St Michael's
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Computing

 A downloadable version of this information can be found here.

Overview

Computing is a compulsory subject that all pupils study until the end of year 9. Thereafter it becomes an option subject which has been popular over recent years. The computing department offer various KS4 courses, including GCSE Computer Science and Technical Awards.

What skills will pupils develop?

Computer science is a vast subject with lots of applications. Computer scientists design new software, solve computing problems and develop different ways to use technology. But, whatever they’re doing, all computer scientists rely on ‘computational thinking’.

What is computational thinking?

Computational thinking involves looking at a problem and working out a way a computer might be able to help you solve it. To do this, you need to understand how a computer processes information. You probably use computational thinking at school too, but don’t realise it. If you analyse a problem and plan out the solutions, you are using computational thinking.

Using computational thinking?

Programmers use logical thinking and problem-solving strategies when they are writing code. A programmer, coder or software engineer is someone who designs and makes computer programs. They might use one type of computer language or many. They use computational thinking all the time.

Programmers are logical thinkers and problem-solvers. They look at problems and try to come up with different ways of solving them. There is often more than one way to solve a problem and coders try to find the most efficient way. This could mean finding the solution to the problem which requires the least number of steps.

What will help pupils to learn?

A range of methods can be used to support pupils learning in computing. These are:

Discussing what your child has learnt today - pupils are recalling what they have learnt during the day which will help cement their understanding by having to explain to you what they’ve done.

Make sure that your child gets homework done - You can help your child with homework by setting aside a special place to study and establishing a regular time for homework.

Help your child prepare for tests - Tests play an important role in determining a pupils grade. Your child will take several tests during the school year, they will have a revision lesson prior and given the material to take home for revision. Spending time with the revision material would help prepare your child for the upcoming test.

Getting it wrong isn’t the same as failing - In Computing (especially the programming aspects) it is learning through trial and error in many of the units of work. It is important that learners understand that they will tend to get the work wrong several times before getting it right. They need to develop their growth mind-set of learning from the mistakes made.

 

KS3 Course Structure

The KS3 lends itself to preparing pupils for the new GCSE 9-1 Computer Science curriculum with a mixture of both theory and programming schemes of work. Also, as an alternative we offer a vocational course at KS4 so pupils will be required to learn practical skills at KS3 to build an end product helping them to explore all options.

Year 7

In Year 7 pupils will be taught in their form groups and will study the following schemes of work:

  • Autumn 1 - Computational Thinking (Theory)
  • Autumn 2 - Introduction to Programming Concepts (Theory and Programming)
  • Spring 1 - Control Systems - Flowol (Programming)
  • Spring 2 - Building a Game - Kodu (Programming)
  • Summer 1 - What are Computers? (Theory)
  • Summer 2 - Python - Turtle (Programming)

Pupils will be given a start of year and end of year test incorporating elements from all of the above to show how they have progressed throughout the year. Pupils can make use of teacher support after school if they require additional help.

Year 8

In Year 8 pupils will be taught in their form groups and will study the following schemes of work:

  • Autumn 1 - Data Representation (Theory)
  • Autumn 2 - Building a Game - Scratch (Programming)
  • Spring 1 - Using Technology, Safely, Securely and Responsibly (Theory)
  • Summer 1 - Project - Music Festival (Practical)
  • Summer 2 - Flowcharts and Python (Programming)

Pupils will be given a start of year and end of year test incorporating elements from all of the above to show how they have progressed throughout the year. Pupils can make use of teacher support after school if they require additional help.

Year 9

To deepen their Computing knowledge ready for the demands of the GCSE Computer Science qualification pupils will explore elements of this qualification in Year 9.  In Year 9 pupils will be taught in their form groups and will study the following schemes of work:

  • Autumn   - Computer Systems (Theory)
  • Spring 1 - Networks (Theory)
  • Spring 2 - Python (Programming)
  • Summer -  Project - Prom (Practical)

Pupils will be given a start of year and end of year test incorporating elements from all of the above to show how they have progressed throughout the year. Pupils can make use of teacher support after school if they require additional help. 

KS3 Assessment

In computing we pride ourselves on being very active in lesson by ensuring we are giving constant verbal feedback to pupils to encourage them improve their work and gain the best possible grades. Furthermore, for every scheme of work pupils will be given a booklet with the grade descriptors on that they will be aiming to achieve. The formal  assessments are mapped to this booklet and take the following format:

Mid-Point Assessments

In every scheme of work at KS3 there is a mid-point assessment that depending on the type of scheme of work will be a practical based activity such as a program. This will assess how pupils have understood the first half of that scheme of work using written feedback based on the grade descriptors for that topic.

End Point Assessments

At the end of each scheme of work pupils will undertake end of unit tests, in exam conditions, to help prepare pupils for the intensity of their GCSE exams. They will answer the questions using the software ClassFlow on the computer with a variety of questions including multiple choice, drag and drop and extended answers.

