Fosse Way Academy
Fosse Way Academy’s dedication to offering a first class IT and digital provision is no secret. The school recently achieved a significant milestone by receiving a Level 5 Computing Quality Mark (CQM), the only primary school nationally to have received this level.
We sat down with the headteacher, IT teacher, and governor of the school to discuss how Fosse Way Academy has benefited from engaging with the Computing Quality Framework (CQF), and why you too should adopt it in your school.
Striving for an excellent computing provision
Fosse Way Academy has led the way in providing a first class computing education within its region, and so we delved deeper into what makes their provision not only unique, but an inspiration to other schools.
Robert Cowling, Headteacher of the Academy, began by detailing the school’s fully structured, functioning IT provision for EYFS, KS1 and KS2.
From devices that enable the academy to fulfil the computing curriculum, such as Lego robots, micro:bits, a 3D printer, and Raspberry Pi, to one-to-one devices for learning tools across other subjects, the academy has proven its dedication to improving the digital skills of students and teachers alike.
Why is teaching computing to primary important?
Robert said: “It is essential for preparing [students] for the digital future, developing critical skills, and ensuring they are equipped to thrive in an increasingly technology-driven world.”
“As a headteacher, working with our governors, recognising the importance of computing education leads to informed decisions, funding priorities and policies that benefit the overall education and development of primary school pupils”.
What made you take part in the Computing Quality Framework and how did it benefit you?
“[We] wanted to promote the school and achievement of all staff and pupils - we are all good at what we do, from Early Years Foundation Stage to Year 6. Having such a holistic and extensive structure to deliver computing to all pupils is something not generally found in a primary school environment”.
“Another benefit was to promote professional development and training all staff to empower them to use technology across the school”.
How important is it that primary teachers also get a more in depth understanding of the computing aspect of teaching?
“It’s key” Mark Ward, IT teacher at the Academy tells us. “Assessment wise, I use the NCCE curriculum…There’s a lot of assessment that goes on there that I can use in the ICT suite or using the iPads as well, so its transferable for me and for the [other] teachers to see”.
“A device is only useful if you know how to use it, and it is only useful if that training is ongoing…” “We put time aside in staff meetings, and you [the NCCE] have given us training on Lego sets, robotic kits, and all sorts of other things”.
“The CPD aspect is so key, and anyone new coming into the school is thoroughly inducted into that so that they can get up and running as soon as possible”.
The support from a local Computing Hub
Lincolnshire is not only home to Fosse Way Academy, but also one of the 31 NCCE Computing Hubs offering support to schools across England.
“[The Computing Hub Primary Lead] came and met with us on two occasions… I was also able to email him to get a bit of advice on certain parts of the framework”, said Mark.
Robert added: “Working with the Hub has meant that Mark and other local teaching colleagues have gotten together, asked questions, given each other advice, completed training, and had a person to go to should a person need to get some advice remotely”.
Why would you recommend schools go through the Computing Quality Framework?
“Going through the CQF allowed us to align our computing curriculum with national standards and best practices. This has ensured that our pupils receive a comprehensive and up-to-date education in computing that meets or exceeds established benchmarks”, explained Robert. Catherine Caldwell, governor at Fosse Way Academy tells us how having achieved the CQM is ultimately “a celebration of what the school do, and what provision the pupils have access to”.
“It’s acknowledging the contribution of everybody in the school and lets stakeholders know what we do here. We need the validation that the spending is just and well targeted, and that it makes a difference to [pupils] as they leave us, and that they do make progress throughout their time with us”.
Impact of achieving the CQM award
When speaking about how the CQM has benefited the school so far, Robert tells us how their provision is a huge attraction to parents looking around the Academy for the first time.
“When I’m showing parents round who are thinking about joining our school, and they see the children in classes working on their IT projects and see them being so confident and competent using a whole range of different IT devices, they can’t believe it!”
“When we talk [to parents] about how students have responsibility for their own devices and that they have such a structured curriculum for computing, they feel it is a real bonus in the world we live in”.
Elaborating on how students at Fosse Way Academy have started to use IT to convey messages on timely subjects, such as sustainability, to one another, Robert tells us how he has noticed how his students have gained greater confidence in their presentation skills and the act of sharing information digitally.
“It gives [the students] greater confidence in themselves and in life”.
Mark expands on how achieving the CQM will go on to impact the school for years to come. “It secures and maintains the computing curriculum offer to a high standard and gives clarity of processes and a clear progression of knowledge and skills in place across the school”.
