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Good governance for computing (and the curriculum)

Governors Meeting

Governors Meeting

If you were living on Mars for the last few years you may not realise that there is a new curriculum in England.  You can download the documentation here : http://www.education.gov.uk/schools/teachingandlearning/curriculum.

Good governance develops:

  • Positive relationships between governors and school leaders
  • Well informed governors
  • Honest, insightful evaluation
  • A clarity of role for leaders and governors
  • Regular visits and gathering information about the school when it is working
  • Mutual support from all stakeholders
  • the use of governor networks to fill school gaps (if needed)
  • Self reflection from the governing body (answer the points above)

Governors need to know their school.  Does your governing body have a sub-committee that can look at the curriculum in depth?  When the sub-committee meet about the curriculum they should:

  • Identify if the curriculum is broad and balanced.  Does it fit the needs of the students at the school?
  • Does it promotes the spiritual, emotional, moral, cultural, intellectual and physical development of pupils at the school and thereby of society; and
  • prepare such pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of life by equipping them with appropriate knowledge, understanding and skills.

If you are interested in good governance as  then take a look at : Learning from the best (a report from the DfE)

From and OfSTED point of view in the evaluation schedule we  it is states that:

The school’s curriculum promotes and sustains a thirst for knowledge and a love of learning. It covers a wide range of subjects and provides opportunities for academic, technical and sporting excellence. (Previously “provides highly positive experiences and rich opportunities for high quality learning.”) It has a very positive impact on all pupils’ behaviour and safety, and contributes very well to pupils’ academic achievement, their physical well being, and their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development.

We can see that this is quite a qualitative judgement that will be tested during an inspection through questions like:

  • How have governors been involved in the new curriculum development?

  • Can you tell me the governor’s vision for the school curriculum?

  • What curriculum CPD have you had as governors?

  • How do you ensure that the curriculum is broad and balanced at your school?

  • How does the curriculum cater for all students at your school?

Governing computing

So how did we get there with computing? The Shutdown or Restart report from the Royal Society gives a fair account of the  demise of computing in our schools : http://royalsociety.org/education/policy/computing-in-schools/report/ 

Eric Schmidt also slammed UK computing education in a visit to the UK in 2012/13 (see the video above).

My current concerns are that :

  • Governors will be victims of the computing ‘hype’.  There are a lot of stories currently in the tabloid press and on the Television giving an unclear view on exactly what computing is.  These often focus on programming, game creation and APP development.  These are a small part of the computing curriculum.
  • Specialised computing professionals whom are also governors will (albeit innocently) confuse schools especially in the primary sector.  Governors need to be aware of the curriculum and should be weary of headlines that can mislead.   Essentially they should primarily read the curriculum for computing and discuss this with the computing lead at the school who may be able to discuss this in more detail.

What can we do?

Firstly I recommend both primary and secondary governors read the primary curriculum guidance.

  • Identify a computing governor (They do not need to be a specialist and it may be a governor responsible for the curriculum in the case of a small school).
  • Check the school curriculum is on track for the September 2014 start
  • Discuss schools interpretation of computing curriculum – What are the areas of the curriculum that the school do already?  What areas do they need to develop?
  • Discuss computing CPD school has done for introduction of computing
  • Discuss ways in which school will implement this over time and what cpd needs to be done
  • Be positive about these changes they will take time! But keep monitoring them.

Identify areas of external support for the school and other governors:

It is important to disseminate the findings back to the full governing body.   You could do this via a governors curriculum inset and ask the school curriculum lead to present or alternatively the curriculum lead can feed back to the full governing body.

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About danbowen

Educational technology learning and teaching consultant, support, training, change management, innovation and all things ICT and educational, father of two, guitarist, welsh rugby follower,

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