Balcarras

Computer Science

Overview

In today’s ever advancing technological climate, it is important that pupils are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to enable them to understand and utilise computers effectively and safely. We are pleased to be able offer pupils a curriculum that allows them to explore the scientific aspects of technology, whilst also enabling them to use it creatively.

Our curriculum design has been informed by looking at technology sectors and higher education to identify what students need to succeed in these areas. We have developed a close link with our local university and are continuing to develop links with industry and IT professionals to ensure our courses are relevant and purposeful.

The department is well qualified and experienced consisting of two full time teachers with degrees in computing, who are also specialist trained computer science teachers.

Key Stage 3 

Year 7

Computing

The first year of computing is dedicated to establishing the core concepts and theories of computer science and graphic design to enable students to develop a strong platform on which to build layers of further skills and understanding later in the key stage. The learning that takes place in Year 7 enables students to become informed, discerning and efficient users and creators of digital content. There is a focus on practical skills in Year 7.

The core of our curriculum is based around four strands; computer science, IT, digital literacy and graphic design. Computer science is learning how digital systems work and how to use this knowledge via programming. Information technology is becoming equipped to create a range of content. Digital literacy is understanding the importance and dangers of technology. Graphic design develops both creativity and software skills.

Work in the classroom

Year 7 pupils have one computing lesson every two weeks.  The multimedia course that pupils follow is designed to interest, engage and challenge pupils’ understanding and knowledge of modern information technology, the internet and computing.  We expect pupils in Year 7 to develop a broad foundation of skill and understanding and greater independence using IT.

Access to resources

Pupils can access computers throughout the school and have access to a wide range of IT resources. The school’s VLE and network can also be accessed from home.  Computer rooms are available before school, at break-time and lunchtime upon request. 

How parents can help

All pupils have access to their personal workspace on the school network from home.  This means pupils’ work can be opened with parents and worked on from home.  Parents can help by checking work and giving guidance and solving small technical issues. 

 

Year 8 Computing

Work in the Classroom

In Year 8, pupils build on their knowledge and skills from Year 7. They will learn principles of programming which will help them create their own coded game, they will understand the components of computers and how data is represented in binary. They will also develop their graphic skills using Adobe software to create a visual for the department. The curriculum builds the foundation for their year 9 topics in order to both prepare them for their GCSE choices as well as give them the skills relevant to today’s technological world.

Curriculum 

·           Algorithms and programming

·           Coding project using Python

·           Graphic design principles

·           Graphics project using Photoshop

·           Understanding computers

· App development project

Resources

All resources for lessons are available on the VLE and are accessible to both pupils and parents. These include lesson worksheets, homework activities and skills videos. For theory topics, each pupil will have an online booklet to complete which they will also use for homework tasks. Projects will be worked on in class, pupils are not expected to buy the software used. They can however, request to use the computer rooms during lunch if required. 

Assessment

Throughout the year there will be a number of VLE assessments and each unit will have a final assessment which will be graded on a 9-1 scale.

How parents are able to help

Showing an interest in the topic is always a big help, as well as ensuring their homework is being completed to the highest effort standard. If lessons are missed, the VLE can be used to catch up with content. 

 

Year 9 Computing

Work in the Classroom

In Year 9, pupils have one computing lesson every two weeks.  pupils further develop their skills in both programming and graphic design. The curriculum is designed to help pupils make an informed decision, especially as they will have two GCSE options in computing of GCSE computer science and GCSE creative imedia.

Curriculum 

·           Algorithms and programming

·           Coding project using Python

·           Graphic design principles

·           Graphics project using Photoshop

·           Networks and HTML

·           Web design project 

Resources

All resources for lessons are available on the VLE and are accessible to both pupils and parents. These include lesson worksheets, homework activities and skills videos. For theory topics, each pupil will have an online booklet to complete which they will also use for homework tasks. Projects will be worked on in class, pupils are not expected to buy the software used. They can however, request to use the computer rooms during lunch if required. 

