Established Leader – b) SEND & Inclusion - Primary Leadership Journey

By Phil Wickins posted 19 days ago


This is the second incremental blog in the Established Leader section of the Primary Computing Leadership Journey, talking about SEND and Inclusion. Please use the infographic below to navigate to all areas of the journey:

SEND was right at the top of the list when we asked which areas of teaching computing you felt you needed the most support and CPD in, during the Big Primary Computing Leadership Survey:

The Teach Computing Curriculum from the NCCE is a fantastic place to start in terms of a free, up to date and research led scheme of work, but how do we adapt it for our SEND pupils? How can we use adaptive teaching and assessment for learning to cater for this vulnerable group?

These questions and more are covered for subject leaders in the free, whole day face to face course: Leading Primary Computing Module 3, although there are many more resources to consider…

When we teach computing, we can sometimes offer activities that involved exploration, free play or ‘tinkering’ to use a more computational thinking term (see my adaptive teaching blog, if you haven't already!). However, when we have pupils with lower starting points, particularly our SEND pupils, we very much lean towards tighter control, targeted tasks which can become very prescribed and instructional or even copy/ mimic based. Is there any scope to broaden the range of scaffold for our SEND pupils? Can we allow a little (or a lot) more exploration and creativity into their activities and allow them the independence to make mistakes and see the consequences? I know it’s difficult and time consuming and doesn’t always suit the learner, but it’s certainly something to consider. 

I remember a study where the pupils who were given one to one support become more and more dependent on them and less and less able or willing to attempt any tasks without their support. Do we do that in computing, for fear that SEND pupils simply cannot access the learning? Or can we find a way to allow them the same freedom and challenge (albeit in a different context/ style) that our expected and exceeding pupils enjoy? Please let me know what you think in the comments…

There is a fantastic online course (pre made, learn at your own pace) specifically on SEND; Creating an Inclusive Classroom: Approaches to Supporting Learners with SEND in Computing and also this course specifically designed to support autistic children: Computing for specialist teachers of autistic students. In terms of inclusion, the NCCE also run a free whole day face to face course called Inclusive Computing in Primary School

Catherine Elliott, who is one of the specialists for SEND and Inclusion for the NCCE, wrote these fantastic blogs on adapting the Teach Computing curriculum for SEND learners:

Adapting the Teach Computing Curriculum - Data & Information

Adapting the Teach Computing Curriculum - Creating Media

Adapting the Teach Computing Curriculum - Programming

Adapting the Teach Computing Curriculum - Computer Systems & Networks

In addition, if you haven't spotted them, the updates in the KS1 and KS2 teacher guidance for the TCC of strategies for adapting the TCC for SEND.

She also wrote this report: Computing in Special Educational Needs & Disabilities Settings – the current picture in Egland 2018

There are some SEND resources available online, for example SEND Computing, on the Barefoot Computing website and also the CAS include website, which features a range of inclusive materials including image-supported glossaries.

Don't forget that in amongst all of these resources and activity ideas, quality first teaching has one of the biggest impacts on our SEND learners. Strategies such as PRIMM and others mentioned in my adaptive teaching blog are great for scaffolding programming tasks and provide ways of gradually removing those scaffolds too. Computing is an area where learners with SEND can really excel and thrive, and ensuring that they have the key digital skills to access technology is an important factor in encouraging greater independence and access to the curriculum.

In addition to this, the NCCE is also championing the i-belong program; encouraging girls in computer science, in secondary and primary. There are some great primary resources mentioned on the Belonging page and also a free remote live course: Empowering girls in key stage 2 computing. Although girls are often equally engaged in primary computing, the research shows that we need to establish a sense of belonging in the subject in KS2 in order for them to consider the subject at GCSE and beyond.

Do you have any great resources or approaches that work with your SEND pupils? Stories of how learners from vulnerable groups have thrived in computing? Or do you have any issues that you just can’t seem to get around? Please let us know in the comments!

Next blog: Key Stage Transition
Previous blog: Adaptive Teaching

CQF: If you have signed up to complete the Computer Quality Framework, then any activity undertaken in this incremental section of the Leadership Journey would count towards to the 'Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and SEND' dimension of the CQF.