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Computer Science

Subject Leader: Mr B. Creasy

The Computer Science curriculum is designed to equip all students with general computational thinking and programming skills during KS3 and specialist skills and knowledge for those opting to study GCSE Computer Science at KS4.

In KS3 Computer Science is a component of the Technology carousel. During these lessons students learn about hardware, software, computational thinking and introductory coding concepts. Computational thinking and coding skills are introduced in Y7 using Scratch and progress into Year 9 when all students begin to programme using Python. The programming module in Year 9 acts as an introduction to GCSE Computer Science helping students to make informed options choices.

All students have the opportunity to study GCSE Computer Science during KS4. Whilst studying this course students learn subject specific skills such as:

  • Constructing and interpreting algorithms

  • Writing and testing computer programmes written in pseudocode, Python and Structured Query Language (SQL)

  • Converting between number bases (base 2, 10 and 16)

  • Adding, multiplying and dividing binary numbers

  • Constructing logic circuits and truth tables

  • Lossless data compression techniques

  • Relational database design and development

Computer Science also develops students’ problem solving, resilience, discipline, independent learning and collaborative working skills. Computational thinking skills are developed by using a wide range of paper and IT based problem solving tasks. 

Programming skills are developed using the KPRIDE model:

  • Keywords - improve vocabulary by identifying which line number key python concepts can be found

  • Predict - improve comprehension by estimating what the code will do before running it

  • Run - improve understanding by comparing predictions with what the code actually does

  • Investigate - feed curiosity by tweaking the code

  • Debug - improve resilience by fixing mistakes

  • Extend - develop high level skills by enhancing programmes

This model introduces key concepts through worked examples; encourages students to make and test hypotheses; solve problems and extend algorithms with increasing levels of independence.

Theory topics are sequenced so that students are initially exposed to general concepts such as binary digits, character sets and network topologies. Once students have established strong foundations, they progress onto more complex topics such as representing sounds, Huffman Coding and TCP/IP 4 Layer Model. When new topics are introduced, a concept map is used to make explicit links to prior knowledge to help students make sense of new related information. Retrieval practice is used during starters and plenaries to help students embed and retain knowledge, including using a concept map to identify and explore links between topics.

During lessons students complete practical problem solving or coding ‘skill builder’ activities weekly in order to develop their skills and knowledge throughout the course. Students typically record key knowledge using structured materials such as analysis grids, flow charts and practice exam questions. Most of students’ classwork is recorded in bespoke workbooks which aid schema development, retrieval and revision.

Through studying GCSE Computer Science, students gain knowledge and skills which serve them well as IT users post-16. Additionally, this course provides a clear progression route onto Level 3 sector relevant qualifications or apprenticeships. As few schools offer GCSE Computer Science, our students stand out from their peers when progressing onto sector relevant qualifications. Computer Science can help prepare students to study Electronics and Engineering post-16. Beyond this, studying Computer Science opens up a range of high demand careers in areas such as software development, cyber security and database management.

The subject content contained within our curriculum is fully compliant with the statutory content outlined in the Key Stage 3 and 4 National Curriculum, particularly for students opting to study GCSE Computer Science. To further develop all students’ computational thinking skills, a series of problem solving activities are being developed for delivery via tutor time.

If opting for GCSE Computer Science, all students learn all of the topics covered by the specification. Students who excel in Computer Science have further opportunities during lessons to ‘Extend’ their pseudocode algorithms and Python programmes by incorporating high level skills such as subroutines, validation routines, error handling and connecting to external files.

Students are encouraged to develop employability skills such as problem solving, independent learning and collaborative working via flipped learning activities.

We ensure that Year 7 effectively builds upon content delivered during Key Stage 2 by building on students’ experiences of using coding tools such as Scratch and Kodu.

The Computer Science curriculum has links with the following subject areas:

  • ICT - cyber security, computer laws, hardware & software, cloud technology and coding.
  • Design Technology - iterative design process, flowcharts, project planning and problem solving.
  • Textiles - environmental issues (recycling materials in particular).
  • RE - ethical issues.
  • PE - use of technology to monitor health & fitness.
  • Science - continuous and discrete data.
  • Maths - continuous and discrete data, logical operators / basic inequalities, boolean expressions.
  • Complementary Studies - Legal issues including Data Protection Act / GDPR
  • French - Impacts of technology on society (mental health, body image etc).

We develop students’ Cultural Capital whilst studying Computer Science by entering national coding competitions (such as the Matrix Challenge), engaging with national raising participation programmes (Amazon Future Engineer) and welcoming guest speakers to lessons including a regional Cyber Crime Police Officer and our network manager.