Case study: Apps for Good

Written by: HTU | Published:

In preparing for the new computing curriculum in September, deputy head Rebecca Stacey has worked with the charity Apps for Good. She explains what the project entailed.

The change to a new computing-based curriculum for primary schools in September is giving teachers and school leaders lots to think about. For the first time, the computing curriculum has been given a complete overhaul and changed into a much wider, and arguably more relevant curriculum area. 

The curriculum now covers aspects of digital literacy, such as understanding the world wide web and making informed choices. Aspects of e-safety, always important, now look at recognition of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour while online.

Coding, which includes debugging code and explaining how simple algorithms work, begins in key stage 1. Sounds exciting? Definitely! It gives schools freedom to develop, select and play with technology in a way that I don’t think primaries have ever done before. At the same time we need to ensure that the computing curriculum is a meaningful and relevant experience, and not just a bolt on. 

To make any curriculum meaningful and relevant takes time and schools up and down the country have been preparing for the changes to the curriculum. Like us, many have been exploring the new apps available for coding and looking at services to provide opportunities within the curriculum. 

We have developing approaches to e-safety which give good whole-school coverage and give the children the opportunity to talk about “good choices”. We need to talk to staff about their worries and plan in cross-curricular work which allows for children to develop these important skills.

This is why I was drawn to Apps for Good for our year 6s. It allows you to develop a programme that covers many aspects of the new curriculum while giving the children a project to get their teeth into.

Apps for Good begins with developing an understanding of an app – a good starting point for many tech projects, as you will be surprised just how many apps children use. 

Even if they don’t have their own mobile devices and you don’t have any in school, Google Apps and Windows Apps provide many, and the children will often have experiences with the apps of their family members. 

It is also a great way to explore the internet, to discuss aspects of e-safety and to consider wider issues of privacy and data protection. The course encourages the children to develop an idea for an app from a problem-solving perspective – sharing talks from developers and thought-provoking ideas from others who have been successful. 

This approach, solution-focused as it is, develops an understanding of how technology has become so embedded in our lives. The children develop an awareness of what technology can do, of the difference it has made in our lives. One activity is called “What would granny do?” and asks children to consider how these problems would be solved from a non-technological point of view. There are also some basic coding and problem-solving games to play alongside this, a crucial part of the process as it develops a “logical” process for thinking around a problem.

Once ideas have been discussed we then begin to focus on one app, and think about how it could be developed. Tools are on offer which allow you to create a “wire-frame” and explore how the app will look and feel.

Naturally this process can sound daunting – after all the children will have some amazing ideas for apps and will want to try all kinds of crazy-sounding things! The key to moving forward is to use the experts that Apps for Good can share with you. 

Their network of volunteers will not only help you to navigate the idea generation, scoping and audience side of app development, but can also offer advice in using the various app development tools that you will have access too. 

This model, of industry specialists linking with primary schools, is a clear way forward – after all, primary schools do need some support in joining the dots of the new curriculum.  

  • Rebecca Stacey is deputy headteacher of De Beauvoir and Queensbridge Schools in east London.

Further information

  • Apps for Good is currently accepting new education partners for the 2014/15 academic year. For details and to apply, visit www.appsforgood.org
  • Details of the new computing curriculum can be found at http://bit.ly/1k8ylG1


This material is protected by MA Education Limited copyright.
See Terms and Conditions.

Comments
Name
 
Email
 
Comments
 

Please view our Terms and Conditions before leaving a comment.

Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
 
About Us

Headteacher Update is the only magazine delivered directly to every primary school headteacher in the UK. It is published six times a year, at the beginning of each term and half-term, to keep headteachers up-to-date with everything going on in primary education.

Learn more about Headteacher update

Newsletter

Register to receive regular updates on primary education news delivered free to your inbox.