The Chase School, Malvern
At The Chase School in Malvern, computing and digital skills are also a priority.
Teacher John Palmer is computing lead at The Chase, Malvern, one of the first schools to receive a Computing Quality Mark.
“Malvern has sometimes been referred to as “Space Mountain”, due to the number of local companies such as QinetiQ, so provision in Computing and Technology is an area of interest for our parents, and one of our school’s unique selling points,” explained John.
“A high-quality computing education is vital for our students – being able to use computational thinking and creativity will allow them to understand and change the world for the better.
“The CQF has allowed us to gain vital external validation of our computing provision, so that we know it aligns to latest best practice. Nothing stays still for long in computing and education,“ he said.
“We have large numbers of young people taking computing at GCSE and A level, including many girls. The key to that success is the effort we put into making the KS3 computing curriculum interesting and relevant and we use the NCCE’s Teach Computing Curriculum in our KS3 provision.
“Review and self-evaluation is a vital part of my role. Going through the CQF in detail gave me confidence that if Ofsted undertakes a computing “Deep Dive”, we’re able to demonstrate our strong computing provision.”
The Chase school at Malvern is also home to the NCCE Computing Hub offering support to schools across the West Midlands.
“We’re working with schools across the area to adopt the CQF and review and extend their computing provision,” said John.
“As a first step, schools should visit computingqualityframework.org and contact their local NCCE Computing Hub to find out more about what’s on offer.”
Saffron Walden County High School
Teacher Janet Symonds is Head of Computing at Saffron Walden School:
What works well in your school’s computing provision, which might inspire other schools?
“We provide pupils with a varied and engaging curriculum and provide many opportunities for pupils to participate in extra-curricular events across the different key stages including; clubs, competitions, trips and speakers. This engages and generates interest and enthusiasm for the subject. We have increased numbers opting to take Computer Science and also increased the percentage of girls that opt for the subject.”
How has the CQF helped you to develop your provision?
“The CQF has encouraged us to have more interaction with the governor's so that they are more aware of all the work that is being done within the department and they are able to better support us in ventures when they are well-informed.”
“We are also an NCCE hub and as Head of Computing I work closely with the NCCE Hub lead, encouraging our team to participate in relevant training, all staff have completed the Accelerator course, ensuring that skills and knowledge are up-to-date and in line with current expectations.”
Why did you choose to take part in the CQF?
“We are an exceptional school which has always been supportive of other schools and keen to improve our standards and it is good to be recognised in this way.
“Over the past 10 years our department has improved and grown, developing and improving schemes of work that are relevant to today's world, and engaging for a wide range of pupils. The important skills involved in Computing are recognised by the school as essential for pupil development and it is acknowledged that they are important across a range of subjects.”
Pate's Grammar School, Cheltenham
Sophie Barr teaches computer science at Pate’s Grammar School in Cheltenham where she’s also secondary lead at the NCCE Computing Hub based at the school.
Tell us a bit about your computing provision; what works well in your school, which might inspire other schools?
“At Pate's Grammar School, we aim for all students to experience Computing in an environment where they are actively included and supported as part of a high-performance learning environment.
“We seek ways to increase opportunities for students at all key stages to experience Computing in authentic ways and raise the profile of STEM career opportunities, including those in Computer Science, Software Engineering and Cyber Security.
“We are currently implementing a whole-school approach for departments to embed opportunities for students to create real-world applications in cross-curricular contexts. As a result of the school's continued increase in Computing, the school has now added an additional specialist Computing teacher.
“We continuously reflect on ways to develop our curriculum across all key stages and have recently introduced Artificial Intelligence at KS3, Raspberry PI Pico line following robots at KS4 and a Linux based Raspberry PI project at KS5. Overall, it is a very exciting time to teach Computing.”
How has the CQF helped you to develop your provision?
“Engaging with the CQF has allowed our department to review our aims holistically, considering each aspect of the work we are doing from a fresh perspective. Working through each of the strands in the CQF we have created measurable, focused plans to achieve the goals we have been working toward in our Department Development Plan. The clear and structured guidance within the framework has also been an assurance that the changes we are making are research-informed and well placed. “
“As an NCCE hub, we are looking forward to supporting other schools in working toward their Computing Quality Mark and seeing the inspiring things other departments are already doing and aspiring to do.”
Why did you take part in the CQF?
“We were excited to take part in the CQF as an opportunity to showcase the progress and effort we have already made within our computing department. We are always seeking ways to continue growing and improving the provision we deliver in line with the NCCE aim of giving every student a world-class computing education.”
