Resource Material for the IT PGCE:
planning 'finding out' lessons at KS 3 and 4

This is the page for the session in which you write lesson plans involving the creation of databases for pupils in both Key Stage 3 and 4.

Learning objectives About this session Products of the session
At the Institute    
Task Timetable Links to other sessions
In the classroom    
Misconceptions Classroom examples Teaching point
Other Resources    
DfEE Schemes of work Software links and tutorials Books/Papers


Learning objectives

The learning objectives for this session are that by the end of it you should:

  1. be able to write lesson plans to develop IT capability through pupils constructing a database;
  2. know the major misconceptions and difficulties pupils face when constructing databases in Access;
  3. understand better the idea of progression in IT capability.

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About this session

In this session, you will work in groups to write two lesson plans to develop pupils' capability in the 'Finding out' strand of the IT National Curriculum through constructing a database. One of these plans will be for Key Stage 3 and the other for Key Stage 4. Each group should also construct the database(s) that form the basis of these lessons (or the sequence of lessons of which the one planned forma part), and record any difficulties they had in doing this.

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Products of the session

This is a link to the index of the lesson plans written by the cohort.

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At the Institute

The task

Each group should write a lesson plan for a Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 class to develop ICT capability in the 'Finding things out' strand of the IT NC through pupils constructing and using a database (on a topic you choose). The purpose of writing two lesson plans for different ages is to allow a discussion of progression in this aspect of IT capability.

In planning the lessons you need to be clear about:

  1. What the pupils have done on this area before and what it leads to (use the ICT NC and DfEE SoW for KS3 and the Edexcel GCSE syllabus for KS4).
  2. What they should know, understand and be able to do as a result of the lesson (i.e. the learning objectives). For KS3 see the objectives section of unit 5 of the DfEE SoW; for KS 4 see the Learning Outcomes part of the Edexcel GCSE syllabus - pp10-14.
  3. How these objectives relate to the development of IT capability (i.e. the ICT NC and the GCSE syllabus) as well as the database skills listed below.
  4. What difficulties you feel children will have in understanding the concepts involved (see 'Misconceptions' below for some ideas) and how you will address these.
  5. What practical difficulties children will face in implementing their ideas in Access (use your experience of building databases here) and how you will address these.
  6. How you will know which pupils have attained each of your learning objectives (assessment).

At this stage, matching your activities to points 2 and 3 taking account of points 4 and 5 is the key issue, together with ensuring that the activities are planned in such a way as to make the organisation and management of the classroom as easy for you as possible. Matching activities to 6 is something you will need to pay attention to in time, but probably later.

Database Skills for KS3: Database design; record; field; data type; data capture and entry; searching

Database Skills for KS4: Data capture and entry; data validation; searching; making relations

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The timetable

9:30-10:00 Introduction to the session
10:00-2:45 Writing lesson plans and producing exemplar products
2:45-3:30 Sharing of lesson plans and discussion of issues raised

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Links to other sessions

This session is most closely linked to the ones which immediately precede it (on evaluation database software) and follow it - where you start to plan the implementation of a database for organising lesson resources and activities.

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In the classroom


Here you will find some of the most common misconceptions pupils (and others) have about issues concerned with databases. In considering these, it is important to distinguish between the misunderstandings people have and things that 'go wrong'.

Difficulties - things that 'go wrong'

These commonly include: creating expressions using logical operators; creating (sub)forms; making queries do what you wanted; creating many-many relationships; using a table to create calculated data and put it in a record. People also find difficulties when they create a main table before they considered the data as a whole - they subsequently found that the data they wanted was not 'in the right place' and that they were duplicating it.


Common misunderstandings include:

Understanding relationships - 1-many, many-1 and (especially) many-many; creating a different field for each element of a lookup table (rather than one field with a number of records); confusing table and forms.

Confusing the length of a field with the size of the box used to display it. You can see this when, if the whole of a field does not display, the pupil changes the field length rather than the size of the 'box' on the form.

Misunderstanding logical operators when using them in searches - especially AND and OR. For example, if you want everyone in the class to stay behind you could say "I want all the boys AND girls to stay behind". There is research evidence that a number of pupils use this (inclusive) use of AND in their searches.

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Classroom examples

Elizabeth Doyle has produced a scheme of work for a database project at KS4.

Andrew Cousins provided a useful set of worksheets and forms to help pupils at KS4 structure their database design, construction and evaluation. The worksheet covers aspects of the whole database project and there are associated forms for table, query, form and report design.

The McWeeney 'Relational database' book has similar blank design templates - but for use at 'A' level.

McWeeney's ICT GCSE book (chapter 6); Student workbook (from page 11- ); associated database files; and practical course book (from page 38-) also contain relevant examples of classroom activities.

See also the 'Handling Data' page on DigitalBrain's London Grid for Learning site, and decide how much of this is realy applicable to KS4.

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Teaching point

In their IT education, pupils will do much work by projects which last for much more than one lesson - just as you will have an extended period of time to complete your Assignment 1 projects. One significant problem with extended projects is trying to endure that pupils use all the time available to them effectively and that each lesson has a point. To help overcome these problems you should get the pupils to plan their work and set (realistic) intermediate targets for each lesson - and monitor their progress towards these targets. This will also help develop in pupils the ability successfully to plan and time a project - which is an essential component of its success. See Andrew Cousin's worksheets for one way to help achieve this.

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Other Resources

The DfEE Schemes of Work

You should look at the following units of the DfEE schemes of work

Key Stage 2: unit 3C, Introduction to databases; unit 4C, Branching databases; unit 5B, Analysing data and asking questions;

Key Stage 3: unit 5 Data : designing structure, capturing and presenting data; unit 11 Data : use and misuse.

For whole class projects see unit 12 Systems - integrating applications to find solutions and for further work on planning, analysing, documenting and evaluating see unit 13 Control systems.

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Helen Smith's chapter 'Do electonic databases enable children to engage in information processing?' in 'Using Information technology effectively in teaching and learning' edited by Bridget Somekh and Niki Davis (Ioe library reference Loyx SOM).

Also see the references in "Databases in schools - some issues and approaches" (written by Graham Warner).

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This page is maintained by Tim Brosnan. Please send any comments to:
Last updated on 22nd October 2001.