Since the introduction of the computing curriculum in September 2014, like many teachers I have been busy developing schemes of work and looking at ways to teach the programme of study that is not only relevant to our learners but ensures it that the breadth of study leaves them with the skills they need to be successful when they move on. One of the challenges faced in a generic secondary school, is finding resources that are matched to the levels of the students (P7 – NC3) but are also age appropriate. (Not many 15 yr old students want to use a Beebot).
Over the last year, I have been fortunate enough to work with Catherine Elliott (@catherinelliott) on developing a wiki page (www.sencomputing.wikispaces.com) dedicated to sharing some of the great work being done in special schools. This led me to being ask to present at BETT in the Learn Live SEN theatre (thanks @caroljallen) on how the computing curriculum can be adapted to enable all learners to succeed. It was a great to be able to share the great work that is going in schools and was amazed by how many people came to the session and came to talk to me afterwards.
After the session, there was a gathering of practioners from the SEN scene who came together to discuss assessment and the computing curriculum. This is particularly relevant especially with the the removal of NC levels, however P-levels still remain and the issue is that these do not match up to the new programme of study. The starting point for the discussions was based around the following points –
- Should the revised Computing curriculum apply to all learners, including those with more complex and challenging special needs?
- Does it really change our practice, or just how we describe it?
- For some the P Levels remain, but are they still fit for purpose?
- Can computational thinking be recognised in a meaningful way, or is it all tokenistic?
In the short time, this raised differing views, however a consensus was made that we needed to create a system that could be used nationally, which clearly maps out the progression route for students operating at between P5-P8 in this subject. With only an hour, there was not time to do this but we are going to follow this up with a day where educators can get to together make some inroads into this. If you are interested in this have a look at the wiki to find out more information about where the discussion is heading.
Below is a copy of my presentation from the session.
I was invited up to London to present about the challenges that are raised for students with SEN with the introduction of the new computing curriculum. I felt honoured that I was asked to do this, as I feel there are lots of great SEN practioners out there doing some great stuff in thier classrooms and schools and to be asked to represent the SEN field made me feel very humble. I also felt that it was at least nice to recognise SEN in this forum though still believe that when it comes to SEN we are very much an afterthought. (Nothing new there!)
Anyway the day was great and it nice to here from very inspring professionals like Simon Humphreys who coordinates Computing at School and Claire Lotriet (@OhLottie) who both gave excellent presentations about the content of he new computing curriculum. Across the day, it was said lots and lots of time that the new commuting curriculum is not all about coding and that in encompasses digital literacy/e-safety and ICT as well and that the focus should not be all about computer science.
I talked about the challenges that students with SEND face and how we could overcome them. I also talked the about how it was important for the content providers to consider adding the ability to change fonts, think about different modes of access etc to enable our learners to be successful in demonstrating their knowledge and not be blocked by these barriers. I also touch on the importance of teaching computational thinking away from computers and link it to other areas of the curriculum. Have attached a copy of my slides here.
What was nice about the day was the opportunity to speak to other practitioners from special schools who had come (I did wonder if I was the only one in the room) and make links with them. I feel that as a special needs community we need to work together to produce resources and collaborate on what works well for our students. In the end of the day it will be what we do in the classroom that’s makes the difference and if we wait around for Government and other people to produce content to match mainstream it could be a long wait.
I have mentioned in another blog post about a wikispace set up specifically with the aim of sharing and collaborating on SEN and Computing the link is here. Sign up and help us make this resource even better, it would be great to work with other special schools and share what I know is fantastic work being done by schools.
Over the next couple of months I will be deep in the process of adapting our sixth form curriculum, for the special school I work in, with the aim to enable our learners to be better equipped with the skills they need to be able to either transition successfully to college, work or become more independent and able to access services post 19.
The biggest challenge, is meeting the needs of all the students ranging from PMLD, ASC, SLD and MLD, which also presents us with an opportunity to devise a curriculum that is flexible and that interchanges between different routes.
What will this look like? How can we ensure that all learners have a personalised timetable to meet their needs as well as fitting in with the resources available at the school? What are the important skills that SEN students needs to fulfil their potential? These are the questions that I will looking to provide answers to and am interested in others views on this, so feel free to contribute and any comments would be greatly appreciated.