Responsible digital citizens who acquire workplace-ready computing skills for future careers.
Computer Science and IT Curriculum Rationale
The KS3 curriculum is designed around some of the core principles of the Computer Science A Level and GCSE: Computer Systems, Data Representation, Basics of Code, Project completion, and Cyber Security. These core principles also feed into the L3 IT course offered in Year 12 for those that don’t sit the GCSE in Computer Science or wish to study a more practical course following on from the GCSE. This course is focused upon IT in the workplace, Cyber Security and Project Management. The first unit of work is very similar to a significant part of GCSE Computer Science.
Early on we use the rationale that for students to access all the curriculum and to benefit the school, we teach beyond the curriculum for the majority of the time in Year 7 to give students the wider IT skills they require to be good digital citizens. We get students set up on the school network and we introduce them to several key systems used within the school. We also teach a unit of work on using Microsoft Word for an appropriate audience and a unit of work on the basics of Microsoft Excel. We also introduce students to using HTML to create a web page based upon E-Safety concepts. Little of the Year 7 content is related immediately to GCSE but without we would enable the students to transition to secondary school and it would be to the detriment of other departments in the school. The most important part that we link to GCSE is beginning to build the programming skills of the students and we do this through the use of Turtle inside the Python programming language. However, everything we do is all in line with guidance from the National Curriculum for computing at KS3, and it opens further possibilities that allow students to make rapid progress in Year 8.
Computer Systems and Data Representation form a key part of the curriculum. They are introduced in Year 8, revisited in Year 9 and then taught in Year 10 for the GCSE. The spiral design allows us to build on concepts in order to give students a thorough grasp of how computers function and how the design of hardware underpins how we represent data through binary. The programming concepts that were introduced in Year 7 and re-visited in Year 8 and in Year 9, the emphasis is because half of the GCSE is based upon programming concepts and there is an absolute necessity that A Level students are capable at solving a computational problem through a coded solution. This is something we must build over the five-year duration.
In Year 8 and 9 we build on the skills established in Year 7 and we have the following priorities:
To be able to design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems
To be able to program in a minimum of two programming languages to solve a variety of computational problems.
To have an understanding simple Boolean logic [AND, OR and NOT] and some of its uses in circuits and programming. To understand how numbers can be represented in binary and be able to carry out simple operations on binary numbers.
To understand the hardware and software components that make up computer systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems
Understand how instructions are stored and executed within a computer system. To have an understanding how data of various types (including text, sounds and pictures) can be represented and manipulated digitally, in the form of binary digits.
To be complete projects using and combining multiple applications to achieve challenging goals.
To be able to create, reuse, revise and repurpose digital artefacts for a given audience, with attention to trustworthiness, design and usability
To be able to understand a range of ways to use technology safely, respectfully, responsibly and securely, including protecting their online identity and privacy; recognise inappropriate content, contact and conduct, and know how to report concerns.
During Year 9 students are given advice as to their suitability for Computer Science at GCSE level and the first two phases of the year have material that is intentionally chosen to act as a ‘taster’ for GCSE level content so that students are able to make an informed choice.
In KS4, to meet the needs of the GCSE, we alter the priorities established in KS3 to:
To be able to understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation.
To be able analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including designing, writing and debugging programs
To be able to think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically.
To understand the components that make up digital systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems.
To be able to understand the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society
To have the ability to apply mathematical skills relevant to Computer Science. Students must be able to calculate using multiplication to a good level without a calculator. All calculations are completed in lesson without a calculator so that students can understand how to answer exam style questions.
These priorities get deepened as we go through KS5 and we expand and develop the concepts learned at GCSE as well as adding the additional requirements for A Level study. For those students that chose the Level 3 IT Cambridge Technical course, we build on GCSE content and adapt that into workplace ready skills. The focus swaps onto how IT is used in the business world and culminates into two significant pieces of project work that is akin to running your own project management business.
The curriculum is very new, at GCSE a new specification was introduced again two years ago, and the adjustments and changes introduced in the school only finally took shape over the course of last year, however the Units that have not proved to be as effective or rewarding for students last year are being reworked / replaced in order to bring maximum benefit to the progress of students.
The curriculum is constantly being adapted in response to how students at the later stages of their school career are developing and in reaction to results attained. For example, in Year 8 a Unit of work with Microbits was replaced by a Games making Unit with Scratch so that the work can be tied into creating a project (a softer skill that requires planning for when students reach GCSE and A Level.) In Year 9 a project is being reworked to allow separate paths for students that have chosen Computer Science as an option and those who need practice on Microsoft Office skills for other GCSE subjects. Also, in Year 9 a unit on AI and Machine Learning has been introduced as it is introducing students to concepts that are developing in the current work environment and this area has been a popular area of research for A Level study in the past two years. Many students have chosen the topic area as the basis of their A Level project.
- Mr C Harris (Head of Department)
- Mr R Manton
- Mr JC Morris
The department consists of two ICT Suites, each containing 32 ‘Thin Client’ Pcs.
Students also have access to other ICT facilities in other locations around
the school. Each student is also encouraged to purchase a portable device in
order to ensure network access as and when required.
Students have opportunities to develop knowledge of theoretical concepts as well as practical-based problem solving skills in a variety of ‘real-life’ situations.
Every pupil has access to a PC throughout their taught curriculum time.
Key Stage 3
ICT is compulsory at Key Stage 3, and all students are given the opportunity to experience
much of the wide range of software that is available to them throughout their
time at SGS and beyond. Students are also introduced to the new ‘Computer
Science’ initiative, and begin to learn basic programming concepts and ways in
which ‘logical thinking’ can help in the world of ICT through the programming
interface ‘Scratch’. These programming skills are developed further through the
use of ‘languages’, such as HTML coding (including Dreamweaver), JustBASIC,
LOGO (in conjunction with Lego) and eventually developing ‘Apps’ via an online
App developer. Throughout KS3 these skills are applied to solve given problems
and are linked to the STEM curriculum that students begin in Year 8.
Key Stage 4
Students follow the Cambridge International Examinations iGCSE course. This is a two year, linear course which is examined at the end of Year 11. The course is separated into two ‘modules’, with the practical skills counting for 60% of the final mark, and the other 40% covered by the written theory paper.
Key Stage 5
Students follow the AQA ICT GCE ‘A’ Level course. This course is split into four modules, two of which are examined at the end of Year 12 and two at the end of Year 13. The course has a number of practical requirements but is dominated by theoretical concepts such as ‘how organisations use ICT to gain competitive advantage’.
Students have access to the ICT Suites before school, during lunchtime and after school. They are encouraged to work independently to solve problems and develop the skills that are required to be a successful ICT practitioner in the business world.