Software development for the school Computing curriculum

Topic Description

A new Computing curriculum was introduced in UK schools in September 2014. It focuses on Computing as a discipline in its own right, with great emphasis on computer science, computational thinking, alongside some consideration of information technology, intended as an understanding of how computers and communications technology work, and digital literacy, which relates on the evaluation and creation of digital artefacts.
A noticeable omission is consideration of software development as a body of knowledge related to the methods, practices and tools which are used in practice to develop software artefacts: instead, the curriculum emphasises the science of computation, building up programming skills from first principles, and assuming a progression through the various key stages of primary and secondary education – in essence the student learns how computation works. A debate as to whether this is appropriate is ongoing.
Projects under this topic will investigate the extent software development might have a place in the school Computing curriculum. Investigations may consider the effects of introducing software development at specific key stages or in the context of interdisciplinary school education, or the transfer and adaptation of specific practices from the profession into schools.

Skills Required:

Ideally you should have a background in Computing/Software development/Computing education, possibly with a Masters level qualification or equivalent professional experience. You should have an interest in improving the school curriculum to inspire future Computing generations. You will require access to teachers, whether in schools, code clubs or other educational settings, who are willing to take part in the research. Previous experience of academic research would be advantageous.

Background Reading:

M. Armoni and J. Gal-Ezer. Early computing education: why? what? when? who? ACM Inroads, 5(4):54–59, 2014.

M. Guzdial. What’s the best way to teach computer science to beginners? Communications of the ACM, 58(2):12–13, 2015.

S. Fincher. What are we doing when we teach computing in schools? Communications of the ACM, 58(5):24–26, 2015.

P. Guo. Teaching programming the way it works outside the classroom. Communications of ACM, 56(8):10–11, 2013.

Jon G. Hall, Lucia Rapanotti (2014). The computing curriculum: what every child should know. The Conversation,

UK Gov, Department of Education (2013). National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study.

J. M. Wing. Computational thinking. Communications of the ACM, 49(3):33–35, 2006.

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Dr Lucia Rapanotti


Dr Jon Hall