Computer Science

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Computer Science 2017-11-14T13:34:59+00:00
Introduction

Computing is a highly creative subject that offers rewarding and challenging possibilities for a wide range of people regardless of their interests. This subject creates many opportunities for students to acquire valuable thinking and programming skills that are extremely attractive in the modern workplace. An increasing number of universities and employers see successful completion of a Computer Science course as a sign of academic well-roundedness. In addition to its potential to evolve much further, Computer Science is also a career in which there are many high-paying jobs. In addition to being offered a broad Computing curriculum, students at Coloma have many opportunities to stretch their learning through enrichment activities outside of school such as the Computer Science Masterclasses offered by the Royal Institution, Cyber First and Hackathons. Students in Year 8 can join the weekly coding club where they can create exciting projects such as games programming in Python.  

Key Stage 3

Year 7

At the beginning of Year 7, students are taught how to keep themselves safe and act respectfully, responsibly and securely when using technology. They learn what constitutes inappropriate content, contact or conduct and how to report concerns that they may have. Students are then introduced to the “Computer Systems” unit, where they develop an awareness of why and when computers are used. By looking inside a computer, they are exposed to the technical terms and concepts which support their understanding of how the main internal parts work together in a basic computer architecture. Students are encouraged to think computationally by using approaches such as logical reasoning, step-by-step approaches, decomposition, abstraction, generalisation and evaluation when solving problems. They are given many opportunities to apply these skills mainly when designing algorithms to control systems in Flowol, using various programming techniques to create animations and games in Scratch and engaging practically with the BBC micro:bits to physically program hardware. They design and create apps by combining and using multiple resources, internet services and application software.

Year 8

The focus in Year 8 is on “Computer Networks”. The aim is to help students develop an appreciation for how computers communicate with each other. They explore the concept of “The Internet” and are exposed its inner workings – the hardware used to transport data from one computer to another in the form of packets, and the protocols associated with networking computer systems. As they learn to differentiate between the terms “Internet” and “World Wide Web”, they also look at the standards used by the World Wide Web such as HTTP, HTTPS, URL, HTML, CSS and Javascript. Students learn how to format the content and structure of web pages using HTML tags and CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) to create web pages. Students are challenged to explain the need for data compression and to perform simple compression methods. They develop an understanding of how search engines make use of algorithms to respond to a search query. Students are taught about encryption, which is central to an understanding of the security of digital data, and particularly to the communication via the internet, over what are essentially insecure, open channels. They learn about the various internet laws that have been put into place to prevent cybercriminals from using computer networks for harmful or illegal purposes.

Year 9

In Year 9, students look at how computers can only represent data and instructions as binary. They work out how numbers, images, text and sounds are represented as 0s and 1s and how file sizes can be affected by the quality of images and sounds. They learn how logic gates make up the logic circuits within a CPU and they are introduced to AND, OR and NOT gates that they use to create logic circuits. They refine their programming skills by using Python, and are encouraged to write programs that synthesize various coding techniques. Students compare the different types of searching and sorting algorithms and are challenged to implement these in Python. They apply their knowledge of sorting and searching to understand why sorting data in a flat file database can improve searching for information. They design databases and write queries to understand how specific data can be retrieved from a store of data.   

Key Stage 4

Year 10

OCR GCSE Computer Science (9-1) – J276

Topics covered:

Component 1: Students are introduced to the Central Processing Unit (CPU), computer memory and storage, wired and wireless networks, network topologies, and system software.

Component 2: Students apply knowledge and understanding gained in component 01. They develop skills and understanding in computational thinking: algorithms, programming techniques, producing robust programs, computational logic, translators and data representation. The skills and knowledge developed within this component will support the learner when completing the Component 03 Programming Project.

Year 11

Topics covered:

Component 1: Students are introduced to the ethical, legal, cultural and environmental issues arising from the use of computers and system security.

Component 2: Revision of all topics covered

Component 3: Students use OCR assessment tasks to demonstrate their practical ability in the skills developed in components 01 and 02. In a controlled environment, they will define success criteria from a given problem, and then create suitable algorithms to achieve success criteria. Students then code their solutions in a suitable programming language, and check its functionality using a suitable and documented test plan. Students have a total of 20 hours to complete their programming project.

Public Exam details:

Component 1 – Computer Systems (01): 80 marks, 1 hour 30 mins, 40% – Calculators not allowed.

Component 2 – Computational thinking, algorithms and programming (02): 80 marks, 1 hour 30 mins, 40% – calculators not allowed.

Component 3 – Programming project (04): 40 marks, 20 hours, 20% – Non-exam assessment.

Key Stage 5

Years 12 and 13

OCR A-Level Computer Science – H446 

Topics covered:

Component 1:

Students are introduced to the internal workings of the (CPU), data exchange, software development, data types and legal and ethical issues. The resulting knowledge and understanding will underpin their work in component 03.

It covers:

  • the characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
  • types of software and the different methodologies used to develop software
  • data exchange between different systems
  • data types, data structures and algorithms
  • legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues.

Component 2:

This builds on component 01 to include computational thinking and problem-solving.

It covers:

  • what is meant by computational thinking (thinking abstractly, thinking ahead, thinking procedurally etc.)
  • problem solving and programming – how computers and programs can be used to solve problems
  • algorithms and how they can be used to describe and solve problems.

Component 3:

Students are expected to apply the principles of computational thinking to a practical coding programming project. They will analyse, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a program written in a suitable programming language. The project is designed to be independently chosen by the student and provides them with the flexibilty to investigate projects within the diverse field of computer science. We support a wide and diverse range of languages.