Computer Science

Computer Science (Computing) is computers and computer systems.  Students will be learning how computers work, are designed, constructed, and used which in turn will help students pursue rewarding professions that emphasize multiple skill sets.

The core study of computing encompasses programming languages, data structures, algorithms and with the underlying science of information and computation.  The influence of computing has been profound in shaping the world in which we now live. The use of technology is almost universal among UK businesses, and increasingly businesses are adopting strategic technologies to deliver new opportunities.

The professional, scientific and technical sector has shown the largest increase of all broad industry groups between 2012 and 2013, with a particularly large increase for this sector in London.  Telecommunications has been the fastest growing part of the information economy sector; growing at 5.7 per cent per annum during the period from 2000 to 2013.

There are approximately 1.3 million people working in technology specialist roles in the UK, and technology specialist employment is consistently increasing, growing by 6 per cent (71,000) from 2013 to 2014 alone.  The UK is ranked second in the world for technological readiness by the World Economic Forum.

Ongoing developments in the sector include the government commitment of £1.2 billion to extend superfast broadband to 95 per cent of UK premises by 2017.

What are lessons like?

Busy but fun! You’ll learn loads of new stuff, combining the ‘theory’ with lots of practical tasks and challenges. So there’ll be lots of practical work on the computers, skills building, learning to program, doing the projects and conducting tests and experiments for your research. But there’ll also be quite a bit of extra reading and exercises to get your thinking skills sharp. We recommend Computer Science students spend 1-2 Hours Programming per week outside of timetabled lessons.

What can it lead to?

It’s no exaggeration to say the world runs on computers. They are everywhere: in homes, schools and offices but not just in the way you think. They are also embedded in all sorts of machines. Computers control airplanes, chemical plants, send rockets to space, control the central heating and make sure your car runs efficiently. As new things are developed, the world needs more and more people to research new ways of using computers to do the things they want. GCSE Computer Science (Computing) is a great foundation for going on to do Computer Science BTEC Level 3. And a BTEC in Computer Science is a great foundation for going on to study Computer Science at University. And that can open up a lot of possibilities! But you don’t have to want to go on to be a computer scientist to do this course – you might just be curious about learning a bit more. That’s why we are offering it. The skills you learn will be of enormous benefit in lots of your other subjects. Nicholas Negroponte – a famous man whose ‘One Laptop per Child’ project is trying to get computers to children in the developing world once said, “Computer programming is a powerful tool for children to ‘learn learning,’ that is, to learn the skills of thinking and problem-solving… Children who engage in programming transfer that kind of learning to other things.”

Skills involved:

  • Computational Thinking – Abstraction, Decomposition, Pattern Recognition, Drawing Algorithms
  • Problem Solving – Planning & Developing Solutions
  • Applying Logic – Working through problems step by step in a logical manner
  • Researching – Using the resources available in lessons
  • Collaborating – Teamwork

Key Stage 3

Year 7 – 2 lessons per fortnight
Year 8 – Computer Science & Digital Literacy delivered discreetly across the curriculum
Years 9 – 1 lesson per fortnight.

What will Year 7 syllabus cover?

  • Project-based approach
  • Investigative learning
  • Designing and developing simple games
  • Variables
  • Algorithms
  • Debugging
  • Bitmaps and graphics
  • Programming the Raspberry Pi
  • Consideration of app toys
  • Presentation of information

How can I support my child at home?

  • Please remind them to bring their headphones to school.
  • Provide access to a computer and secure access to the internet at home.
  • Register your child on this website to purchase genuine software applications at hugely discounted prices.
  • Large variety of video tutorials available illustrating the use of popular applications to complete everyday tasks, and to support the work covered in lessons.

Key Stage 4 – OCR GCSE Computer Science Course J276 – 3 Units

Students will learn:

  • Develop students understanding of current and emerging technologies and how they work.
  • Learn how algorithms are used in computer programs.
  • Understand how to become independent and discerning users of IT.
  • Acquisition and Application of creative and technical skills, knowledge and understanding of IT in a range of contexts.
  • Learn how to develop computer programs to solve problems.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of computer programs/solutions and the impact of computer technology in society.

Unit 1: Computer systems

(Examination in Year 11, 90 minutes, 40% of GCSE)

This unit covers the body of knowledge about computer systems on which the examination will be based topics include:

  • System Architecture
  • Memory
  • Storage
  • Wired and Wireless Networks
  • Network Topologies
  • Systems Security
  • Systems Software
  • Ethical/Legal/Cultural & Environmental Concerns

Unit 2: Computational Thinking, Algorithms & Programming

(Examination in Year 11, 90 minutes, 40% of GCSE)

  • Algorithms
  • Programming Techniques
  • Producing Robust Programs
  • Computation Logic
  • Translators and Facilities of Languages
  • Data Representation.

