We don’t want to “sheep dip” teachers says DfE on computing curriculum

Teachers given freedom of new open curriculum to tweak but not throw the baby out with the bath water says DfE at Bett 2014

The Department for Education (DfE) does not want to “sheep dip” teachers through the new computing curriculum, but give them the opportunity to innovate, according to a DfE representative at Bett 2014.

Bett is taking place from 22 to 25 January at the London ExCel, attracting more than 35,000 attendees and 700 exhibitors discussing IT in education.

At Bett, Jim Magee, assistant director at the Department for Education (DfE), said: “There is a demand from teachers for the whole curriculum this year, but computing is a whole new world. Preparation is needed but we don’t want to sheep dip everyone.

“We’re not expecting everyone to throw everything out and start again. Only tweaks to what you do already and seeing what’s needed next.”

According to DfE, the government only set out the "what" and the "how" at a high level.

The replacement of the ICT curriculum with the new computer science curriculum, due to begin in September, means there is now a much greater focus on practical experience of programming and understanding the fundamentals principles of computer science.

More on the computing curriculum

Magee said the computing curriculum at Key Stage 3 and 4 is quite light and therefore, “It was about getting the core right and leaving teachers to decide how to teach it for themselves.”

Increasing system leadership

In addition Magee explained: “A key feature of government policy this year is ‘system leadership’ or moving to a school-led system.”

In June 2012 it was announced that Teaching Schools, academy chains and outstanding schools would take the lead, working with other schools in their area on teacher training.

Magee said there will be a push from the DfE to expand on the number of system leaders in England, with the new curriculum due to commence in September. There are currently 355 teaching schools and 299 school alliances.

According to the DfE, the system-led approach will focus on primary maths, English, science, computing and languages for 2014.

Read more on IT technical skills