

There’s been a recent movement in recent years to “fix” this in UK schools, with some government backing as well. As a result, another set of guidelines for teaching computer science in schools has been drawn-up, starting with the most basic of programming skills for 5-7 year olds. Here’s the full curriculum as it currently stands, it has a lot of interesting and very useful aspects to it:

Key Stage 1 (Ages 5-7)

Pupils should be taught to:

Understand what algorithms are, how they are implemented as programs on digital devices, and that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions

Create and debug simple programs

Use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs

Use technology purposefully to create, organise, store, manipulate and retrieve digital content

Recognise common uses of information technology beyond school

Use technology safely and respectfully, keeping personal information private; identify where to go for help and support when they have concerns about content or contact on the internet or other online technologies

Key Stage 2 (Ages 7-11)

Pupils should be taught to:

Design, write and debug programs that accomplish specific goals, including controlling or simulating physical systems; solve problems by decomposing them into smaller parts

Use sequence, selection, and repetition in programs; work with variables and various forms of input and output

Use logical reasoning to explain how some simple algorithms work and to detect and correct errors in algorithms and programs

Understand 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

Use search technologies effectively, appreciate how results are selected and ranked, and be discerning in evaluating digital content

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 given goals, including collecting, analysing, evaluating and presenting data and information

Use technology safely, respectfully and responsibly; recognise acceptable/unacceptable behaviour; identify a range of ways to report concerns about content and contact

Key Stage 3 (Ages 11-14)

Pupils should be taught to:

Design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems

Understand several key algorithms that reflect computational thinking [for example, ones for sorting and searching]; use logical reasoning to compare the utility of alternative algorithms for the same problem

Use 2 or more programming languages, at least one of which is textual, to solve a variety of computational problems; make appropriate use of data structures [for example, lists, tables or arrays]; design and develop modular programs that use procedures or functions

Understand simple Boolean logic [for example, AND, OR and NOT] and some of its uses in circuits and programming; understand how numbers can be represented in binary, and be able to carry out simple operations on binary numbers [for example, binary addition, and conversion between binary and decimal]

Understand the hardware and software components that make up computer systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems

Understand how instructions are stored and executed within a computer system; understand how data of various types (including text, sounds and pictures) can be represented and manipulated digitally, in the form of binary digits

Undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals, including collecting and analysing data and meeting the needs of known users

Create, reuse, revise and repurpose digital artefacts for a given audience, with attention to trustworthiness, design and usability

Understand a range of ways to use technology safely, respectfully, responsibly and securely, including protecting their online identity and privacy; recognise inappropriate content, contact and conduct, and know how to report concerns

Key Stage 4 (Ages 14-16)

All pupils must have the opportunity to study aspects of information technology and computer science at sufficient depth to allow them to progress to higher levels of study or to a professional career.

All pupils should be taught to:

Develop their capability, creativity and knowledge in computer science, digital media and information technology

Develop and apply their analytic, problem-solving, design, and computational thinking skills

Understand how changes in technology affect safety, including new ways to protect their online privacy and identity, and how to report a range of concerns

(via Develop)

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    • Mike Jones

      You mention UK schools however, it’s important to note that education is a devolved issue in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales so this would only affect English schools directly.