Scratch Programming

The project will evaluate the impact of teaching pupils programming in ‘Scratch’. Scratch is a free online programming environment that was developed by MIT Media Lab. It enables children to programme by dragging and dropping code elements instead of typing them. Scratch is already used in many schools as an aid to computing lessons. Teaching coding enables children to learn through experimentation, mastering concepts such as logic and consequences. This project would aim to develop a module of pupil material and assessments for teachers to guide the teaching of programming. 

Why are we funding it?

There is promising evidence of computer programming improving pupils’ problem solving, logical thinking, planning, and understanding of cause and effect. It is also argued that high quality teaching in computer programming can lead to improved attainment in other areas, particular maths. The new curriculum is placing increasing emphasis on pupils learning computer programming,with these programming skills seen as particularly important in the future jobs market. Thousands of teachers are now using Scratch so there is a good case to test its impact and explore the most effective ways of teaching it.

How are we evaluating it?

The project is being evaluated by a team from Sheffield Hallam University, led by Mark Boylan. The project will involve a short phase of development work to define the materials and training, and pilot these in a small number of schools. The main trial will be structured as a randomised controlled trial involving 100 schools. Pupils’ ‘computational thinking’ ability will be measured after one year, and the impact on maths attainment will be measured after two years.

When will the evaluation report be due?

The evaluation report will be published in Spring 2018.