Every now and then the thorny issue of Level 5 ICT in primary schools raises its head, so I thought I’d pop my down my tuppence worth.
First up is to say that I think it’s pretty difficult to get a L5 in ICT in a primary school. I’m not saying we don’t have pupils that aren’t capable or don’t show aspects of Level 5 in their work, just that I don’t think we’ll get a L5 across the board. So, having set myself up for abuse and accusations of dumbing down our pupils, I’ll explain why I think this way.
Firstly, L5 requires the pupils to display a level of independence that we don’t generally give them. The KS3 Strategy materials referred to a ‘glass celining’ that capped pupils’ attainment at L4 if we are over prescripive about what the pupils choose. An example of this would be to set the class the perfectly reasonable taks of producing an advert in Publisher. Nothing wrong with that in itself, but by telling them that we’re producing a leaflet and prompting them about the software, we’re capping them at L4. To open it up, we should ask them to create some publicity material and let them make the choices. Presentation, web site, Flyer…… and then choose the software to create their choice.
Secondly, to demonstrate L5, all aspects of the PoS should be covered in a topic that is linked together. An example of this sort of topic can be found here. Typically this sort of project is 8 to 10 weeks and assumes coverage of the Y7 and 8 Programmes of Study. Now whilst I thik that the Y7 PoS is well within the possibilities of some KS2 pupils, I’m less convinced about Y8, especially some of the spreadsheet work. This is an area of uncertainty for many Y6 teachers, so if they’re not confident of teaching the Y6 PoS, how can we be sure we’re teaching with significant rigour to L5? The same goes for control, another area of teacher uncertainty.
Linked to this are two other barriers I see to KS2 pupils acheiving L5 in ICT. The time the unit takes and the nature of the way we teach ICT at KS2. Even as schools find more creative ways to deliver the National curriculum, ICT is still generally delivered in disconnected chunks: a spreadsheet on pocket money here, controllling something there and editing some video of the school trip. All very sound practice, but not linked together as a L5 would be.
So…. what if we re-design the curriculum and create a topic that offers the pupils this possibility? Being realistic, SATS are going to dominate proceedings until they finish in mid May. Schools finish usually by the third week in July, so that’s about the 10 weeks we need, but there’s school trips, residentials, visits to the secondary schools, productions….. Somehow I don’t see the time being available.
At a regional meeting some months ago, this topic came up and I was comforted to find out that my reservations about L5 in a primary school weren’t just mine. On the back of a discussion, the group came up with a side of A4 on the issue that I think sums things up quite succintly.