Has it worked so far?


All of my students did their primary education prior to the new Computing National Curriculum. They are all ‘disaffected’, they all have Special Educational Needs (at the very least arising from their Social, Emotional and Mental Health Difficulties) and many of them have missed large portions of their education. So I make no apology for the fact that my lessons may seem to be a bit primary school-ish for Secondary Alternative Provision.

Yes, I should probably be using Python with my older students instead of Scratch, but that will come. My number one priority is to engage them without letting software and hardware get in the way. I want them to see that Computer Science is something that they can all do and enjoy, it is not a subject just for the ‘boffs and geeks’.

Does  it work? Has it been successful?

I would say a definite yes. There is still disruption, disengagement and damage, but these are students with some quite severe behaviour problems and several of them have to be regularly restrained by staff to stop them hurting others or themselves.

Given the context of our school the improvement in engagement and attitude since using the Raspberry Pi has been dramatic. There are a tiny minority who are not engaging positively with the work, but for 90% of our students deployment of the Pis has been a great success.

For example:

In the past ‘X’ had been very negative towards me, he threw chairs at me, swore and used to regularly tell me how much he hated me. In the very first lesson of using the Raspberry Pi ‘X’ was totally enthralled, he wanted to know everything about where he could get one, the cool cases and how to set up the microSD card. He made me write down the website address of Pimoroni and plans to buy some of his own kit.

This enthusiasm has continued. I haven’t had a single incident of negative behaviour since using the Raspberry Pi with X. His attitude towards me has completely changed. Unfortunately, outside of Computing, X has continued to engage in inappropriate behaviour, calling staff the C word, assaulting other students, etc. But within computing he is now enthusiastic, focussed and willing to experiment and make mistakes.

This is the most extreme example but I have seen an improvement in engagement across our whole student body with the exception of about 3 or 4 students who are disengaged across the curriculum. Even these students have shown an interest at times.

Another student ‘Z’ is nervous, socially anxious and suffers from extremely low self-esteem. He has found working with the Pi to be a great outlet for his hidden creativity. During the first ‘Flashing an LED’ lesson he was genuinely overjoyed to get the LED flashing and asked to film it to show his mum. I have seen his confidence and self-belief grow and he regularly comes up with new and interesting ideas for mini-projects.

Requests to get their mobiles out to film their work have been frequent. Who would have thought that students with such huge problems including drugs, crime and violence would get so much pleasure and sense of achievement from making an LED blink ever more quickly or waving their hand in front of a PIR sensor to trigger a scream?

Below I have included a link to my resources so far. I hasten to add that this is very much a work in progress. I am a behaviour specialist who is new to teaching Computing and I don’t have any specialist qualification (other than attending the wonderful Picademy). So any constructive feedback would be most welcome.

The worksheets are mostly adapted from some of the materials at http://www.raspberrypi.org whereas the whiteboard presentations are mainly my own work. I do hope someone out there finds them useful 🙂 Clickable link here:


The presentations use ActiveInpire from Promethean. The personal version is free and is available here:

ActivInspire UK download page

I will blog again with some observations on the particular challenges of using Pi within Alternative Provision 🙂

This is one student’s FART FX BOX!