This week’s message (Friday 01 March 2024)

Friday 01 March 2024

It’s the first day of March and starting to feel like Spring. It’s also St David’s Day, so if you’ve any Welsh connections (or happen to be called David!) then perhaps enjoy some sort of celebration!

World Book Day is right around the corner but we celebrate reading all year round. We want children to leave school and have a life-long love of reading because the benefits of those who read for pleasure are far-ranging; there’s a strong positive link with empathy, well-being and attainment, just to name a few. Next week (and beyond), try reading something you and your child wouldn’t normally choose. You could create a quiz about the book or pretend to be the main character, acting or talking like them. You might just curl up together on the sofa and take turns reading aloud. The most important thing for children is that they have dedicated time put towards reading and that they have the power of choice over what they read… like a match day programme, song lyrics or graphic novels – anything counts!

The rest of this week’s message comes from Mr Wilks, who’s our Curriculum Leader in Sphere Federation…

What is this half-term’s topic?

This half-term, it’s Computing. We’re developing our knowledge of computers and computer programming.

Computer programming is super. Creating games, animations and solving real world problems is fun, encourages creativity and is challenging! Importantly, the skills the children develop and use are transferable to other subjects and areas of life. For example, the concept of decomposition in programming is concerned with breaking down a large task into smaller chunks. This concept could be used when writing a story, solving a maths problem or tidying a particularly messy bedroom! Debugging is the skill of identifying and fixing an error in a program. It requires systematic, objective thinking and plenty of resilience.

Each phase has age-related specific knowledge, skills and vocabulary that they’ll learn, use and apply across the topic. See page 11 and 12 of our Topic Curriculum Guide.

Years 1 and 2

Children will learn about how technology is used beyond school in our homes and all around us. They’ll begin to consider what a computer is and isn’t.

In programming lessons, they’ll be introduced to algorithms and will learn about how they need to be written in the correct sequence.

They’ll create their own algorithms in ‘unplugged computing’ lessons and will debug errors in their own and others’ algorithms. Next, they’ll plan and create their own unplugged game where they have to create an algorithm to move a character from one place to another using positional language.

They’ll then use the same concepts using Beebots – simple robots which can be programmed to move and turn. Finally, it’ll be time to create their own game using Beebots.

Years 3 and 4

Pupils will begin with some ‘unplugged computing’. They’ll create, and debug unplugged programs which use sequence and repetition before they then create their own unplugged game which will require some decomposition. Next, it’s time to program on a platform called Scratch Jr. It’s a free app available on most devices and will allow children to develop and refine their understanding and use of concepts like repetition and sequence. Finally, they’ll create their own game on Scratch Jr using all of the skills they’ve learned over the topic. They will have some creativity to plan and design their own game. They may choose to create a maze game or a simple platform game. 

Years 5 and 6

Children will begin the topic by reasoning about what makes a computer a computer. They’ll then learn about how search engines work and how to best use them. In programming lessons, they’ll use Scratch to gain a deeper understanding of concepts like sequence and repetition before learning about selection and variables. Some of this vocabulary may sound alien to you. However, before the end of the topic your child will be able to tell you what they mean and give examples of how they’ve used them in their projects. Some of the projects your children will create are:

How can you help?

Talk to your child about what they’ve been learning in class. Our Class News  is a good place to go to find out more about what the children are doing.

The school library and local libraries have lots of books about coding and computer games which your child will be able to borrow and develop both their reading skills and computing knowledge.

Finally, try programming with your child. There are loads of programming apps and software available to download, often for free. Here’s a list:

Key Stage 1:

Key Stage 2: