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Computer Science

Why we teach Computer Science

Computer Science encompasses what we used to teach as Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as well as computational thinking skills and digital literacy.  Also included is the effect of changing technology on society and keeping safe while using technology, especially on-line.

We aim to enable students to use technology safely and competently in the workplace, in their daily lives and to assist in their learning.

Skills learned include how to use everyday software packages such as word processing and spreadsheets in an efficient manner to solve problems.  Computational thinking teaches students to think logically and to sequence components of a problem in order to solve it.  We teach students that these skills can be applied to other problems, both in other school subjects and in real-life.

Knowledge learned includes the history of computing including its relevance to the development of modern society and its contributions to other fields.  Students learn about how computer systems work, including hardware and software, and how embedded systems pervade their everyday lives.  This learning helps students to see the potential careers for them and how their learning can be applied in the world of work.  Good practice in the use of technology also includes learning about the laws relating to its use.

Understanding how technology can be used, both for good and for bad, enables students to critically review their own interactions with technology and other users.  Students will be able to take steps to protect their identity on-line and interact with other people in a safe manner, knowing what actions to take if they have concerns about the safety of themselves or others.

In Key Stage 4 students choose one of two paths – either to take the study of computer science further as a GCSE subject or to follow our core provision, taught through cross-curricular links and a series of collapsed sessions.

By the end of Key Stage 4 we aim to have enabled all students to possess the basic skills that will enable them to function in the modern digital environments they will encounter in life, as well as the capacity to positively engage with future developments we cannot yet foresee.

KS3 Computer Science

Overview of content

Over the course of years 7, 8 and 9 students will learn how to safely and effectively use the internet, social media and other web based services. They will advance their coding skills in both block and text based programming environments studying Scratch and Python. Students will learn about the basic components of all computers and how the internet works. They will also develop strong skills using Microsoft Office products such as Word and Excel to support learning in other subjects. They will learn about digital media processing of images and video and begin to use modelling tools to create 3D structures.

Yr 7 Programme of Study

 

Unit Title

Description

Lessons

Autumn

Introduction to school network

This unit introduces the students to the school network, our tools and Office 365. We also cover using the iPad for school, basic safety and complete any computerised assessments.

2

Clear messaging in digital media

This unit is designed to build upon learners' experience in key stage 2. It requires learners to use a range of different skills across several pieces of software. Learners will work between different applications to create a poster and slides on a given theme.

6

Networks to Semaphores

This unit begins by defining a network and addressing the benefits of networking, before covering how data is transmitted across networks using protocols.

6

Spring

Programming essentials (1)

This unit is the first programming unit of KS3. The aim of this unit and the following unit (Programming II) is to build learners’ confidence and knowledge of the key programming constructs.

6

Modelling data with spreadsheets

Introduce your learners to the wonderful world of spreadsheets and the concept of cell referencing. Ask them to collect, analyse, and manipulate data, before turning it into graphs and charts.

6

Summer

Programming essentials (2)

This unit begins right where ‘Programming I’ left off. Learners will build on their understanding of the control structures’ sequence, selection, and iteration (the big three), and develop their problem-solving skills.

6

Using media to support a cause

Students will develop a deeper understanding of information technology and digital literacy by using their skills across the unit to create a blog post about a real world cause that they are passionate about and would like to gain support for.

6

Yr 8 Programme of Study

In Year 8, the focus switches to the mechanics of computing while introducing more advanced programming topics. These include mobile app development and an introduction to using Python. We also continue our digital media strand by creating illustrations using vector graphics.

 

Unit Title

Description

Lessons

Autumn

Vector graphics

This unit offers learners the opportunity to design graphics using vector graphic editing software. By the end of the unit learners will have produced an illustration, a logo, or some icons using vector graphics.

6

Layers of computing systems

This unit takes learners on a tour through the different layers of computing systems: from programs and the operating system, to the physical components that store and execute these programs, to the fundamental binary building blocks that these components consist of.

6

Spring

Developing for the web

In this unit, learners will explore the technologies that make up the internet and World Wide Web. Starting with an exploration of the building blocks of the World Wide Web, HTML, and CSS.

6

Representations – from clay to silcon

Introduce binary digits to learners as the symbols computers use to perform these tasks and focus on the representation of text and numbers.

