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ICT / Computing

Published on January 2nd, 2015 | by What2Learn


Content of the new National Curriculum for Computing

Essentially, the new National Curriculum for Computing requires schools to develop student’s knowledge and skills in three key areas – Computer Science, Information Technology and Digital Literacy. Obviously these do not need to be delivered as discrete units and many activities will provide opportunities to address two or even three of these key areas at the same time.

Some elements of the new Computing programmes of study for Key Stage 3, particularly those relating to the Information Technology and Digital Literacy components, enable many of the ICT schemes of work schools will be currently using to remain in place:

Pupils should be taught to:

  • 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, re-use, revise and re-purpose 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.

This is highly positive as although the KS3 ICT curriculum may now be gone, GCSE ICT qualifications are here to stay (for the moment) so schools are still able to use the above elements of the new programmes of study to help prepare pupils for these qualifications. The importance of this cannot be understated as schools should avoid a knee-jerk reaction to dropping GCSE ICT courses (or equivalents) and moving on to GCSE Computing courses as they simply will not suit all students. Furthermore, future cohorts of pupils will be much better prepared to tackle GCSE Computing as they will have developed their knowledge and understanding of Computing through developments to the curriculum throughout KS1 to KS3. This will take a number of years to work through the system.

However, the KS3 Computing programmes of study do have lots of content which will require schools and teachers to prepare to make substantial changes to their current provision. These are that 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 two 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

The above bullet points do at first glance seem fraught with dry, serious content and requiring of months of retraining. Not to mention the expense of re-resourcing an entire department! Thankfully this is not the case as the remaining sections in this guide will show.

Use of the suggested resources teacher and pupil resources in this guide will see your pupils become independent designers of fantastic games, creators of automated computer systems and writers of programs which solve lots of real-world problems.

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