In today’s world, individuals need technological and information literacy skills, and these skills are as essential as the traditional skills of numeracy and literacy. Whatever your chosen academic or career direction, you will need to use computers. The better your skills are, the easier you will find this and the more you will be able to accomplish.
The subject of Computing is made up of at least three different areas:
- Digital Literacy is the ability to use the everyday tools around us. This might mean safely accessing the internet, being able to type, health & safety relating to computer use. It also means being able to use the kind of general purpose software typically found in schools and workplaces: word processors, spreadsheets, etc.
- Digital Media is the ability to use computers to create digital products. Understanding and editing video or sound, for example, or creating a website. There are many jobs linked to this kind of work, and it is good fun. It also links in with the other ‘creative arts’ subjects.
- Computer Science is understanding how computers work. All of us need the skills to be able to understand (if not fix) computer systems, and such skills also help with all other kinds of logical problem solving. Through understanding such systems and learning how to control and program them we can ensure that we make computers do the things we want them to do. The recent growth in ‘apps’ for phones has shown how this gives the opportunity to be creative too – all you need is an idea! In fact programming is a great way to be creative whilst thinking your way through a structured process – you need to develop a whole range of skills to do this.
The revised National Curriculum changed the subject to prioritise Computer Science, including changing the name of the KS3 subject from ICT to Computing. We have been teaching A level Computer Science since 2008 and have a curriculum designed to introduce appropriately technical topics from Year 7. For more detailed information, including the syllabus for each year group, please click on the links below. We always welcome positive suggestions on how our curriculum could be developed further to meet the needs of our pupils:
Key Stage 3 (Years 7, 8 and 9)
We have redesigned our curriculum to take a more technical, knowledge-based approach, and will continue to do so as the subject evolves.
While we still aim to develop skills in using various pieces of standard software, particularly in Y7, we are now putting a greater emphasis on knowledge and on developing and understanding of aspects of Computer Science. This will, for example, include learning at least one text-based programming language by the end of Y9 (currently Python), and ensuring that web development is initially taught through the use of HTML/CSS rather than through software that may allow design without technical understanding.
We continue to place an emphasis on developing independence and project management skills through a project-based approach. This means that students will be expected to work both individually, and in groups over extended periods, and to research solutions themselves wherever possible. This approach is important in developing ‘real world’ skills of independence, initiative, team work and time management.
Years 10 and 11 – (GCSE Computer Science – OCR J276) – from September 2019
We originally introduced Computer Science as an AS level subject in Year 10/11 more than a decade ago, alongside GCSE ICT (which was studied by all pupils in Year9/10). At that time there was no GCSE in this more technical subject. Now that there is an appropriate GCSE we are now offering OCR GCSE Computer Science for those starting from September 2019.
GCSE Computer Science course is taught over two years with five periods a fortnight. Work extends the knowledge & skills taught at KS3, being concerned with how computers work as well as how they are used. Topics include:
The course is examined through two 90 minute written papers at the end of Year 11 (each worth 50%) and through a compulsory programming project (currently worth 0% – yes 0% – the programming project must be completed but does not contribute marks towards the GCSE itself so is an opportunity to develop coding skills in a ‘no risk’ environment).
Programming skills are assessed through these written papers so a significant proportion of time will be spent in developing these so that students have the experience and terminology to access the subject effectively. At present this aspect is taught using Python, although examination questions do not require answers in any particular language. Pupils will also have lessons on assembly language programming.
Years 10 and 11 (AS Computer Science – OCR H046) – those who started before September 2019
Those who have already started courses in Y10 or Y11 will continue to work towards OCR AS level Computer Science as one of their Key Stage 4 options.
Instead of a one year course in Y12 (9 periods a fortnight), we run the same course as a two year course (5 periods a fortnight).
Although students will be in Years 10 & 11, this is an A level course and students will be expected to develop an increasingly mature attitude towards their studies.
Year 12 (A level Computer Science – OCR H446)
Girls who took AS Computer Science have the option of continuing their studies, to take OCR A level Computer Science at the end of Y12. As well as making it easier to complete 4 complete A levels, this has also means girls apply to university able to indicate at least one final result. Depending on the course/university, some girls have had lower offers as a result (e.g. AA).
The A level course is assessed through two 150 minute exam papers (80%), plus a programming project (20%). Most of the material for the exams will already have been studied as part of the AS level. Lesson time will be given to support the project, which is usually based on interviews with a real customer.
Since 2013-14, this course has been taught jointly with the boys’ school, as a mixed class.
It is also possible for girls to commence an AS level/A level course in Computer Science at the start of Year 12. This provides a route for girls entering the school in the sixth form who have not had the option of studying AS Computer Science in Year 10/11.
Please note that A level Computer Science is a technically demanding course. It is recommended that girls have either studied GCSE Computing or have a proven interest in computer technology. If you would like to discuss what the course would entail then please contact Mr Frost (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Click here to visit the OCR page for this qualification.
This course is taught jointly with the boys’ school, as a mixed class.
The department operates across both the Camp Hill schools and has three full-size computer suites, each containing 32 pupil machines (two at the girls’ school and one at the boys’). Each machine is equipped with up to date software including Windows, MS Office, etc. Wherever possible we also have alternative free software available (e.g. OpenOffice as a free alternative to MS Office). We also make use of online resources including the Moodle VLE and Google Classrooms, so that all resources are equally accessible from home.
Can you help?
We are very keen to hear from any parents or other contacts who may be able to help us develop what we offer, either for our own pupils or as part of our role as ‘Computing at School’ hub for South Birmingham. We are also designated as a lead school for the Excellence in Computing scheme, helping to provide CPD for teachers across the region.