New Computer Science Programme launched in Northern Ireland

A new education programme to help Northern Ireland primary school teachers support pupils with computer science has been launched by BT.

The Barefoot Computing Programming project was established in 2014 with the original aim to help primary school teachers in England get ready for the computer science element of a new computing curriculum. Originally funded by the Department for Education, BT took over the lead and funding for the project in 2015, helping to enable the resources and workshops to be available to all primary school teachers throughout the UK.

Barefoot supports primary educators with the confidence, knowledge, skills and resources to teach computer science. Resources include free lesson plans and local workshops, designed to support teachers in delivering the computing curriculum. Created by a panel of expert primary computing teachers, the resources illustrate how computing can be integrated into the primary curriculum.

The resources within the Barefoot Website were originally created to complement the National Curriculum in England: computing programmes of study. While the Curriculum for Northern Ireland is not completely compatible with the English Curriculum there are strong parallel features throughout all subject areas.

Speaking at a Stormont reception to celebrate academic achievement in our schools, Education Minister Peter Weir stated, “Whilst we are continuing to achieve academic success, too many children are left behind and underachieve educationally. This is something I am working to change and which is a key focus within the new programme for government.

“However there are also many successes in our education system that we need to acknowledge and build on to further improve outcomes in the future. The Chief Inspector in her 2014-16 Report acknowledged the many positives in our education and training system. We need to share the best practice widely so that other schools and pupils can benefit from increased achievement.”

The Northern Ireland Curriculum is underpinned by the development of skills and capabilities and incorporates ‘Cross-Curricular Skills’ (and ‘Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities’. There are six ‘Areas of Learning’ within the Northern Ireland Curriculum:

  • Mathematics and Numeracy
  • Language and Literacy
  • The Arts (including Art and Design, Drama and Music);
  • The World Around Us (including Geography, History and Science and Technology);
  • Personal Development and Mutual Understanding
  • Physical Education

UK pupils recently ranked 21st in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Programme for International Student Assessment, which is conducted every three years. Measuring how well students perform in reading, maths and science at age 15, Barefoot can be seen as a strong head start for pupils which will hopefully have a positive impact on future PISA results.

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