Welcome to Computer Science. It is an exciting time for Computer Science, with the subject continuing to develop during its reiteration back into our National Curriculum. As a department we continue to encourage and aspire all our students to unlock their potential and strive for a career in the subject which will most definitely continue to shape their lives.
Starting on entry to the school in year 7, students are set on a pathway designed to unlock their computational thinking potential. Students will begin by studying a range of programming languages as we look to support the transition from block coding, which they will have had exposure to in primary school, to text based languages such as P5.JS and Python. Our students have a real aptitude for Computer Science and our vision is to harness their potential from an early age and open their eyes to a potential career in the growing field of Computer Science.
As well as logical thinkers, The Ripley Academy boosts a lot of students with talents for the creative side of Computer Science. The ability to design websites for the modern day is always a firm favourite amongst students. Students will learn beyond the Computer Science curriculum and develop their understanding of the wider world and safety online as well as the use of computing in creative career domains.
The Computer Science Department encompasses three main areas of study: Computer Systems, Computational Thinking and Creative Interactive Media. At Key Stage 3, all three areas of study are integrated so that they are addressed each year.
Our schemes of work are designed to give pupils the opportunity to develop vital skills needed to succeed in these three areas of study, as well as the wider world outside of the classroom. Our assessments and schemes of work at Key Stage 3 are informed by GCSE specifications which we teach at Key Stage 4, providing a perfect foundation for future study.
Following an introduction to the school network, we raise awareness of the ever growing dangers of social media usage and the WWW. Students are then set on a year of computational development. Starting with game development using the Scratch programming environment, the three pillars of computer programming, sequence, selection and iteration, run through the heart of everything we study in Year 7. Students are then given the opportunity to code hardware using the BBC Microbits before studying algorithms more closely with Flowol. We introduce processing to students using the amazing P5.JS environment before eventually arriving at the student’s first taste of the GCSE programming language, Python.
In Year 8, we begin to introduce our students to the Creative Media side of Computer Science. Of course we don’t drift our attention completely away from the hardware side of things. Students learn to create animation, sound and graphics in Year 8, whilst also studying how these formats are stored and processed digitally. Students are then given the opportunity to take the hood off the computer, take it apart, rebuild it and learn about how all the components interact to produce the colours, graphics and icons we see on the screen in front of us. Students study a vital application package that is used by almost all businesses today in the form of Spreadsheets; a lasting survivor of the old ICT curriculum, before advancing their Python programming skills before heading into Year 9.
In order to equip students with the programming skills they require at Key Stage 4, we move into more advance Python programming at the beginning of Year 9. Students begin to look at numerical and character data representation by studying binary as well as getting a first glimpse into the logical circuits that operate inside the processors ALU. Database Development, and its importance in developing applications is studied next, before students embark on a journey into the WWW and the crime that comes with it.
On arrival to Key Stage 4, students have already gained a strong foundation in the two main areas of study: Computer Systems and Computational Thinking.
Our schemes of work have been carefully designed to offer the students the best chance at achieving their potential in their GCSE course. Care has been taken to ensure all aspects of the course are covered in rigorous detail. Together with our assessment strategy, we aim to pin point every students individual learning needs to ensure there are fully prepared for their final exams.
OCR GCSE Computer Science
The GCSE in Computer Science is an engaging and practical course which encourages creativity and problem solving. It encourages students to develop their understanding and application of the core concepts in computer science. Students analyse problems in computational terms and devise creative solutions by designing, writing, testing and evaluating programs. This course is suited to our students who boast logical thinking skills and enjoy the challenge of solving a problem.
OCR A-Level Computer Science
The A Level Computer Science qualification helps students understand the core academic principles of computer science. Classroom learning is transferred into creating real-world systems through the creation of an independent programming project. The A Level will develop the student’s technical understanding and their ability to analyse and solve problems using computational thinking.
Edexcel BTEC Level 3 Information Technology
This qualification is designed for learners who are interested in an introduction to the study of creating IT systems to manage and share information, alongside other fields of study, with a view to progressing to a wide range of higher education courses, not necessarily in IT
In every year group, students are assessed formally at the end of each topic. This ensures students are rigorously assessed during the course of the year. Each assessment at Key Stage 3 is based on the topic within the GCSE specifications, with each test including GCSE level questions.
At Key Stage 4, every unit of work is assessed using GCSE questions, with every test processed using an in house analysis system to determine which area of the specification is the student’s strongest and which area is the weakness. This allows the department to pinpoint the areas of development for each student and track their process more closely. With this level of question analysis, we can ensure that students are fully prepared for their final examinations come Year 11.
The same process applies to Key Stage 5. With every assessment deeply analysed and students receiving individual feedback pinpointing their areas of development from the assessments. All questions are taken from the examination boards own bank of A-Level questions to ensure the assessments are strong enough for the department to predict a realistic outcome.
In the interest of fairness, we have all us in house exams moderated. We boost fantastic relationships with all exam boards and local schools. This enables the department to quality assure all assessments with the best outside sources.
Intervention and enrichment sessions are running every week within the Computer Science department. Students at Key Stage 3 are given the opportunity to take part in a Programming STEM club on Monday afternoons. The latest challenge set for our STEM club is to create a product worthy of winning the national Big Bang Fair. Key Stage 4 and 5 intervention classes are popular after school classes running on Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.
The WWW offers fantastic resources to develop your understanding outside of the classroom. Below are just a few useful websites
Key Stage 3
Code.org – www.code.org
Hour of Code – www.hourofcode.com/uk
Code Combat – www.codecombat.com
Computit – www.compute-it.toxicode.fr
BBC Microbit – www.bbc.com/bitesize/subjects/zvc9q6f
Key Stage 4
OCR Computer Science MOOC – www.cambridgegcsecomputing.org
Craig and Dave YouTube Channel – www.youtube.com/channel/UC0HzEBLlJxlrwBAHJ5S9JQg
Crash Course Computer Science YouTube Channel – www.youtube.com/watch?v=tpIctyqH29Q&list=PL8dPuuaLjXtNlUrzyH5r6jN9ulIgZBpdo&safe=true
GROK Learning Python Programming – www.groklearning.com
Codecademy – www.codecademy.com
W3 Schools – www.w3schools.com
Key Stage 5
All Key Stage 5 students have private access to our resources. There they will find links to specification, classroom content, online videos and websites to support their study.