Leading Leaders Network

LLN in London – Vanessa Pittard, Head of STEM at the Department for Education

LLN in London – Vanessa Pittard, Head of STEM at the Department for Education

Vanessa Pittard, Head of STEM at the Department for Education

LLN colleagues were delighted to welcome Vanessa who took time out from her extremely busy schedule to help our understanding of the new National Curriculum before giving us a more in-depth assessment of the issues around Computer Science. 

We were taken on a journey to understand the new National Curriculum – from sharing the Vision for Delivery, to how the model for Delivering the Vision is planned and then timescales.  Vanessa took time to carefully explain the issues, took questions, received feedback and gave us a very clear understanding of what, how and when.  The session was intense and enthralling with plenty of discussion, comment and sharing of views.  We cannot record every moment but are happy to share some key points arising, you can find and download the presentation here: 130705 Vanessa Pittard Leading Leaders.

How will the garden grow? There will be no new statutory document, no new strategies dictating how things must be done, no national rollouts and no government-led teachings CPD programmes, “Why should government dictate what is good when the practise is out there?

When? The new curriculum for schools that are not academies becomes statutory in September 2014; the ICT curriculum has been dis-applied until then in order to prepare for changes in 2014.

How?  The view is that “the best is out there” and that the professional networks and subject associations have a big part to play. In a slimmed down curriculum there are fewer right answers about how to deliver something. Just have to demonstrate to Ofsted how the curriculum is being delivered…

Who? Teaching schools will play a big part – we have a number in LLN.  There are currently 306 nationally with around 20 schools per alliance, they receive £60k in first year, reducing after that. They build capacity and leadership and are outstanding schools that have outstanding leadership.those with the status of  Local leaders of Education are also included and the links with National College includes their leading curriculum development page.  This is not about Government saying here is how to do it, rather government facilitating through tools, resources and online networks how to lead the change.

With a better understanding of the apprach, we turned our attention to the topic of Computer Science.

Our in-depth session covered the context, timetable for changes, engagement in drafting, pupil expectations (new curriculum), workforce implications, teachers and teaching, support networks, partnerships and sources of support.

Vanessa welcomed discussion and comments from LLN members who always engage fully in an open and frank set of discussions, below are some of the key points arising from those conversations with Vanessa:

  • This is moving from ICT to computing across all four key stages
  • The context is the increasing importance to the world of computer science/computing and disciplines, it is of theoretical and academic importance
  • UK PLC companies make a significant impact as lots of principles of computing and computer science are critical to other industries and services
  • Organisations are becoming more technological yet there is a shortage of talent and those of the right calibre are not being attracted
  • An open questuions was “is it possible that HE perceive that Computing is not considered to be high status? “
  • Important to bring in rigorous discipline and present the simple economic argument
  • ICT curriculum has already been freed up, computing will be compulsory, yet balanced with digital literacy
  • Schools can teach more broadly but they must meet PoS for computing
  • Computer science will now count as a science subject (EBACC).
  • There will be implications for primary schools yet as the curriculum becomes n ore fedined, understanding the primary demands will become easier
  • A key challenge or issue will be about practical approaches to implementation and of transition
  • When looking for a description of the new computing curriculum, we heard that it was about relevance, a few extracts and examples included: “doing things in a smart way”, ” here is a business problem…solve it”, ” if looking at marketing, how can you exploit technology for success?”

Notes for LLN colleagues:

As always, Vanessa is open to hear what will be helpful to her to get the messages to Headteachers.  We will ask LLN colleagues for further comments in our autumn term update including views on the leadership agenda and what may be of help to developing leadeship awareness (e.g. EXite).

Vanessa values LLN and will include the LLN logo within the partnership slide to demonstrate your engagement.