Prior to the launch of Curriculum 2014 many schools faced the challenge of implementing the new Computing Curriculum. At Colebrook Infant Academy they faced the challenge head on and selected DB Primary as a key resource to help them do so.
The new curriculum was the catalyst for Colebrook Infant Academy
The computing curriculum made headlines prior to its launch in 2014 as a new focus on computing science or coding was set to challenge schools when Computing replaced IT as a subject in the national curriculum. This was an area in which many schools lacked confidence despite a wide range of software having been used in the primary phase for many years. The new curriculum placed an emphasis on coding skills as well as the more traditionally taught areas of e-safety, communication and collaboration. At Colebrook Infant Academy this provided the impetus to review their existing curriculum and to consider new provision of software.
Why Colebrook Infant selected DB Primary to help deliver the new curriculum
The school were keen to embrace the new aspects of the curriculum but were also keen to ensure the curriculum was balanced and met the needs of their children aged 5-7 years old. They viewed a number of products, including some free software before finally deciding that DB Primary with its tools, rich content and safety features best met their needs.
Teaching pupils’ key online safety skills from the start
DB Primary is based on each individual pupil having their own unique login and dashboard. They have a set of web-based tools including forum and blogs that they can easily manage through a simple editor that allows them not only to enter text, but also to draw their own pictures, add sound clips, images and video. The children can participate in communication and collaborative activities set by their teachers, protected by a filtering and monitoring system that shows exactly what the children have been doing, when they’ve accessed the site and for how long they were on it. All these features are backed up by a unique whistle system that allows children to immediately alert staff if they come across anything that concerns or upsets them.
Computing content to support ‘learning by doing’
Subscribing to the Learning Library also gives the school access to rich, quality online content and activities. The coding activities in particular were a key aspect the school were keen to access. This allows for children to participate in progressive activities that allow them to build their knowledge of algorithms. Simple age-appropriate activities that allow for the input and editing of commands really enable the children to practice and grasp the concepts. The fact that the teacher can assign the activities to a class or group for access at home or in school is another bonus. The system allows for the teacher to determine whether the children can try each activity once or multiple times and the fact that they are self-marking really reduces teacher workloads. Each activity is set at three different entry-levels and so differentiation and/or consolidation is really easy to achieve.
So… what have the results been?
DB Primary is used throughout the school from EYFS through to Year 2 with the older children using it in more depth and with greater regularity. The children are keen and many independently access their own blogs, forum and email (internal only) as well as visiting the Learning Library to try out games and activities for themselves at home. Their knowledge and understanding of the system is very good with teaching not only reinforced in lessons but also through regular e-safety assemblies and events. School Council are very knowledgeable and share their understanding of the whistle for e-safety well. Teachers are confident in the use of the platform, but there is occasionally specialist teaching when parallel classes work together and teachers swap groups rather than subjects. Regular staff training takes place, but this is generally approached by undertaking smaller/shorter inputs and is focused on learning outcomes rather than how to do it as the system is simple to use.
Recently the school has reviewed its practice and intend to make further improvements having trialled New Era’s Digital Citizenship Scheme of Work (which combines use of the Learning Library activities with online activities in the children’s spaces and online communities (classes). From September 2018 they will using be the community blog and forum as starting point for whole class teaching of some of the core skills and knowledge. This is anticipated to further improve the children’s skills and knowledge and improve teaching and learning outcomes.