Computing and ICT are constantly evolving – what was once considered futuristic just a few short years ago very quickly becomes the norm and a ubiquitous part of our daily lives. When I first taught A Level IT about 12 years ago, I remember showing the pupils a video about how they would soon be able to look at images on their smartphones and enlarge them using just their fingers. Now this is something we take for granted. It can be quite difficult to keep changing the school curriculum to incorporate these unending changes that take place and ensure that the knowledge and skills we teach our pupils remains current and relevant.
We teach a range of software skills throughout the school ranging from ensuring all pupils have good digital literacy (word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, databases) to coding skills (Scratch, Logo, HTML, Python, the BBC microbit) to knowledge and understanding around how computers work, where it all started, who the famous people are/were and where it might be going in the future.
It is important that we give our pupils the IT knowledge and skills that will stand them in good stead for university and future employment. So many jobs now require different levels of digital skills. We already offer the British Computer Society GCSE equivalent qualification ECDL to our year 9 pupils and we have had some fantastic results from this over the years. We also introduced the BTEC Nationals Level 3 Extended Certificate in IT into our Sixth Form a couple of years ago which has been created with employer involvement and looks at all the IT skills needed to successfully run a business. Three completing students so far have all achieved Distinction grades.
We have now introduced another employer led Award called iDEA – “Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award” – which is the internationally recognised, digital equivalent of the Duke of Edinburgh award. It has bronze, silver and gold awards and pupils complete “badges” in a wide variety of digital, enterprise and employability topics. Each badge is worth several points and they need 250 points to gain the bronze award. An added bonus is that it is completely free, they can choose the topics that interest them most and work on their badges at any time, for example on the way to and from school on the bus if they have an Internet connection on their smartphone. Just a few examples of badges are: fake news, cyber security, Python programming, web designer, digital portfolios, video editing, problem solving, the art of selling, as well as numerous others.
Our year 9 pupils have really enjoyed getting stuck into the topics on offer and have already collected a fair number of badges this term. We also have a few year 12s who have enrolled. In fact, Josh has already completed the Bronze award in the first four weeks of term. Pretty impressive – he was doing it at home and on the bus!
If any other pupils (year 10 and above) are interested in knowing a bit more or want to get started, then please get in touch with either myself or Miss Johnson. You can find further information on idea.org.uk . . . don’t stand by whilst computing and ICT are constantly evolving.
Wendy Banks, Head of ICT