6

Summer

Mobile app development

Today, there’s an app for every possible need. With this unit you can take learners through the entire process of creating their own mobile app.

6

Introduction to Python

This unit introduces learners to text-based programming with Python. The lessons form a journey that starts with programs involving input and output, and gradually moves on through arithmetic operations, randomness, selection, and iteration.

6

Yr 9 Programme of Study

Key features in Year 9 are the introduction to physical computing using the BBC micro:bits, an introduction to 3D modelling and finally more programming development in preparation for any student who is considering taking the subject to a higher level.

 

Unit Title

Description

Lessons

Autumn

Python programming with data

This unit introduces learners to how data can be represented and processed in sequences, such as lists and strings. The lessons cover a spectrum of operations on sequences of data, that range from accessing an individual element to manipulating the entire sequence.

6

Creating animations

Films, television, computer games, advertising, and architecture have been revolutionised by computer-based 3D modelling and animation. In this unit learners will discover how professionals create 3D animations using the industry-standard software package, Blender.

6

Spring

Data science

In this unit, learners will be introduced to data science, and by the end of the unit they will be empowered by knowing how to use data to investigate problems and make changes to the world around them.

6

Representations – going audiovisual

In this unit, learners will focus on making digital media such as images and sounds, and discover how media is stored as binary code.

6

Summer

Introduction to cybersecurity

This unit takes learners on a journey of discovery of techniques that cybercriminals use to steal data, disrupt systems, and infiltrate networks. The learners will start by considering the value their data holds and what organisations might use it for.

6

Physical computing

This unit applies and enhances the learners’ programming skills in a new engaging context: physical computing, using the BBC micro:bit. In the first half of the unit, learners will get acquainted with the host of components built into the micro:bit, and write simple programs that use these components to interact with the physical world.

6

Transitional curriculum

The above curriculum plan details what would happen in a normal academic year. A transitional curriculum is in place for this year as we move students across to the new plan. The descriptions for the units remain the same as described above.

 

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Lessons

Autumn

Introduction to our computer systems (Microsoft Office & Go4Schools)

Refreshing knowledge of our computer systems (Microsoft Office & Go4Schools)

12

CATS Testing

Digital Literacy

Introduction to Scratch

Problem solving

Computational thinking

Bebras Challenge

Hour of Code

Spring

Introduction to Microsoft Office

6

Programming essentials (1)

Introduction to Python

6

Summer

Networks to Semaphores

Representations – from clay to silicon

Introduction to cybersecurity

6

Programming essentials (2)

Layers of computing systems

Creating animations

6

Assessment in Computing

We use a combination of different assessment techniques including quizzes, short written examinations and practical projects. At the end of each unit students will receive a grade and feedback to let them know where they are at. This will be recorded on Go4Schools.

Homework in Computing

Homework will usually take the form of a short multiple-choice quiz designed to assessment knowledge, detect and correct misconceptions and inform the planning of future lessons. There will be homework set every week and this will be recorded on Go4Schools.

All the homework is marked automatically, and students provided with feedback immediately. For any incorrect answers, students will receive feedback explaining why that answer was wrong.

Homework is scheduled to appear at 3:00 PM on the day it is set and is due at 8:30 AM on the day of the lesson. Homework can be handed in after that until 8:30 PM on the day it is due, however this will be considered late. Any homework not completed by this time will be marked as incomplete.

All quizzes will be set on Microsoft Teams which students can access suing their iPad or by going to https://teams.microsoft.com/ and logging in with their school account.

Resources for parents

We aim to use free and open-source software for our curriculum which means that students can download the same tools we use in school at home. Most of these are supported on multiple platforms as well. The software we currently use:

  1. Mu Editor – A Python development environment (https://codewith.mu/)
  2. Blender – Professional grade 3D modelling and animation software (https://www.blender.org/download/)
  3. Audicity – Sound editor (https://www.audacityteam.org/)
  4. Graphics Image Manipulation Program – Image editor (https://www.gimp.org/)
  5. Microsoft Teams (https://teams.microsoft.com/)

This list will be updated as we install more software to support our curriculum.

