Our New KS3 Computing Curriculum

Like many ICT teachers I am currently making preparations to become a ‘Computing Teacher’. With this comes the responsibility of planning a new Computing curriculum in Key Stage  3. I am very excited about making these changes and putting my Computing Degree into practice! Luckily I have been making some preparations for this already in my schemes of work in Scratch and Kodu, along with the basic introduction in PC Basics.

In my school we also have another change from September in that for the first time in a few years Year 7 will be having discreet ICT Computing lessons. Up until now this has only been delivered in a cross-curricular fashion since the introduction of our transition school. I’m excited about being able to impact upon all three years of key stage 3 and get them programming from a younger age.

For now I am mostly going to focus on Years 7 and 8 so they will have started to embed those skills ready for when we fully change to Computing in 2014. I’m also hoping to incorporate an OpenBadge system for each topic too (there are some samples of my badge designs below).

So here is my big plan:

Computing at Hartsdown

Example of some of our year 7 badgesYear 7

  • Initial IT/Computing Assessment – This is a short couple of activities in order for us to gain a baseline idea of what the students are capable of and allocate rough levels, previously we carried this out at the start of year 8.
  • Creating Games in Kodu – This will move from Year 9; I have generally found that younger students seem to pick up the skills in Kodu much quicker (and seem more interested) than the older ones.
  • Digital LiteracyThis will be a significantly condensed, adapted and re-branded version of my current Skill Building curriculum (currently reserved for low ability year 8 students)
  • Ingenious Inventions – In this scheme of work students will design and create a virtual new invention that will model a physical system to solve a real-world problem. They will use Scratch 2.0 to create a simulation of the invention.
  • PC Basics – This is currently taught at year 8 and designed to teach students the basics of computers and how they work.

Some of our Year 8 badgesYear 8

  • Python Magic – Following my completion of the Python course on Codecademy I’ve now compiled some resources to deliver this to Year 8. I can see why so many schools have decided to follow the Python-route, it is a simple language to get the hang of and enforces good programming practices.
  • PC Basics Extended / Computing Theory (Have yet to think of a quirky name!) – This will cover the main theoretical aspects from the new Programme of Study.

The next four  topics are already delivered in our Year 8 curriculum and  will be kept as part of our curriculum offer. The first three listed should cover the sections on undertaking creative projects and creating and using digital information:

Year 9

This year we have been piloting (loosely) some of the tasks from OCR’s Entry Level Computing course. This needs some tweaking but we shall probably run with it again next year.

I also devised some resources around using Kodu to explore and ‘colonise’ Mars. These cover some of the functional skills tasks so will probably introduce this from next year for all groups too.

I believe our year 9 students are dropping down to one lesson per week from September so between some of these newer resources and some of our old content there should be enough to cover most of the curriculum here. I will make some more changes when Computing is introduced formally in 2014.

26 thoughts on “Our New KS3 Computing Curriculum

  1. Lee Springett

    Hi Nicki,

    Excellent post and resource as always. We started running our transitions year this year at KS3 and have developed a unit that builds upon your PC basic(network tapology, different OSs, internal componenets,etc) and covers digital literacty tasks as well. Would happily send over the resource if you would like.

  2. Nicki Post author

    Hi Lee, thanks for the comment. I’d love it if you could send over the resource, that would be really helpful! If you could send to my email address found on the contact page on here that would be fab!

  3. Akin

    Your reources are fantastic especially your PC Basics which has helped me to add another dimension to my KS3 with digital ICT & Computer Science evoluting in the ICT curriculum.

  4. andrew walmsley

    Hi nicki

    Have u got the resources from lee?

    We looking at teaching computing/cs and would like to pick the brains of people that have already started down the road.

    Email is

  5. Jamie

    Hey Nikki,

    Awesome resources, thank you.

    I can see from the thread above that Lee mentioned he was going to forward you some resources which touch on the PC Basics.

    Could you please forward onto me either yourself or Lee?

    Would be a great help as we to are piloting some of the Computing units ready for when it formally starts in Sept.

    Many Thanks,

    Jamie x

  6. Ivan Lopez

    We are planning to start teaching Computing on September 2014 and found your website while researching for a SoW we could follow. Great resources. Thank you!

  7. Nicki Post author

    Thanks for your comment, I’m working on more resources so check back regularly as I’m always adding new stuff!


  8. Babitah

    I have a few questions about the OCR entry level Computing. Is 1 hour a week enough to complete the course in Y9. Do the students get a certificate when completing the qualification? I am planning to introduce this course and any advice will be appreciated.

  9. Nicki Post author

    Hi, I would say one hour a week would be enough. The course is fairly straight-forward. I’m now in a different school where we have two lessons per week so will probably be able to squeeze in some other stuff too now!

  10. Kevin

    This is great Nicki,

    thank you very much for posting! had been playing with Kodu and looking for a good way to use it!

