Best Practice

Teaching computational thinking effectively

The computing national curriculum is underpinned by computational thinking – a set of thinking skills that help students to ask questions, understand problems and find solutions. Mark Dorling and Thomas Ng look at how teachers can approach the teaching of these core skills

In 2014, the disapplied ICT national curriculum was transformed into a computing curriculum for all key stages. The broad subject area of computing put forward by a Royal Society report in 2012 – Shut Down or Restart? – encompasses three strands: computer science, information technology and digital literacy.

Pupils have an entitlement to be taught all three strands across all four key stages. Computer science is defined as a rigorous academic discipline with its own body of knowledge. Programming is a part of the new computing curriculum, but not its whole.

The educational case for teaching computer science in schools was made as learners would become “technology designers and creators” (makers) as opposed to just being “technology users” (consumers). While programming is the means to realise the design, another important part of the discipline is “computational thinking”.

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