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Rickmansworth Park Junior Mixed and Infant School

Computing - Helen Smithson



How long have you been the subject leader?

I am proud to have been Computing subject leader at Rickmansworth Park School for over ten years.

What are your strengths as Computing subject leader?

My first experience of Computing was at Manchester University in the 1980s, when I took a programming course as part of my Economics degree. ‘The’ computer took up a complete building and was programmed using hole –punch cards. Yes, I am that old!

I continued to be interested in Computers and had an early Amstrad at home. I remember when our school had one PC , which small groups of children were allowed to visit and use as a special treat. Things have moved on a lot from then!

I am very proud to have qualified as a Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) ambassador.

I am a member of numerous computing teachers’ associations, including Barefoot Computing and Computing at School which provide ideas and resources which have been used in the planning. I have been recommended as a consultant adviser for other Herts primary schools by the Herts for Learning subject team leader. A recent County advisor praised the leadership of Computing in his report.

Give examples of the impact you have had on the quality of teaching and learning/ standards?

The Computing curriculum changed in 2014 to reflect what the Government saw as a deficit in skills- school leavers could use programs, but not create them. The new curriculum was much more focused on on-screen and physical programming instead of learning how to use programs, such as art, photography and Microsoft Office Products.  I wrote a specific curriculum for our school, which ties in with many of the topics studied in geography, Art and History. Each class learns programming skills and our students leave for secondary school at a very high level compared with their peers.

My CEOP qualification means that our school is always ahead in terms of online safety. All students have at least one lesson of online safety per half term and I deliver an annual information session to parents, as well as a number of email bulletins.

I introduced the ‘Crumble’ sets to school, to fill a gap in the Computing and D&T curriculum. KS2 students can now make an object in D&T and program it to work in a number of different ways. We are one of a very few number of primary schools who do this.

What are the keys strengths in this subject?


Our school has one specialist teacher to plan and deliver the curriculum from Y1-Y6, which leads to the best possible learning outcomes for the children.

We have a school-specific designed curriculum which is reassessed and updated every year to complement the wider curriculum in all year groups. 

I am a member of a number of professional organisations and attend regular CPD to ensure curriculum coverage and assessment is in line with other schools and that I am up to date with new online safety and curriculum developments, moderation standards and technology.

What areas for development have you identified in this subject?


Some of the technology in school is now becoming old and unreliable. I am working closely with the School Business Manager to budget for replacements.

The use of a specialist teacher could lead to the de-skilling of other members of staff in this subject, so I intend, as much as possible, to keep colleagues in the loop.


How do you know how well pupils are achieving?


Monitoring and moderation shows children are achieving above the national standard and the local Secondary schools report that our children leave us at a very high level of attainment compared with other local schools. Attendance on courses also confirms that our standards are very high. We track the children’s progress throughout their time at school and intervene if they fall behind the expected levels of progress.

Pupil voice questionnaires are very positive and show that the children enjoy the subject.

How does the school meet the needs of all groups within this subject?


Careful planning and preparation of lessons ensures that the needs of all children are met.   Extension activities are always available for the pupils who are identified as gifted and talented. Children with no access to technology at home tend to underachieve compared to other groups in KS1, but the school ensures that these children have access to the Computing suite at breaks and lunchtimes, to ensure that they are not at a disadvantage. Children with English as an additional language receive additional support to access the curriculum. There is no gender gap in attainment.

What knowledge do Governors have about your subject? How have they been involved in your subject?

I give a bi-annual Subject Leader presentation to the Governors and discuss the subject with them at Open Days. The subject frequently appears in the School Development Plan and Head’s Reports to the Governing Body.