This component incorporates and builds on the knowledge and understanding gained in unit 1, encouraging students to apply what they have learned using computational thinking. Students will be introduced to algorithms, programming and problem solving, It is expected that students will use the skills gained in this unit to complete the Programming Project.

Unit 3: Programming Project

(Non-Exam Assessment lasting approximately 20 Hours, in Year 11)

The exam board will issue a range of assessment tasks each consisting of up to three sub tasks.  The set of tasks within the controlled assessment will provide opportunities for the candidate to demonstrate practical ability to use their programming skills.

Students will need to create suitable algorithms which will provide a solution to the stated problem then code their solutions in a suitable programming language.  The solution must be rigorously tested at each stage.  All code must be suitably annotated to describe the processes involved and the thinking behind them.  The test results will need to be evaluated against the original success criteria.  Work will be submitted in the form of a digital report containing annotated screenshots.  There are no restrictions on the programming language chosen but as this unit will follow on from the programming elements in unit 2 the same programming language may be used (Python).  The tasks are set so that they can be completed in a wide range of languages including those frequently used to ‘teach’ programming techniques.

The content of this qualification has been developed in consultation with academics to ensure that it incorporates the most up-to-date knowledge and skills to enable progression to higher education. In addition, employers and professional bodies have been consulted on the content development to corroborate its relevance with current industry practice used in computing and related occupational disciplines.

Key Stage 5 – BTEC Level 3 Computer Science

Who is this qualification for?

The Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Computing is equivalent in size to one A Level. It is aimed at post 16 learners who are interested in an initial introduction to study of the ICT sector at Level 3 alongside other fields of study, with a view to progressing to a wide range of higher education courses, but not necessarily in computing. It allows learners to gain fundamental knowledge and skills in computing from which they can progress to broader or more specialist study at Level 3. The qualification can be taken in combination with A Levels or other vocational qualifications to meet progression requirements.

What does this qualification cover?

The objective of this qualification is to provide learners with access to subject knowledge and skills in computer science and computer systems, enabling learners to progress to further study of the sector or other sectors.

Initially, learners study three core units:

  • Unit 1: Principles of Computer Science – (Synoptic)
  • Unit 2: Fundamentals of Computer Systems
  • Unit 7: IT Systems Security and Encryption.

The qualification includes a choice of optional units, including:

  • Unit 11: Digital Graphics and Animation
  • Unit 15: Website Development.
  • Unit 17: Mobile Apps Development

These units allow progression to a variety of degrees when combined with other suitable Level 3 qualifications.

What could this qualification lead to?

When taken alongside other Level 3 qualifications such as A Levels, this qualification provides an opportunity to progress to higher education to study a BTEC Higher National in a computing discipline, a degree in a computing discipline or a degree where computing-related skills and knowledge may be advantageous, such as business studies.

This qualification carries UCAS points and is recognised by higher education providers as meeting admission requirements to many relevant courses. As the mandatory content is equivalent in size to one A Level, higher education representatives have confirmed that it is appropriate to allow learners to choose their optional units from a wide range so that they can explore their own choice of areas for further study. The qualification supports entry to, for example:

  • BSc (Hons) in Food Science and Technology
  • BSc (Hons) in Information Management for Business
  • FdSC in Business Computing
  • BA (Hons) in Accounting and Finance
  • BSc (Hons) Business Information Systems.

This qualification will support professional careers in roles such as business information management, technical service support, marketing support and business systems security.

How does the qualification provide employability skills?

In the BTEC National units there are opportunities during the teaching and learning phase to give learners practice in developing employability skills. Where employability skills are referred to in this specification, we are generally referring to skills in the following three main categories:

  • cognitive and problem-solving skills: use critical thinking, approach non-routine problems applying expert and creative solutions, use systems and technology
  • intrapersonal skills: communicating, working collaboratively, negotiating and influencing, self-presentation
  • interpersonal skills: self-management, adaptability and resilience, self-monitoring and development.

There are also specific requirements in some units for assessment of these skills where relevant. For example, where learners are required to undertake real or simulated activities.

How does the qualification provide transferable knowledge and skills for higher education?

All BTEC Nationals provide transferable knowledge and skills that prepare learners for progression to university. The transferable skills that universities value include:

  • the ability to learn independently
  • the ability to research actively and methodically
  • to be able to give presentations and be active group members.

BTEC learners can also benefit from opportunities for deep learning where they are able to make connections among units and select areas of interest for detailed study. BTEC Nationals provide a vocational context in which learners can develop the knowledge and skills required for particular degree courses, including:

  • reading technical texts
  • effective writing
  • analytical skills
  • creative development
  • preparation for assessment methods used in degrees.