“As a school, we are privileged to have incredibly able and motivated students who will go forward to be world-changers. We are aware that in our ever more diverse yet integrated world, we need students that are ready to be global citizens. As a result, computer science has been in our curriculum for many years and is a core part of the whole school curriculum strategy moving forward. We see the CQF as a way to recognise this commitment to Computing within our school and support us in continuing our journey to innovate and strengthen the department even further.”
The Vale Academy, Brigg
At the Vale Academy in Brigg, North Lincolnshire, computing is a thriving subject, which has now been recognised with an NCCE Computing Quality Mark. Computer science teacher Damian Burrin explained how their approach to computing achieves success across the school.
“We offer Computer Science to all students irrespective of ability and promote it as a subject open to all.
“We try hard to debunk the myth that it’s a ‘hard subject’ and we support students of lower ability to achieve. Success in Computer Science is more about passion from students and teachers and a willingness to keep trying rather than a student’s starting point or ability levels.
“We try to ensure that we apply no gender bias to our lessons, content and delivery style and normally have a good gender split at GCSE with the current Y10 close to 50/50.
“At KS4 we don’t insist the students have completed CS at GCSE to complete the A-Level course and work with the students to help them make the most appropriate choices to reach their end goals.
“The CQF is a great initiative. Other subjects have a subject mark to show they deliver a high-quality curriculum. I know we deliver a good curriculum that supports our local needs and enables students to achieve at the highest standard.
“It’s nice to have the opportunity to have this recognised and hopefully it will encourage more students to complete a Computing based qualification. It also gave us the opportunity to self-evaluate, take stock of what we do and how we do it and adjust our approaches to ensure they remain valid and relevant.”
Gurnard Primary School
Gurnard Primary School is among the first schools to achieve the Computing Quality Mark, having completed all seven steps of the NCCE’s Computing Quality Framework.
Richard Berryman, class teacher and digital learning lead at Gurnard Primary, explained why the CQF has proved to be a valuable resource for teachers, and their pupils. Gurnard Primary School is among the first schools to achieve the Computing Quality Mark, having completed all seven steps of the NCCE’s Computing Quality Framework.
Richard, previously an Year 4 teacher, is now specialist computing teacher, for Years 3 to 6.
“I’ve always been interested in computing and using tech in school was also something that interested me,” he said.
“Of course, computing as a subject didn’t exist in the way it does now when I was young. But if things like physical computing, computational-thinking and Scratch, had been around then, I’m sure I’d have been excited about computing in the way that I am now, which is why I’m so keen to promote it now.” said Richard.
“We know the way that education and society is changing children need to be able to use technologically to access devices and opportunities. We want children to be creators of digital content not just consumers.
“Computing is a both a subject in itself, and also one that’s cross-curricular. For instance, we set digital outcome for LO’s for each half term, eg a virtual world tour for geography,” he said.
“The CQF has really helped us to drill down into the areas we need to address and improve and enabled us to reflect. It’s also been very positive! Before using the CQF, we wouldn’t have recognised our successes or realise we were quite as far a long on the journey as we are. It enabled me to reflect more on what we are doing well.”
“The CQF has given us the next steps and examples of things we might look to do to get to the next step.
“It’s also helped us to look at what’s an effective use of budget. We now have over 100 devices, with three classes with laptops enabling one-to-one learning.
“Support from our local NCCE Computing Hubs was invaluable and from the Subject Matter Expert Phil Wickins.
“The CQF was a great opportunity to reflect on what we had been doing, and recognising our efforts and achievements. It’s all about making sure children are ready for their future. It’s massively valuable to them.
“We have worked hard over the last three years to develop our staff and pupils in their understanding and use of digital technologies across the curriculum.
“We believe in preparing our pupils for the future and want them to have the best possible start within their education.
“By completing the Computing Quality Framework, we have been able to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring a high-quality education for all.”
Matt Holt is a Computing teacher and Specialist Lead Educator at Birkenshaw Church of England Primary School.
“Technology is a fundamental aspect of everyone's life today and we feel we have the same duty to teach computing skills as we do English, Maths and Science.”
“We have set out a clear vision for our teaching of computing which states that we will develop confident, enthusiastic and skilled users of a broad range of technologies; will equip children to become developers and innovators, and will combine subject-specific teaching with the application of computing skills, in context, across the whole curriculum.”
