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System Life cycle

The system life cycle is a series of stages t or solution, and is a feature of many areas of school work. ICT is no exception.

Time and money can be wasted if a system is developed that doesn't work properly or do exactly what is required of it.

A new system is much more likely to be successful if it is carefully planned and developed.

Particularly at KS4, the System Life Cycle underpins a significant part of any assessment scheme, so it is helpful if we can introduce the concept as soon as appropriate.

During early years this could be implicit, relying on individual and group verbal feedback and discussion during a task.

Later though, the process may become more explicit, and it may be felt desirable to introduce to a number of examples, referred to here as ‘key tasks’, where each stage is recorded as evidence of the level achieved.

The nature of these tasks, and the method of recoding the pupil’s ICT attainment in terms of the overall process as well as the final outcome - is left to the judgement of each school.

The judgements we make about pupil achievement cover the process as well as the final output.

“In making a secure judgement about the stage that pupils have achieved, we must record the stages through which pupils worked and the modifications and decisions they made in order to achieve the final outcome.”

Key features of Progression

• Stage 1 – Explore options and make choices, developing familiarity

Stage 2 – Purposeful use of ICT toward specific outcomes

• Stage 3 – Develop ideas and solve problems

Stage 4 – Combine and refine information from various sources and for an audience. Interpret and consider plausibility

Stage 5 – Combine the use of ICT tools showing consideration of overall structure. Critically evaluate fitness for purpose

• Stage 6 – Develop integration and efficiency of ICT solutions

• Stage 7 – Scope, design and implement ICT systems


To raise awareness of the ‘System Lifecycle’ approach to planning, implementing and evaluating ICT, it is suggested that a poster similar to this be exhibited in classrooms, and referred to and an aide-mémoire by both students and teachers.

It is hoped this would be particularly useful in stimulating discussion before, during and after ICT activities - either discrete ICT or during cross-curricular usage.

Attention should be drawn to the ‘Fit for Purpose’ logo - asking the question of the children: “Is what you have produced fit for the purpose for which it was intended?” If not - why not?

As well as generally improving standards of ICT, it will also better equip children for secondary school, where a more analytical/critical approach to ICT work is often required for success.


We also have an example planning sheet which may be useful for teachers of older children - which could become particularly handy if attempting a 'Key' or 'Rich' task for assessment purposes


Education Improvement Service
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