Showing what they know in Computing

  • 20 Apr 2016
  • By John Galloway
  • 0

When the revised National Curriculum was introduced there was much fuss about getting rid of levels...

No longer would pupil’s achievements get given a number against a nationally agreed set of descriptors to mark their progression and allow schools across the country to compare how well their charges were getting on in comparison to their peers. Well, almost.

Life beyond levels became true for learners who were working at National Curriculum (NC) levels. Instead they would be described as either having achieved the expectations for their key stage, or be working towards them, or exceeding them. Unless they were working below NC levels, in which case a national system of numbers and descriptors remained in place – the P Levels.

These were initially drawn up in 2003. There was some concern about progression from the upper reaches into NC levels in 2009 and P7 and P8 were reviewed and revised (I undertook this for the then subject of ICT). They have not been revised since.

This means that the subject of Computing is being assessed against the descriptors for ICT. An anomaly -  but one that the Department for Education is not rushing to address. Last summer they re-issued the P Levels. Despite having introduced a revised National Curriculum the only revision to the P Levels, for every subject, was the introduction of bullet points.

Poor planning? A lack of strategic thinking? An oversight? A simple cock up? Despite numbers of people pointing out this problem to them there seems to be no imperative to address it.

Undeterred by this lack of action, an ad hoc group of teachers, advisers, consultants, academics, assessment providers, and concerned others decided to do the job anyway, and create a set of P Scales for Computing that were fit for purpose. The outcome can be found here,

As well as bringing the level descriptors up to date we wanted to give some indication of progression, by offering suggestions of what pupil performance in a classroom might look like. There are also suggestions of what different levels of performance in an activity, and individual outcomes from it might be, and how these show progression and could be described and levelled.

The intention is to provide a useful, classroom based, resource that could be used by specialists and non-specialists alike to describe what their learners have achieved in Computing. It is not intended to suggest what an updated Computing curriculum might look like in the classroom, rather to give guidance on assessment of it regardless of what has been on the timetable.

It has been well received by practitioners. Still no news from the DfE.

See John's talks on ‘Raising standards in literacy: practical technology for inclusion’ and ‘Computing and assessment for SEND’ at nasen Live. Book your free pass to the exhibition and purchase your excellent value seminar sessions online today!

John Galloway -

John Galloway is a specialist in the use of technology to improve educational inclusion, particularly for children and young people with special educational needs. He works part-time for Tower Hamlets as Advisory Teacher for ICT/SEN and Inclusion, and as a consultant, trainer and writer.

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