This scheme is challenging, but the programs are suitable for learners aged 13-16. It is important that there is progression from Key Stage 3 which is one reason why subprograms are introduced from the very first program. Doing more of the same reinforces what has already been taught, and is valuable for strengthening neural connections, but we also encourage students to come out of their comfort zone.
The programs include all the commands students are expected to know for the major examination boards at GCSE. The pitch is at a standard commensurate with, and in some cases just above GCSE level study. The individual subprograms are similar to problems students might be expected to solve in practical or written examinations.
For challenge, it is important that students face problems they can’t solve immediately and need to apply computational thinking techniques. Students should become comfortable with the feeling of being stuck. Instead of giving up they need a growth mindset, and teachers can encourage this.
Practice programs are identified with one, two or three stars. One-star programs are the easiest and three-star programs are the hardest. Students should undertake programs that will stretch them without being too daunting.
Teachers should adopt what is known as a “high performance learning strategy”. The idea that all students are capable of solving programming problems, but some may need more support to do so. Increase the scaffolding, don’t decrease the challenge. Teachers need to be aware of the risks of a self-fulfilling prophecy, first discovered in the 1960s. A prediction that causes itself to become true. Learning can be limited by thinking that students are not capable of hard work when actually they are. Don’t mistake laziness, lack of a growth mindset or lack of confidence for a lack of ability. All students are able and need to be encouraged to rise to the challenge. We only fail when we give up.