Assessment

Throughout the year there will be a number of VLE assessments and each unit will have a final assessment which will be graded on a 9-1 scale.

How parents are able to help

Showing an interest in the topic is always a big help, as well as ensuring their homework is completed to the highest effort standard. If lessons are missed, the VLE can be used to catch up with content. Pupils can access BBC Bitesize to consolidate their knowledge and download Python free to practice at home.

Key Stage 4 

GCSE Computer Science

Our GCSE in Computer Science is engaging and practical, encouraging creativity and problem solving. It allows students to develop their understanding and application of the core concepts in computer science. Students also analyse problems in computational terms and devise creative solutions by designing, writing, testing and evaluating programs.

Exam Board:                         OCR

Final examination:             100%

 

Course Overview:

Component 1: Computer Systems (50%)

• Systems Architecture

• Memory and storage

• Computer networks, connections and protocols

• Network security

• Systems software

• Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental impacts of digital technology

Assessment: Written paper, 80 marks (90 minutes)

 

 Component 2: Computational Thinking, Algorithms & Programming (50%)

• Algorithms *

• Programming fundamentals

• Producing robust programs

• Boolean logic

• Programming languages and Integrated Development Environments

Assessment: Written paper, 80 marks (90 minutes)

 Practical Programming

All pupils will be given the opportunity to undertake programming tasks in both Python and HTML with JavaScript to solve problems during the course. This will help pupils gain the coding skills required as well as  give them a better understanding of the theory to help with both component 1 and 2.

Routes for Progression:

Pupils will have the opportunity to continue the course in our sixth form, by selecting our OCR A-level computer science course. This will give them the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a higher education in computing, with the majority of our pupils selecting subjects at university in areas such as computer science, robotics, artificial intelligence and cyber security. Pupils also have the option of apprenticeships, with many opportunities in the ever-growing field of computing.

Even if pupils to do not wish to study the subject further, they will be well set up for our technological world no matter which industry they chose, as this course will enable pupils to develop valuable thinking and programming skills that are extremely attractive in the modern workplace.

Creative iMedia

Our OCR Level 2 Cambridge National in Creative iMedia equips students with the wide range of knowledge and skills needed to work in the creative digital media sector. They start at pre-production and develop their skills through practical assignments as they create final multimedia products. Using the Adobe suite, they will create digital graphics, a multipage website and a digital animation.

 

Exam board:                         OCR

Coursework                          75%

Final examination              25%

 

Course Overview:

The course consists of four units. Two completed each year. Three are coursework based and one is assessed with an exam.

Unit R081: Pre-production Skills (25%) – Year 10

This unit will enable learners to understand pre-production skills used in the creative and digital media sector. It will develop their understanding of the client brief, time frames, deadlines and preparation techniques that form part of the planning and creation process.

Assessment: Written exam – OCR set and marked, 60 marks (1 hour 15 mins)

Unit R082: Digital Graphics (25%) – Year 10

On completion of this unit, learners will understand the purpose and properties of digital graphics, and know where and how they are used. They will be able to plan the creation of digital graphics, create new digital graphics using a range of editing techniques and review a completed graphic against a specific brief.

Assessment: Centre assessed tasks – OCR moderated, 60 marks (10 hours)

*The following options could be subject to change:

 *Unit R085: Multipage Website (25%) – Year 11

This unit will enable learners to understand the basics of creating multipage websites. It will enable learners to demonstrate their creativity by combining components to create a functional, intuitive and aesthetically pleasing website. It will allow them to interpret a client brief and to use planning and preparation techniques when developing a multipage website. Assessment: Centre assessed tasks – OCR moderated, 60 marks (10 hours)

*Unit R086: Digital Animation (25%) – Year 11

This unit enables learners to understand the basics of digital animation for the creative and digital media sector. Learners will be able to plan a digital animation to a client brief, use animation software to create the animation and be able to store, export and review the final product.

