The Computer Science and Informatics department believes that every student should have the opportunity to develop a higher level of “Digital Wisdom”. This means the curriculum has been designed to allow to develop skills and a technical understanding in 3 key areas:
– ICT capability
– Computer Science
– Electronic Engineering
The department encourages the students to not only know the theory for the examinations but be able to use this knowledge in a practical way. Physical Computing is at the centre of the work completed in all three Key Stages and the students have the opportunity to learn how different devices can connect together in a Network. The students are actively encouraged to use the research area set up in the main Computer Lab.
In Key Stage 3, the students can be involved with the Year 7 Lego Robot Wars competition in March or the Vex IQ and EDR groups run after school on a Wednesday. In Key Stage 4, the students can learn how to collect Environmental data and analyse it.
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. Internet access is obtained through networked broadband connectivity, provided by Kent Educational Network (KEN).
The school has encompassed the most up to date educational theories on technology in the classroom. Through the use of Interactive Whiteboards, projectors in classrooms and laptops for teachers, the staff has been able to enhance their students’ learning process and achieve higher standards.
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 students start to write with simple computer programmes, using a Sense Board, and develop their knowledge of programming to create a simple smart device.
In Year 8, students concentrate on looking at an individual user and how they interact with computers in a mobile environment. They also look at how different devices interact with one another and how the Internet works.
In Year 9 students will concentrate on looking at the growth of the electronic society. This includes looking at ubiquitous computing and its implications on society as well as learning the practical side of developing a smart house system. The students will also have the opportunity to learn about the concept of ‘big data’ and develop their skills in analysing data sets of different sizes.
Key Stage Four
In Years 10 and 11 all students have the opportunity to take GCSE Computing as an option. The curriculum has been developed to allow the students the opportunity to learn the syllabus in a more practical approach. This includes using the different libraries that the programing language, Python, offers to understand the concept of the Internet of Things.
The Computer Laboratory is accessible by students from 8 am until the start of the school day at 8.40 am and after school until 4.45 pm. An area of the room has been developed into a research and development area for students to develop their own learning using smartphones, Sense Boards, Raspberry Pis, Net Gadgeteer kits and Lego NXT Robots. All students are expected to be good network practitioners and adhere strictly to the rules identified in the “Responsible Network Use” contract.
Recently, the teaching room has been moved closer to the DT department and has been designed to be an environment where research and practical activities can take place.
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 assist 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; this includes introducing an extra strand to the course. In this new strand they will learn about how to collect data as well as developing their skills in analysing it. This will involve them learning some practical electronics to create an Environmental data collection device using an Arduino board.
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
- 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.
- 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.