At St Edward’s we believe each student should leave school with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the modern world.
Computer Science is a relatively new subject to the curriculum, which has evolved out of Computing and Maths and has replaced ICT on the curriculum. It has a very different focus to ICT, in that Computer Science is centred on the underlying knowledge of how and why a computer works, rather than ICT being how to use a computer.
At St Edward’s, Computer Science is intended to give students skills and knowledge to succeed and be safe in a modern technology-driven world, regardless of if they choose it at GCSE or A Level. Computational thinking and logical problem-solving approaches are at the heart of everything we do, skills which can be applied across the curriculum, along with relevant knowledge in real-world contexts to understand the role technology plays in all our lives.
Key Stage 3
In Years 7 and 8 students have one dedicated Computer Science lesson per fortnight, with Year 9 having the same one lesson per fortnight plus one of their Technology rotations is given to Programming.
Students build on several key topics throughout their KS3 learning, which then get further developed if they choose to study GCSE. The intention is to give them a flavour of as many areas of the subject as possible to hopefully inspire them to choose to study it further when it becomes an option.
Key Topics include:
- Algorithms and Computational Thinking
- Binary, Hexadecimal and Units
- Data Representation
- Computer Hardware, CPU and Memory
- Programming in Python
Due to the number of lessons per fortnight, students are assessed at 2 points in the year formally but as part of their homework will often complete low-stakes quizzes online, so they have some feedback, and their teacher is aware of their progress from that lesson.
Key Stage 4
In Years 10 and 11, students can choose to study GCSE Computer Science as one of their option subjects and will have 5 lessons per fortnight.
GCSE Computer Science takes all of the key topics from Key Stage 3 and delves into them at a much deeper level, whilst also exploring some new related areas that are not previously covered. This allows students to get a more well-rounded understanding of how the technology that surrounds us and impacts heavily on our everyday lives works and the direction that it may be heading in the future. From this understanding, discussions around the moral, ethical, cultural and environmental impacts of technology can then follow, enabling GCSE students to make decisions around the sort of global and digital citizen they would like to become. As well as the more theoretical topics, students both study and engage in practical tasks of programming. This further fosters the computational thinking and logical problem-solving skills that are at the heart of the department.
OCR GCSE Computer Science (J277)
Paper 1 – Computer Systems (90mins, 80marks, 50% of Qualification):
- 1 Systems Architecture
- 2 Memory and Storage
- 3 Computer Networks, Connections and Protocols
- 4 Network Security
- 5 Systems Software
- 6 Ethical, Legal, Cultural Impacts of Digital Technology
Paper 2 – Computational Thinking, Algorithms and Programming (90mins, 80marks, 50% of Qualification):
- 1 Algorithms
- 2 Programming Fundamentals (Python)
- 3 Producing Robust Programs
- 4 Boolean Logic
- 5 Programming Languages and IDEs
Pathways after Year 11
The technology sector is still growing and does not appear to be slowing, particularly in the local area, meaning that career prospects are excellent. It is also a sector that equally values practical experience and academic ability, so there are a number of routes for students to follow.
From an academic perspective, A Level Computer Science is the natural progression, which is recommended to be studied alongside either A Level Maths or Core Maths. This furthers the depth of knowledge from GCSE whilst introducing a number of new areas and concepts previously uncovered. This is the traditional pathway to then studying a related area at university.
From a vocational perspective, there are a variety of apprenticeships available in both Computer Science and ICT based roles or T Levels in Digital Production, Design and Development are now available (equivalent to 3 A Levels). Students that do not want to undertake the academic route are encouraged to look at these, which can lead to very successful careers in industry.
Key Stage 5
In Years 12 and 13, we offer A Level Computer Science and use the AQA exam board (7517). This course allows students to deepen their theoretical knowledge of Computer Science which is assessed through 1 of 2 examination papers. It also includes large programming elements, which are assessed though an NEA Programming Project and through studying a skeleton code, which forms a large part of the second examination paper.
Paper 1 – On-Screen Exam (Theory and Skeleton Code), 150mins, 100marks, 40% of Qualification
Paper 2 – Examination Paper (Theory), 150mins, 100marks, 40% of Qualification
Non-Exam Assessment (NEA) – Programming Project, 75marks, 20% of Qualification
For further information about A Level Computer Science, please see the dedicated page in the Sixth Form area of the website.
Mr C Prince
Computer Studies Subject Leader