Assessment: Centre assessed tasks – OCR moderated, 60 marks (10 hours)

Routes for Progression: This course will provide pupils with essential knowledge, transferable skills and tools to improve their learning in other subjects with the aims of enhancing their employability when they leave education, contributing to their personal development and future economic well-being. Students going into Apprenticeships will clearly be able to show employers and trainers the level of their creative computing competence using a recognised qualification.

Key Stage 5  

Computer Science A-level

Why chose Computer Science?

Computers are now at the heart of everything we do, they impact not only our personal lives but our working environments too. With continued advancements in technology, throughout all industries, it is important to stay a step ahead and ensure you have not only the understanding but the skills to match too. You can make computers work for you and give you that competitive edge required in the workplace.

Computer Science is a practical subject where learners can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real world systems. It is an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement; and can look at the natural world through a digital prism. Computer Science will value computational thinking, helping learners to develop the skills to solve problems, design systems and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence. Learners will also develop an ability to analyse, critically evaluate and make decisions.

Which exam board do you use? 

OCR - H446 Computer Science

Is it hard?

The A-level course is certainly a step up from GCSE, however, it has a very similar structure, so the course content is an extension of your knowledge, building on what has been already taught. It does require a 6 grade at GCSE to reflect that you require the solid level of understanding to continue on to A-level.
Do we have to complete a project?

Yes. The project is worth 20% of the overall grade. The project approach is a vital component of ‘post-school’ life and is of particular relevance to Further Education, Higher Education and the workplace. Each learner is able to tailor their project to fit their individual needs, choices and aspirations.

Which subjects combine well with Computer Science?  

Computer Science has strong connections to many other subjects, such as: mathematics, further mathematics, physics, economics and even psychology, for those wishing to work in the field of AI. However, with all industries making technological advancements, whichever subjects you chose you are likely to find a link. Students who wish to study for a Computer Science degree should consider combining it with A Level mathematics as this is a pre-requisite at many universities.

What grades do I need to study the course?

A 6 in computer science along with a 6 in maths as it helps to understand the mathematical content and have a logical mind.

How well do pupils do on the course?

For the last three years our A-level results have consistently put us in the top 10% of the country.

What can Computer Science lead to? 

The course will give you the necessary skills and knowledge to pursue a higher education in computing, with the majority of our pupils selecting subjects at university in areas such as computer science, robotics, artificial intelligence and cyber security. We have also had a number find apprenticeships, allowing them to study a degree whilst working for a company and receiving a wage. There are many opportunities in the ever-growing field of computer science. 

Even if you to do not wish to study the subject further, you will be well set up for our technological world no matter which industry you chose, as in today’s world, computer science impacts just about every aspect of our lives, with continual advancements in technology and modern life more integrated with computers than ever. The demand for skills and knowledge in this field is on the increase and whether you wish to pursue a career in engineering, medicine, business, maths or science, you will certainly gain an employability advantage.

What will I learn on the course?

 

Content Overview

Assessment Overview

Paper 1:

Computer Systems (01)

140 Marks

2.5 hours

Written paper

  • The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
  • Software and software development
  • Exchanging data
  • Data types, data structures and algorithms
  • Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues

40%

Paper 2:

Algorithms and Programming (02)

140 marks

2.5 hours

Written paper

 

  • Elements of computational thinking
  • Problem solving and programming
  • Algorithms to solve problems and standard algorithms

 

40%

Programming Project (03)

80 marks

NEA

The learner will choose a computing problem to work through according to the guidance in the specification.

  • Analysis of the problem
  • Design of the solution
  • Developing the solution
  • Evaluation

20%

 

Where can I find further information? You can download the specification from OCR’s website by clicking here, or email the Head of Computing – Miss Hinton: amh@balcarras.gloucs.sch.uk

Future Possibilities:

Programmer, Data Analyst, Information Systems Manager, IT Consultant, Web Designer, Graphic Designer, Games Designer.