KS4 Computer Science

AQA GCSE Computer Science (8525)

Overview of content

In Computer Science we aim to teach students an understanding of how computers work, from the functioning of the major hardware components, through computational thinking concepts and into using coding to write programs that perform specific functions.  We also teach about the role of computers and technology in the world of work and in society, including how they have changed our world, and how to ensure that they keep themselves safe.

Programme of Study

Year

Half term

Topics studied; skills and knowledge

How this will be assessed

10

Autumn - 1

Theory: Data types, binary numbers and addition, real world computing, reliability, environmental issues.

Practical: Introduction to python, maths and string operations, selection, iteration (FOR and WHILE).

Weekly homework tasks, some of which will be coding. Students can download python for free at home (available for PC and Mac).

Quick quizzes in class.

Autumn - 2

Theory: Legal considerations, algorithms, flowcharts, intro to pseudocode.

Practical: consolidation of python through a series of challenges

Weekly homework tasks, some of which will be coding. Students can download python for free at home (available for PC and Mac).

Quick quizzes in class.

Spring - 1

Theory: Structure charts, software development cycle

Practical: use of functions and procedures for efficient coding

Weekly homework tasks, some of which will be coding. Students can download python for free at home (available for PC and Mac).

Quick quizzes in class.

Spring - 2

Theory: More on pseudocode and algorithms, hexadecimal and ASCII

Practical: embedding more complex maths operations, coding of complex solutions using functions and procedures

Weekly homework tasks, some of which will be coding. Students can download python for free at home (available for PC and Mac).

Quick quizzes in class.

Summer - 1

Theory: Sound and image representation, dictionaries

Practical: External codes sources and their uses, databases

Weekly homework tasks, some of which will be coding. Students can download python for free at home (available for PC and Mac).

Quick quizzes in class.

Summer - 2

Theory: Testing, types of testing

Practical: use of text files as data stores (read/write)

Weekly homework tasks, some of which will be coding. Students can download python for free at home (available for PC and Mac).

Quick quizzes in class.

Year 10 exam (date tbc)

11*

Please note this year 11

(2021-22) is different, due to Covid lockdowns.

Autumn - 1

Theory: ordering (sorting) and arrays, validation, error handling, structure charts, flowcharts, pseudocode, revision of topics covered in year 10

Practical: consolidation of programming skills in python

Weekly homework tasks related to the in-class learning.

Quick quizzes in class.

Autumn - 2

Theory: revision of topics covered in year 10

Practical: building larger programs using functions and procedures, text files etc.

All material covered in year 10 and up to this point may be included in the mock GCSE exam in November.

Spring - 1

Theory: Computer structure and components: CPU, memory.  Networks – types and protocols. Client-server relationships.

Weekly homework tasks related to the in-class learning.

Quick quizzes in class.

Spring - 2

Theory: web applications, databases, external code sources, logic gates.

Weekly homework tasks related to the in-class learning.  These are likely to be old exam questions in order to practise answering.

Quick quizzes in class.

Summer - 1

Consolidation of all topics of the syllabus, exam technique

Weekly homework tasks related to the in-class learning.  These are likely to be old exam questions in order to practise answering.

Quick quizzes in class.

Summer - 2

Period of Formal Examinations

 

Homework

We aim to set weekly homework tasks.  These may be in the style of question-answer, or the completion of research prior to a lesson on a specific topic, or a practical programming task.  Our programming (coding) is undertaken in python, a free piece of software available for students to download at home: Download Python | Python.org.

While the homework may be an hour of set work, we expect students to be exploring the world of coding for themselves as well.  Regular practice of python coding will very strongly assist your child in their learning of computer science; coding can be likened to throwing and catching a ball when younger – we all ‘drop the ball’ (make coding mistakes) but we need to become resilient and try throwing again (find the error and fix it).  The more students practise, the better they become at coding.

How it is assessed

Computer Science is assessed by means of two written exams sat at the end of the course.

Each paper is 1 hour and 30 minutes long.

Each paper is worth half of the total marks for the course.

Learning outside the classroom

Students learn best by practising their skills; please encourage them to download python and ‘fiddle’ with it.  In this way they learn resilience, as well as lots of skills related to the coding itself.

Parental support and extension

Please encourage your child to complete all their homework, as this is an integral part of the learning.

Everybody is somebody