Has literacy become the new coding and coding become the new literacy?

In the world of English primary education, a strange transformation is taking place. On the one hand the best computing science schemes of work are promoting computational thinking, the critical thinking skills that are important for determining purpose, effect and outcome of coding projects. These thinking skills are given equal importance alongside the grammar of coding, sequence, selection, repetition and variable use. It has even become fashionable to not talk about coding but programming which we understand as computational thinking plus coding skills. Good assessment in computing science concerns primarily judging the outcome of projects and asking if the algorithm or program meets the needs of its intended users. Coding grammar becomes important as we start to ask questions about efficiency of algorithm or code but it is a secondary concern after purpose and effect.

Meanwhile at the ages of 7 and 11, when pupils writing is being externally moderated, the purpose and effect of pupil writing is being given less and less weight whilst the inclusion of grammatical elements is given primacy. In computing science terms this is like asking students to direct Bee-bot from the farm to the pond using variables or selection when simple sequence is all that is needed.

I am rightly proud that my pupils learning computing science are able to use their computational thinking skills and their knowledge of coding grammar to create a variety of exciting real projects as computing science becomes a second literacy.

I assume that those overseeing the development of literacy in the English curriculum are equally proud of reducing literacy to coding in its narrowest definition.