Computer Science

Being safe online is an issue that has come to the forefront of social and political debate and is now a vital skill needed to navigate the virtual world.

Year 7

We aim to prepare our students for the risks they face when engaging with computers of any sort; whether it be phones, computers, gaming consoles or any other type of online device. Students are taught how to protect their personal data; health and safety rules in place when using ICT; what to do about cyberbullying; how to identify online scams and copyright laws that must be observed. Hopefully, this will enable them to be smart, savvy, responsible users of the internet.

Our year 7 computer science students are moving towards the use of computer technology in a way that is far more sophisticated than was previously taught at key stage 3 level. In order to keep pace with the ever-evolving demands we have of computers in our life, the emphasis is now on teaching students how to program using code. In year 7, we build on prior knowledge from KS2 and introduce students to microbits. These programable devices allow the students to see real world hands-on programming and the affects their code can have on physical devices. Our block programming and algorithm design software packages teach pupils the basics of computational thinking in a way that is visual, interactive and fun. Following on from this, Flowol helps to embed the basic principles required to program computers using more complex programming languages.

Learning the basics about hardware and software teaches students the fundamentals of what makes a computer and helps pupils identify the role of peripherals in the input and output of information. We are very fortunate to have full class sets of computer components and full computer base units that the students get to work with. We also touch on different ways of networking computers. A topic that we explore much further in the later stages of the curriculum.

Year 8

Withing the first few weeks back from the summer term our year 8 students work on skills based activites to ensure they are ready for the curriculum ahead before tackling our new Computer Networks unit. While investigating the various different layouts and network topologies the students are shown the range of different networking hardware required to create a computer network and shown what would happen if we didn’t have these networks. We delve into the Internet and how the world wide web interact with each other and show the planetary network connections before discussing what future networking will look like with the Internet of Things.

The use of databases is explored using Microsoft Access, a key skill in data management. Pupils are expected to sort, search, and filter information within a database in a way that is accessible and organised. Students are taught the skills to eventually create their own databases ensuring that they have a sound understanding of technical features such as data types and primary keys. We then follow this up by introducing SQL and showing how it is used within industry to manage large scale databases.

Our Year 8 students are then given an introduction into Data Representation on digital devices. Having seen the physical hardware earlier in KS3 they learn how our Binary 0’s and 1’s are used to represent all that they see, do and hear from their comptuers.

Following on from visual and block programming, the students move on to text based programming and enhance their programming techniques in python. These skills and their enhancement are done each year enabling students to create their own projects and ensure they are ready for the larger exam tasks in KS4. Finally in Year 8 students combine their creative side with their computational minds with App Design. Students are given an brief with a theme for the year and are shown how to create a basic app. Working on cloud based applications this allows the students to continue working on their app outside lesson time and possibly entering competitions with their creations.

Year 9

Data representation, a topic that is briefly studied in year 8, is now explored in much greater depth. The module gravitates around 5 key areas; Binary, Hexadecimal, ASCII, sound and images. These areas provide detailed insight into how humans have managed to teach computers to break down large and complex information into simple numbers, which can then be used to execute a command. Mathematical skills certainly come into play in this module.

Students revisit and look to master Python, a high level programming language with vast and far reaching capabilities. Pupils build on their fundamentals taught earlier on now working on problem solving, libraries, sub programs and mini challenges. Algorithms and pseudocode is an area of study that goes hand in hand with Python. Students will be expected to use both algorithms and pseudocode to plan each step of their python program. This ensures they have a clear grasp of what their program is about; what problems it wishes to solve; detail any problems they may face and check to see if their final program meets their initial success criteria.

The hardware, software and logic module aims to provide an analysis of how CPU’s work, referred to as the brain of the computer. The fetch-execute-decode cycle will be explored by pupils to investigate how it is used. Many other crucial parts of a computer will also studied in greater depth including Primary and secondary storage to provide students with a good understanding of how computers work.

Connecting computers remotely has its dangers, namely hacking. Students are taught how these vulnerabilities can be used by hackers to intercept data. However, pupils will also learn how computers can protect themselves from such vulnerabilities by learning about different types of encryption. Network security is an area of study that expands on the networking module, delving deeper into threats such as malware; phishing scams; DDOS attacks and preventing hacking by using such things as firewalls and anti-virus software. All such methods are a vital safeguard in ensuring that data is kept safe and secure from prying eyes. Finally in Year 9 we work on a multimedia portfolio. An array of different design software packages and new design technology are used to create spectacular digital and print artefacts for current events. Past examples have included mashed up film releases, Parklife, Halloween, new rides at theme parks and new exhibits at zoos. All of which need marketing products.

Year 10 and 11

At GCSE level we follow the OCR Computer Science J277 Specification through which the students are given the opportunity to :

  • understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation
  • analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including designing, writing and debugging programs
  • think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
  • understand the components that make up digital systems and how they communicate with one another and with other systems
  • understand the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society

apply mathematical skills relevant to Computer Science