The department aims for students to foster an understanding of computers as binary machines able to support a wide range of software applications, develop an appreciation of the benefits and dangers arising from the use of computers in a variety of contexts, and develop thinking skills through programme writing. Besides the principles of Computing, the appropriate use of general-purpose applications software is also covered. To this end, towards the end of Year 9 all pupils take the examination course ‘Functional ICT’ which leads to examination-board certification.
A range of programming tools is used across the key stage including LOGO, Scratch, Python and Visual Basic. Pupils are taught in mixed-ability groups of no more than 24 class members. By the conclusion of this Key Stage, pupils will have learnt how to write self-contained applications programs to perform a variety of tasks ranging from working out averages to calculating insurance premiums. In the Summer Term, all Year 9 pupils sit the Functional ICT public examination.
Computing is a subject that encourages students to develop problem-solving skills. By breaking down ideas into smaller and smaller parts, students become critical-thinkers. The subject offers students the opportunity of furthering their knowledge of computers as machines controlled by software. It is not a subject about simply using software; it is about being creative and imaginative! The GCSE course focuses upon the theory and the practice of writing software. The theory of software design is referenced through the development of algorithms, while its practice is achieved by converting algorithms into program code. An algorithm is simply a list of instructions written in a sequence.
A-Level Computing reflects both the applications of computers within society, as well as the theoretical principles of Computer Science. Both low and high level programming is taught, providing the foundation required for successful completion of the practical coursework component. Students learn problem-solving techniques through the creation of flowcharts (system and program), data flow diagrams, algorithms and program code. The teaching style typically involves students designing an algorithm for a task such as merging two files. Such algorithms would need to be tested and any changes applied. Code based upon the algorithm would then be written and tested in order to evaluate success. At this stage, the code might also require editing in order to work fully! Problem solving in this way encourages students to become critical-thinkers, a skill with very wide educational benefits.
Access to IT facilities is available at designated lunchtime club sessions, allowing pupils both to brush up or extend their knowledge of techniques and practice or complete assignments. Help is available during club sessions.