Secret Agent Man


"As always, should you or any of your I.M. Force be caught or killed, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions."

I taught Year 1's first block of Computing last half term and for the second year running my Secret Agent unit went down a storm.

The inspiration for the unit came from seeing many of our EYFS pupils in the ICT suite trying to swipe and press the screen, few realising that it was having little effect. These digital natives were so used to control being at the tips of their fingers they had not yet developed the ability to use a mouse.

So I decided part of the first block of Computing with the Year 1 pupils would be skills that would help them through the next 6 years of school and beyond. The problem was finding a hook that would allow me to essentially teach typing. After a bit of pondering I thought I would introduce each skill as a mission and if pupils successfully complete all missions then they would qualify as a Level 1 Secret Agent.

The missions were planned out, first a test of letter recognition to familiarise pupils with the keyboard, then onto skills such as text manipulation through highlighting and editing size, colour and font.

The first session came and I explained that before we could type anything pupils must check all their equipment is working. They can do this by using the top secret code phrase, "The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog". The children found this phrase hilarious but we then went through the alphabet crossing out the letters in the phrase and they loved that each letter was covered. So off they went 30 pupils typing out the Top Secret phrase so engrossed in their work to make sure their computer had all the right keys you could have heard a pin drop (if not for the tapping of keys).

After a few weeks the pupils had developed several new skills and risen to the challenges I had set them. Pupils could identify words in text related to size and change the size of highlighted text, similarly with colour related words. Others even changed fonts depending on the words used. Lucinda Hand is now known as the "wormy one".

Knowing that desktop computers will still be used in offices and workplaces for the foreseeable future, equipping the pupils with these skills is as an important part of digital education as knowing how to use a tablet computer.

It has felt good to blog about this as it has been on my mind for a while, shame it will self destruct in 10 seconds.

Author Profile

Philip Nottingham

Philip Nottingham

Innately curious, occasional genius. Educational consultant who loves tech, toys and all things geekery.

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