“Our computing provision is facilitated by a specialist computing teacher, who delivers a tailored curriculum across the school from Nursery to Year 6. This means that our computing teacher has a strong overview of progression in the subject with specific expertise in the field and can provide technically robust teaching. However, the main challenge is ensuring other staff members maintain competence and understanding of the computing curriculum, as they do not routinely teach the subject.
“The CQF is invaluable to help identify strengths and weaknesses in our provision. The framework makes it easy to cover all aspects of the subject leader's responsibility and provides a complete and comprehensive roadmap of where you are, where you've been, where you're going - and how you're going to get there!
“The website is very straightforward with lots of good advice, case studies and examples. We were initially approached by the BCS to take part in the pilot programme for primary schools. We were pleased to do this, as we were looking for an alternative to NAACE accreditation. The well-organised website and kind, helpful staff made the decision for us. The fact the framework is free to use was also a massive plus for us too!”
At Maidstone Grammar School for Girls, computing is thriving, and most of the girls choose to study GCSE Computer Science.
Anitha Jebagnanam, Head of Computing at the school, explained how the CQF has helped the school to review its computing provision, and why external recognition is so valuable.
“We have students with various levels of experience when they begin their Computing journey in Year 7. Our curriculum in KS3 is designed to inspire their creativity, kindle curiosity and improve their problem-solving skills.”
“A range of topics specified by the National Curriculum are embedded during this stage in terms of block-based programming, physical computing using BBC Micro: bits, essential digital skills such as using spreadsheets, creating visual media, understanding digital laws and being champions in programming using Python. This has enabled and encouraged the majority of our upper school students to choose to study GCSE Computer Science.”
“Along with a well-laid out curriculum plan delivered by qualified computer scientists, our GCSE students are provided with extra-curricular opportunities such as our bespoke digital careers fair Aspiration Digital, the Oxford University Computing Challenge and Physical Computing workshops such as a drone assault course and crazy-golf creations. This has inspired many young female students to pursue Computer Science at A-level, achieving top grades in the subject. Many go on to study the subject at university and we are incredibly proud of our track record of encouraging and nurturing female students in computer science.”
“The CQF has helped the department to self-review and fine-tune how we operate. It has sparked several very useful discussions and caused us to challenge our existing thinking. This has led to us making changes to elements of our teaching and the way we have structured our curriculum. Support from the CQF team has been very useful and they are quick to respond with informative and helpful replies. They were particularly helpful in areas such as identifying suitable evidence for certain elements as well as technical support on how to complete the forms.”
“We were confident that our computing provision was good and felt that the CQF would give us highly regarded external recognition of our strengths which we could use to promote computing and our expertise at MGGS. We also wanted a new way to review what we were doing and the CQF provided us with benchmarks that allowed us to highlight strengths and weaknesses and help us to plan for the next stage of our department's development. The CQF helps us to prepare for an Ofsted inspection by reviewing our curriculum and providing evidence to prove its successful implementation.”
Chris Ellison is a teacher and the Computing Lead at Hill West Primary School in Birmingham.
“I am passionate about computing and ensuring that all the children in our school have access to a rich and rewarding curriculum. I wanted to work towards the CQF as it gives targets and direction for my leadership, and demonstrates that our school has a computing provision that is both rich and robust."
“As Computing hasn't had the privilege of being a spotlight subject, the CQF has given me the opportunity to establish what needs to be done, and drive forward with our school's provision. We are in our first year of using the Teach Computing Curriculum in its entirety. I was eager to use a curriculum that was beneficial for staff subject knowledge, and incorporated more coding and physical computing. We have reached the Certificate of Progress stage of the CQF and are now working towards achieving the Computing Quality Mark."
“The CQF has helped me target specific areas that we needed to develop as a school. By breaking down the elements of what comprises excellent computing provision, I have been able to able to be specific with my goals and action plans and the CQF acted as a great roadmap for continued development at our school. It has given me reasons to reach out to secondary schools, and create supportive links as well as speak to parents who run STEM-based companies locally with the intent of inviting them in to talk to children about their careers, and the value of STEM subjects.
"Furthermore, the CQF has great links to the subject and year-group-specific CPD which has been rolled out across the school. As part of developing computing within the school, we have invested in Crumble Kits and have borrowed Micro:bits from our local secondary school. Plus, we have been donated a 3D printer to use as part of Code Clubs and our CAD unit in Year 6!"
“Alongside the CQF, our local Computing Hub has been really helpful with making recommendations on what I need to work on to help the school progress and achieve the Computing Quality Mark. This has included feedback on what I can do in a primary setting, and how I will need to evidence these.”