Computing

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Computing

Computing at Dormston aims to provide pupils with the skills and knowledge for an ever-evolving Digital future. It is an innovative subject designed to challenge and inspire pupils to think logically, critically, and creatively to solve problems. The curriculum is designed carefully to provide a balance of academic and practical elements to empower pupils to become motivated, independent learners. Computing is not just about ensuring pupils achieve academic success, but also building strong transferrable skills essential to world where digital literacy is crucial.

The department boasts 3 dedicated classrooms each with 28 or more computers. The school benefits from having 2 full time network managers who keep the system operational and up to date with the latest software to support learning.

An after school digital creators club lets pupils experiment with all different aspects of computing. Whilst mainly focussed on developing pupils’ love of, and ability to program, the club also gets pupils looking at different types of computer systems (raspberry pi, retro computers) as well as game design and creation.

KS3

In Key Stage 3, pupils are taught a wide range of topics which cover the three main strands of Digital Literacy, Information Technology and Computer Science. As part of a 5-year curriculum, elements of GCSE Computer Science are introduced as early as Year 7 to stretch and challenge pupils. The scheme of work uses units developed by the National Centre for Computing Education (NCCE) and are outlined below:

  • “Collaborating online respectfully”: This unit has been designed to ensure that learners are given sufficient time to familiarise themselves with the school network. It also allows the teacher to discuss appropriate use of the school network, and to update and remind learners of important online safety issues. Whilst completing this unit, learners will also learn how to use presentation software effectively. In terms of online safety, this unit focuses on respecting others online, spotting strangers, and the effects of cyberbullying.
  • “Gaining Support for a Cause”: During this unit, learners develop their understanding of information technology and digital literacy skills. They will use the skills learnt across the unit to create a blog post about a real-world cause that they would like to gain support for. Learners will develop software formatting skills and explore concerns surrounding the use of other people’s work, including licensing and legal issues.
  • “Modelling data”: The spreadsheet unit for Year 7 takes learners from having very little knowledge of spreadsheets to being able to confidently model data with a spreadsheet. The unit uses engaging activities to progress learners from using basic formulas to writing their own COUNTIF statements. This unit will give learners a good set of skills that they can use in computing lessons and in other subject areas.
  • “Networks: from semaphores to the internet”: This unit begins by defining a network and addressing the benefits of networking, before covering how data is transmitted across networks using protocols. The types of hardware required are explained, as is wired and wireless data transmission. Learners will develop an understanding of the terms ‘internet’ and ‘World Wide Web’, and of the key services and protocols used. Practical exercises are included throughout to help strengthen understanding.
  • “Programming Essentials in Scratch Part 1”: This unit is the first programming unit of KS3. The aim of this unit and the following unit (‘programming 2’) is to build learners’ confidence and knowledge of the key programming constructs. Importantly, this unit does not assume any previous programming experience, but it does offer learners the opportunity to expand on their knowledge throughout the unit.
  • “Computing Systems”: This unit looks at the variety of different computing systems and how they work. Pupils will also learn about operating systems, computational logic, artificial intelligence, and open-source software.
  • “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, learners will investigate how websites are catalogued and organised for effective retrieval using search engines. They will also consider the hidden network technologies that protect us from the threats that a connected world brings, as well as looking at the impact of these services and technologies.
  • “Representations – from Clay to Silicon”: This unit conveys essential knowledge relating to binary representations. The activities gradually introduce learners to binary digits and how they can be used to represent text and numbers. The concepts are linked to practical applications and problems that the learners are familiar with.
  • “Introduction to Python Programming”: This unit introduces learners to text-based programming with Python. The lessons form a journey that starts with simple programs involving input and output, and gradually moves on through arithmetic operations, randomness, selection, and iteration. Emphasis is placed on tackling common misconceptions and elucidating the mechanics of program execution.
  • “Mobile App Development”: In a world where there is an app for every possible need, this unit aims to take the learners from designer to project manager to developer to create their own mobile app. Using App Lab from code.org, learners will familiarise themselves with the coding environment and have an opportunity to build on the programming concepts they used in previous units before undertaking their project.
  • “Cyber Security”: This unit takes the learners on an eye-opening journey of discovery about techniques used by cybercriminals to steal data, disrupt systems, and infiltrate networks.
  • “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. Learners will be exposed to both global and local data sets and gain an understanding of how visualising data can help with the process of identifying patterns and trends.
  • “Python Programming 2”: 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.
  • “Physical Computing”: This unit applies and enhances the learners’ programming skills in a new engaging context: physical computing, using the BBC micro:bit.
  • “Media – Animations”: In this unit learners will discover how professionals create 3D animations using the industry-standard software package, Blender. By completing this unit learners will gain a greater understanding of how this important creative field is used to make the media products that we consume.
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It is an innovative subject designed to challenge and inspire pupils to think logically, critically and creatively to solve problems.

GCSE Curriculum

Pupils who choose to study Computer Science at GCSE will build upon the skills and knowledge developed in Years 7,8 and 9. As pupils have been following the 5 year curriculum, the transition to GCSE from KS3 will be seamless. More challenge and GCSE aspects has been introduced at an earlier stage that helps our pupils prepare for their Computer Science qualification.

Exam Board: OCR GCSE (9-1) Computer Science (J277)

Outline of the Course:

GCSE Computer Science is a challenging and practical subject where learners can apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to solve real-world problems. It is an intensely creative subject that involves invention and excitement. The OCR Computer Science qualification will value computational thinking, helping learners to develop the skills to solve problems and design systems that do so. This GCSE is ideally suited to pupils who have a keen interest in computing, how computers work and enjoy programming. Pupils need to be dedicated, hardworking and keen to challenge themselves.

Content Overview
Course Overview
Assessment Overview
J277/01: Computer systems
80 Marks
1 hour and 30 minutes
Written Paper
(no calculators allowed)
This paper consists of mulitple choice questions, short response questions and extended response questions
50% of total GCSE

J277/02: Computational thinking, algorithms and programming

80 Marks
1 hour and 30 minutes
Written Paper
(no calculators allowed)
This paper has two sections: Section A and Section B. Students must answer both sections.
50% of total GCSE
Students will be given the opportunity to undertake a programming task(s), either to a specification or to solve a problem(s), during their course of study. Students may draw on some of the content in both components when engaged in Practical Programming.
Trips
Previous schools trips have included looking at control systems at Alton Towers and code breaking at Bletchley Park.