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Strangford College, Newtownards



Using ICT is one of the three Cross-Curricular Skills at the heart of the curriculum. Developing pupils’ digital skills encourages them to handle and communicate information, solve problems, pose questions and be creative in using digital technology. 

The emphasis in Using ICT is on pupils using digital skills appropriately while engaging in meaningful and purposeful activities. Ideally, teachers will provide a context of relevant, real-life situations when developing these skills. 

Teachers can measure standards of pupil competency in digital skills through the Cross-Curricular Skill of Using ICT. 

Teachers can use the Levels of Progression for Using ICT as a progression framework for all Areas of Learning. This can help pupils to develop their digital skills across the curriculum and acquire the skills relevant to other Areas of Learning. 

Assessing the Using ICT skills across the curriculum in a systematic and consistent way can help pupils to manage their own learning and to identify learning targets. It also helps pupils to connect learning from different areas of study. This will embed the independent learning that is desirable at Key Stage 4 and post-16. 

See Assessment and Reporting at Key Stage 3 for more details. 

The 5 ‘E’s 

The requirements for Using ICT in the Levels of Progression are set out under the headings Explore, Express, Exchange, Evaluate and Exhibit. 

Explore is about researching information, as well as using digital tools to investigate and solve problems. It ranges from teachers providing resources for pupils to pupils being more independent and discriminating users of ICT. This ‘E’ often forms the first part of work that a pupil engages in. 

There are two parts: 

  • access, select, interpret and research information from safe and reliable sources; and 
  • investigate, make predictions and solve problems through interaction with digital tools. 

Express is about pupils being creative and developing and presenting their ideas using text, sound, music and still or moving images. It ranges from pupils using simple text, sound or pictures to producing a multimedia product. 

Most Using ICT activities involve some Express skills. This is the ‘doing’ part of using software to make a product. 

Exchange is about pupils collaborating with others online to share and develop their ideas using safe and acceptable online behaviour. This can include sending an email, participating in a videoconference, contributing to an online discussion, creating a collaborative document or using collaborative online tools. Tasks with a strong Exchange focus can also make a valuable contribution to the richness of pupils’ experiences of Explore and Express. 

Evaluate is about pupils reflecting on the process and outcome of their ICT work. They think about how they carried out a task and how they can improve and refine what they did. Tasks with a strong focus on problem-solving can help teachers cover this ‘E’ more fully. Evaluate is likely to form part of an activity in Using ICT when pupils are required to refine their work during the process. 

Exhibit is about pupils managing and showcasing their work digitally. It ranges from printing and saving their work to organising and maintaining personalised digital areas. 

As pupils generate the volume of files from a range of activities that will make up their e-portfolio, they need to be able to manage the different file types and sizes. 

Covering the Using ICT requirements across the 5 ’E’s 

When taking an initial idea from concept to completion, pupils will typically follow a ‘plan, do, review’ process. At the planning stage, pupils should consider the audience and purpose for their work and investigate existing examples in a relevant area of practice. 

Explore and Express form the core of most activities that pupils will be involved in. 

Evaluate requires teachers to include opportunities for pupils to consider: 

  • what they have done; 
  • how they have done it; and 
  • what they can do to improve their product for the intended audience and purpose. 

They also need to have opportunities to Exchange (work collaboratively online) and Exhibit (showcase their work digitally). 


The 5 ‘E’s 

Thinking Skills and Personal Capabilities 


Managing Information 
Asking, Accessing, Selecting, Recording, Integrating, Communicating 
Thinking, Problem-Solving and Decision-Making 
Searching for Meaning, Deepening Understanding, Coping with Challenges 


Being Creative 
Imagining, Generating, Inventing, Taking Risks for Learning 


Working with Others 
Being Collaborative, Being Sensitive to Others’ Feelings, Being Fair and Responsible 


Evaluating Strengths and Weaknesses, Setting Goals and Targets, Managing and Regulating Self 


Managing Information 
Accessing, Selecting, Communicating 




The Levels of Progression for Using ICT include this statement: ‘Pupils should demonstrate, when and where appropriate, knowledge and understanding of e-safety including acceptable online behaviour.’ 

Schools should embed e-safety education into teaching and learning in the Areas of Learning through relevant topics. This will give pupils opportunities to develop their knowledge and understanding of e-safety. 

For more information on internet safety education for pupils, see the Department of Education’s article on Education in Safe and Effective Practices. 

The Department of Education’s 2016/27 circular on e-safety provides guidance about keeping pupils safe online and prioritising online safety within a school’s curriculum and safeguarding policy. 

CCEA's ScamWise resource has information and links that we think are particularly useful for this topic. 



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