UK Govt outlines computer science curriculum

UK Govt outlines computer science curriculum
Craig Chapple

By Craig Chapple

September 17th 2013 at 10:15AM

Education in programming and computing skills to begin in primary schools

The government has outlined the new curriculum for computer science in schools.

A program has been drawn up for Key stages one through four, which will mean students will begin learning computer science from early primary school and then throughout their education.

The statutory guidance states the aim of the national curriculum for computing is to ensure students can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation.

Pupils will also be taught to analyse problems in computational terms with practical experience of writing computer programs to solve them, to evaluate and apply information technology analytically to solve problems, and also ensure pupils are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of such information and communication technology.

The publication stated that such a “high quality education equips pupils to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world”.

The new GSCE subject in computing will replace ICT from September 2014.

UKIE vice-chair and Next Gen Skills campaigner Ian Livingstone praised the move to replace the ICT curriculum with a rigorous new education in computing, and welcomed the emphasis on creativity in the subject.

“The publication of the new curriculum marks a step change for English schools and is a major boost for the creative economy,” he said.

“Out goes the old ICT curriculum, which most students found boring, and in comes Computing based on problem-based learning that will be rigorous, relevant and exciting. It will give students a good grounding in programming too. I particularly welcome the emphasis on creativity, giving a much-needed signal to schools that the teaching of digital-making skills also requires Art and Humanities for children to be able to express themselves and operate in the digital world.”

You can view the subject content for each Key stage below.

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