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Computer Science

The school strongly believes that the students should be adequately prepared for living in the technological age. A curriculum has been developed with a focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration, which is essential to prepare the students for the future.

The library has additional computers for research and study and the Design and Technology department have been fitted with higher specification computers to allow the students to create more graphical work when required.

Key Stage Three

In Key Stage 3, the students follow a curriculum which allows them to understand how a computer works as well as developing their basic office skills.  The origins of information technology through to the familiar computers of today and tomorrow’s radical technologies will all be studied.

In Year 7, students concentrate on looking at themselves and how they consume, process and publish information.  They also develop their understanding of the risks relating to their use of technology and discover what safeguards they can follow to reduce this risk in the future. The theme for the year is understanding the past and considering how technology has changed over the years and consider how it has affected society. For example the students complete a project which requires them to talk with their parents or guardians about the technology they used at home when they were children and to reflect on how their family life is very different due to the technology in the home.

In Year 8, students concentrate on learning a large number of programming concepts using Snap,  as well as how computers store images and numbers. This work ends with the students creating an ambient computing device to help a teacher in a classroom. The students are also introduced to the Vex VR programming environment. The theme for the year is understanding the present.

In Year 9, students concentrate on learning about the future. The students revisit many of the programming concepts learnt in previous years and then build on them through the VEX IQ robotics environment. The students use a physical version of the Vex VR robot to learn about the problems programmers face when moving from the virtual world to the physical world. The students also consider the social implications of robotics and develop their data analysis skills.

Key Stage Four

In the last 50 years of the twentieth century, society saw a cultural shift away from manual work to more white-collar occupations. With the development of intelligent software it is likely we are to see many of these careers disappearing and the emergence of ones that require a person to analyse complex problems, plan and implement the programs to solve them.

Computer Science offers the student the opportunity to take the abstractions of Mathematics and bring them to life, to consider the large amounts of data created by the Science subjects, Geography, Sport and Finance and give them a meaning as well as the ability to develop a society changing product. As well as providing an excellent preparation for higher study and employment in the field of Computer Science, it will be excellent preparation for students who want to study or work in areas that rely on these thinking skills, especially where they are applied to technical problems.

This course has been developed to enable the student to learn how to look at a given scenario, to consider the issues appropriately and construct a solution that is well thought out and robust. It will give students a real in-depth understanding of how computer technology works. Students will no doubt be familiar with the use of computers and other related technology from their other subjects and elsewhere. Students who have taken a GCSE in Computer Science and who then progress to study the subject at A Level or university will have an advantage over their colleagues who are picking up the subject at these levels.

Due to the students studying Computer Science since Year 7, they have already had experience of 90% of the programming techniques specified in the GCSE syllabus. To allow the students to have a well-rounded understanding of the subject, the students study their new programming language, Python, using practical computing techniques. The department has designed the course so that the student has as many opportunities as possible to use their new theoretical knowledge in a practical situation.

Computer Science at KS5

Computer Science is a subject that impacts on our daily lives and has transformed society in the last 60 years. However very few people truly understand how this has happened.

The department offers a course that is an ideal complement qualification for students who wish to go on to higher education courses or employment where knowledge of Computing would be beneficial.

With its emphasis on general problem solving, algorithmic reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking, it is a good foundation for further study and offers students the opportunity to work in many of the projects being offered by the school. Also it gives you the chance to think about your future career from a more technological and data-driven perspective.

In Year 12, the students cover the syllabus in a very practical manner, which allows them many more opportunities to develop their understanding of the subject. This approach means that they are able to create a piece of coursework in Year 13, which is innovative and exciting to develop.

The course is not about learning to use tools or just training in a programming language. Instead the emphasis is on computational thinking. Computational thinking is a kind of reasoning used by both humans and machines. Thinking computationally is an important life skill. The study of computation is about what can be computed and how to compute it.

Summary of the AQA A level Computer Science Course

Paper 1

  • 40 % of A Level
  • 2.5 hours onscreen practical examination.
  • Skeleton program is given to student before the examination, which is used to answer short questions and to write a program in the examination.

Paper 2

  • 40 % of A Level
  • 2.5 hours written examination.
  • Compulsory short-answer and extended-answer questions.

Non- exam assessment

  • 20 % of A Level
  • The non-exam assessment assesses students’ ability to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve or investigate a practical problem.