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Curriculum update

Clare Johnson of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority reports that schemes of work are to be extended to 11 to 14-year-olds for ICT capability

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority and the Department of Education and Employment are to publish schemes of work for 11 to 14-year-olds. Ofsted has reported that two thirds of pupils do not make good progress in ICT, that teachers often expect too little of pupils and that too much time is spent practising low level skills.

The new ICT scheme of work aims to help raise standards by suggesting how to translate the national curriculum programmes of study for ICT into practical teaching plans. The schemes are not statutory and schools can use as much or as little of the material as they find useful.

The new scheme follows a similar format to those aimed at five to seven-year-olds and 7 to 11-year-olds, based on discrete units covering different aspects of the study programme. The units are designed to be delivered in 36 hours a year in each of years seven, eight and nine, during ICT lessons.

There are 15 units in total, including a 7 to 11-year-olds and 11 to 14-year-olds bridging unit which is designed to allow new Year 7 pupils to demonstrate the skills they have acquired. The unit is linked to unit 6A of the primary scheme, with pupils producing a multimedia presentation about themselves and their school.

The subsequent 14 units cover all aspects of the programme of study, linking skills, knowledge and understanding to contexts and software solutions. Most units require pupils to use at least two different pieces of software and the final unit at the end of Year 9 shows how pupils might be taught to produce a high-quality project that demonstrates their ICT capability.

The units use everyday contexts that are accessible to teachers and pupils alike, and software skills are taught hrough solving problems. Examples include bidding for lottery money as a context for datahandling, loyalty cards to teach about use and misuse of data, and the front of house for a school production as the final project context. Schools that have already developed good cross-curricular ICT teaching might want to develop these themes into more subject-specific contexts. Whatever method is adopted, the main objective remains for pupils to gain high levels of ICT capability that can be transferred between subjects and then used at the appropriate time.

Each unit contains assessment expectations, detailing what most pupils might be expected to achieve having completed a unit. These should form a natural link to the later examples of the standards pupils might aspire to. This scheme assumes that most Year 7 pupils will have had good ICT experience at the 7 to 11-year-olds stage and does not, therefore, repeat work already covered in the five to seven-year-olds and 7 to 11-year-olds scheme. The Year 7 units are all pitched at around level 4 with subsequent units moving pupils towards level 6 and level 7. It should be possible for pupils showing aptitude to achieve level 8 and exceptional performance.

As well as for ICT, the key stage 3 schemes of work will be available for all curriculum subjects - art, science, geography, music, history, religious education, French and Damp;T. All these schemes contain ICT references and should help teachers of these subjects to both deliver the statutory requirements for ICT use and to ensure pupils develop their ICT capability through the study of the subject. They are available on the Web at and are currently being distributed to schools. (German and Spanish schemes will follow later in the year.) Clare Johnson is principal manager, information and communications technology, QCA

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