You may recall how Harold, in Crockett Johnson's popular children's story Harold and the Purple Crayon, decides in his search for excitement and adventure to go for a walk in the moonlight. Armed with an oversized purple crayon, he is able to create and explore a new, exhilarating world.
In the same way as the purple crayon is a catalyst for Harold's imagination and sense of adventure, our new ICT curriculum in London borough of Havering has inspired pupils to immerse themselves in the possibilities offered by today's technology.
A year before education secretary Michael Gove put the "dull and unsatisfactory" ICT curriculum on hold, a group led by Havering School Improvement Services' ICT team had already started work on a dynamic programme of study. The new curriculum, known as Switched on ICT, was designed to help develop the skills our pupils are likely to need in the future.
As one of the original pilot schools in Havering, we provided regular feedback to specialist publisher Rising Stars, which was developing the study materials for our 21st-century ICT curriculum. When I started rolling out this broader, cross-curricular approach to ICT, I quickly realised that, because it was not context specific, it was easy to embed. Switched on ICT was designed to keep costs to a minimum, using as many free, open-source resources as possible.
To help our staff adapt to the curriculum, we established a panel of digital leaders from among the pupils. We now have Year 3 pupils using the free programming language Scratch, something that Michael Gove had cited as being undertaken in Year 7.
On a typical morning, our Year 4 children may be in a history lesson creating wikis or a blog about the Second World War. Through the "We are musicians" unit, they may create music to complement their studies, or a spreadsheet to track the evacuation patterns of children at our school during the war.
In a literacy lesson, Year 5 pupils may use persuasive writing to create their own advertising campaign for television, radio, posters and online media in the unit "We are advertisers".
After lunchtime, Year 6 may use the "We are web developers" unit to create interactive pages for their websites on Victorians, continuing them at home later.
The results have been impressive; our pupils have certainly taken hold of their purple crayons. We are very proud of what we have achieved and we welcome any other schools or local authorities who would like to visit Havering's schools.
Nigel Hooton is ICT leaderteacher at St Peter's Catholic Primary School, Romford
Try chadders07's tutorial to get you started with Scratch programming software.
In this presentation, LitProfSuz explains why blogging is a great way to communicate with pupils.