    One thing you might want to consider adding is construct 2- very versatile html 5 game creation software(also it’s free, which never hurts) – https://www.scirra.com/construct2 – has worked very well with my year 8’s and 9’s

    But yeah, thanks again brilliant resources, look forward to trying some of these with my classes!

  11. Babitah

    Can you plse let me know what the students receive? Any advice or resources you can share will be appreciated.

  12. Nicki Post author

    All of my resources can be found in the resources section of this website. I’m currently developing more in relation to the new curriculum but many (like the Entry Level) are still in development and being tweaked. If you register for the course with OCR they will receive an Entry Level Certificate.

  13. sue

    Hi Nikki
    You’ve put a lot of work into these resources, How you’ ve likened the human body to a computer is very creative. I have a problem I hope you can help me with- You say you have a baseline assessment at the start of year 7? I’ve tried out a few different ICT baseline assessments over the years, mostly Microsoft office based, but am struggling with designing one with the new computing assessment criteria from the CAS website in mind- any suggestions?

  14. Nicki Post author

    Hi Sue

    I’m actually working on a new one myself for the new computing curriculum so once I’ve done it I’ll post it on here and on the CAS site. We intend to use the CAS progression document to assess our students. So far I envisage it will include the use of the Light Bot game to test out their logic skills along with a bit of IT, to see if they know how to make documents suit an audience etc. and then write an evaluation. I might try to incorporate a quiz element to find out what they know too by perhaps using Google Forms.


  15. Sue

    Thanks Nikki
    That really helps and gives me a direction to head towards – including the light bot element is a great idea, (as well as a google form quiz), it makes it more fun for students – as a non specialist in charge of a team of non specialist its also I’m something familiar with due to the hour of code, so I’ll take another look at it. Much appreciated.
    I was wondering if you had heard of the following – scirra.com, a game making resource called Construct, or Tynker -and if so have any plans to use them at Key stage 3? I’m currently trying out Khan academy with my year 9 students, whom on the whole seem to be enjoying it, and Touch Develop with my year 8.

  16. Nicki Post author

    No problem Sue. I’ve heard of those other game making tools but have learnt that using too many tools spreads the knowledge a little thin so am just going to focus on Kodu and Scratch for making games as I think they have more scope and are both completely free. I was thinking about including Touch Develop too but I think for now I’m going to stick with Python for the text-based programming and throw in a little JavaScript with year 9 when we come to web development.

  17. james

    Hi Nicki,

    I’m interested in your Ingenious Inventions SOW. I was wondering if you had the layout for the SOW work or any resources available. In the process of developing schemes for the new curriculum and you have some creative ideas.

  18. Nicki Post author

    Hi James
    I haven’t really done anything on that SOW yet, it will probably be a summer holiday job now as I’m currently still working on some of the others. I’m also waiting for a licence for Mimic creator in Flowol as I’m thinking of using this so the children can design inventions with sensors and motors etc. Will update on here once it is done!

  19. Alicja

    You are my inspiration in putting your knowledge into action at a school – Thank you for sharing

  20. Phillip

    Hi Nicki

    Great resouces! You have given me so much inspiration and guidance.

    I notice that the section Initial IT/Computing Assessment does not have any documents attached. Do you have any ideas on what we could do in year 7 for a computing baseline assessment at the start of the academic year?

    Many thanks for your support!

    kind regards

  21. Nicki Post author

    Hi Philip, thanks for your comment. I will be putting together an assessment to use comprising of a few things. Possibly using the Light Bot game as that can get quite tricky and is a good way of testing how well they will adapt to programming, especially if they get through the levels using subroutines with no help! I will probably also put together a survey they fill in to check their knowledge in some of the other areas too. And also give them a more traditional “digital literacy” task to complete as well. I haven’t planned this in too much depth yet though (it will probably be a summer holiday job!)

  22. Kate

    Hi Nicki,

    I’ve found the information and ideas on your site very useful – thanks for sharing!

    Like Philip above, I would like to know how you have in the past/plan to in the future do baseline testing at KS3. I can see that you are developing new things over the summer but wondered what you have done in the past and how well it worked? We are looking to do some KS3 baseline testing from Sept but we haven’t done it before and are not sure of the best way to go about it.

    Thanks 🙂

  23. Nicki Post author

    Hi Kate
    Thanks for your comment. I’ve been thinking about this very point a lot this week. In the past I have got them to design and create an interactive PowerPoint to give information about animals in the zoo with two slides aimed at adults and two aimed at children (this tested their ability to target specific audiences), they then had to evaluate their work against given criteria and share it with me electronically. Alongside this I had created a questionnaire in Google forms which tested their knowledge about the various ICT strands. I was thinking of doing something similar for Computing but it hasn’t got much further than the initial planning stages yet . . . It’s something I’m hoping to work on a bit more next week.
    Nicki 🙂

  24. tash

    Hi, is there any way you would consider sharing the badges- they are really cool! Thanks

  25. Nicki Post author

    Thanks Tash, I’m happy to share them. I’ll look at doing this when I update my resources over the summer. Thanks!

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