KS4 Course Structure

We undertake two qualifications at Key Stage 4 to reflect our inclusive ethos whereby pupils will be encouraged to take one or the other as follows:

BTEC Level 2 Tech Award in Digital Tools and Technologies:

This is a brand new course starting September 2017 where pupils will explore how technology is used in organisations to manipulate data into information, the systems infrastructures available, creative solutions and how safety and security is managed. Pupils will undertake three components:

Exploring Digital Tools and Technologies (30%)

  1. Managing Data to Provide Information (30%)
  2. Planning a Digital Solution (60%)

Year 10

In Year 10 pupils will be explore the first two components where they will be required to design a network solution and manipulate, analyse and present date in spreadsheets based on what an organisation and their customers will need and want.

Year 11

Using knowledge gained in Year 10, pupils will be prepared for their exam where they will need to design a solution for an organisation that will be provided in a case scenario.

OCR Computer Science:

Unit 1 – Written assessment

This unit is again assessed through a written examination. Students learn more about data representation and computer hardware and software as well as how computer networks, including the internet, work. They also learn what cyber security threats are and how to detect and prevent them as

well as the ethical, legal and environmental impacts digital technology has on all of our lives.

Paper 2 – Computational Thinking and Problem Solving

Although the Computational Thinking and Problem Solving unit is assessed through a written examination, learning takes place through practical computer work as well as written theory. Students learn to read and write algorithms, how to develop computer programs, how data is represented in computer systems and the hardware and software computers use.  

Unit 3 – Non-exam assessment

This is a practical programming unit. Throughout Year 10 students build upon the Python programming skills they started developing in Key Stage 3 as they learn more advanced programming techniques and develop their ability to write programs for specific purposes. In Year 11 they are given a practical programming problem to solve which is set by the exam board. They have to design, write and test a

computer program to solve the problem as well as writing a report explaining how they solved it; both the report and the program itself are marked.

KS4 Assessment

The assessment at KS4 for both qualifications is as follows:

BTEC Level 2 Tech Award in Digital Tools and Technologies

The components are assessed based the grades: Pass, Merit, Distinction and Distinction*. Each component is assessed as follows:

Exploring Digital Tools and Technologies (30%)

This is an internally assessed component that means pupils will be assessed on two learning aims with their design of a network solution based on a given scenario:

 

  1. Explore digital tools used by organisations e.g. communication and collaboration tools.
  2. Investigate the suitability of digital technologies used by organisations e.g. networks and connectivity.

Managing Data to Provide Information (30%)

This is an internally assessed component that means pupils will be assessed on three learning aims with their ability to manipulate, analyse and present data in a spreadsheet based on a given scenario:

  1. Explore how organisations collect, manipulate and use data to provide information.
  2. Perform data import and management tasks.
  3. Develop a data analysis and handling solution to meet client requirements.

Planning a Digital Solution (60%)

Pupils will take all that has been learnt so far to complete an assessment worth 60 marks as this is an externally assessed component. Pupils will be assessed on three learning aims with their ability to use a variety of modelling techniques to plan a solution for a given scenario:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of digital tools and technology, legislation and digital safety and security to a given scenario or context.
  2. Analyse the use of digital tools and technology, legislation and digital safety and security in a
    given scenario or context.
  3. Make connections and apply knowledge and understanding of digital tools and technology, legislation and digital safety and security to plan and recommend digital solutions for a given scenario or context.

 OCR Computer Science

Computer Science

Paper 1 – Written assessment

The examination is worth 40% of the overall GCSE.

Unit 2 – Computational Thinking and Problem Solving

The examination is worth 40% of the overall.

Unit 3 – Non-exam assessment

All of the programming and report writing has to be done during lessons under exam type conditions with 20 hours to complete the project which is worth 20% of the overall GCSE.

Staff

Mr Johal - Head of Faculty (Computing and Business)

Miss Houten - Leader of Computing

Mrs Dey – Leader of Business

Mrs Gould

Mrs Kirikaran

Mrs Handy-Rivett - Deputy Head and Teacher of Computing

Mr Damien MacKinney - Assistant Head and Teacher of Computing

Opportunities out of lessons

Pupils will be given the following opportunities outside of lesson in Computing:

  • After school support in one of the four computer rooms.
  • Lunch time support in one of the four computer rooms.
  • Pupils will be able to access work at home through the use of Google Drive and Classroom which can be used for independent and collaborative work.

Career Pathways in this subject

We aim to encourage pupils to engage with different career pathways in computing by equipping them with the skills and understanding needed to be the best they can be. Once pupils, with an interest in computing, finish at St Michael’s they can go into higher education in the following areas:

  • IT
  • Computer gaming technology
  • Creative computing (animation)
  • Computer science
  • Creative media
  • Business information technology
  • Architectural technology
  • Computer science with business management
  • Software engineering

 Equally if more institutional education is not for them they may wish to explore an apprenticeship in IT or HND courses in Network Management where they can learn on the job. The above areas will ultimately help pupils to enter jobs such as the following:

  • Application analyst
  • Business analyst
  • Data analyst
  • Database administrator
  • Games developer
  • Information systems manager
  • IT consultant
  • Multimedia programmer
  • SEO specialist
  • Systems analyst
  • Systems developer
  • UX analyst
  • Web designer
  • Web developer