Departmental approach to the curriculum
Computing skills are a major factor in enabling children to be confident, creative and independent learners and it is our intention that our students have every opportunity available to allow them to achieve this.
Students at Rickmansworth are taught a combination of both Computer Science and ICT skills that can be utilised and transferred across the curriculum. Throughout Key Stage 3, students are taught to use computers creatively and productively through a range of tasks.
Students are also taught to develop logical thinking and approaches, studying the theoretical side of computers, such as the hardware, binary numbers, programming and computational thinking.
Long Term Curriculum Overviews
In Year 7 we concentrate firstly on Basic Office Skills – the reason for this is that students arrive at Rickmansworth School with various levels of skills, primarily focusing on spreadsheets and applying logic. This allows for quick assessment and judgement of the gaps in students practical ability from the start. After getting the basic skills such as logging into the School network and google classroom, we study E-Safety.
Students spend the remainder of the year focusing on programming skills, firstly through Scratch. We teach programming fundamentals such as sequence and iteration. This continues the work from primary school and allows students to develop programming skills without any syntax errors. Students are then given the opportunity to program Microbits to build on these skills further whilst still using a block based environment.
In year 8 the students start by developing their programming skills further, and progressing to a test based language (Python). This introduces the concept of Syntax errors and having to apply decomposition to their programming, by using Turtle to create shapes and patterns.
Students then look at developing Apps for a purpose, looking at how the client affects our choices in design and how the app look. Students develop an app using a block based version of Java (App Lab)
On the theory side Students are taught about binary numbers and how data is represented in a computer system. This incorporates number systems, images, sound and gives students an understanding what affects file sizes.
The remainder of the year we spend some time looking at the History of Computers and then returning to developing the student problem solving skills through Cryptoanalysis and Python units.
Year 9 starts with a focus on Computer Hardware, students taking the knowledge from Year 8 and applying it to the way that Computer Hardware functions, transferring the instructions around the computer system and how this applies to most Computer based devices. Student are shown the physical parts of the computer and how they fit together.
To develop students creative skills they complete a photoshop unit, looking to create a digital graphic to a customers specification and how they interpret the clients brief.
The remainder of the year is spent looking at networking and threats to our computer systems. The last unit studied is iDea which helps students develop digital literacy and an industry-recognised award that students can add to their CVs when applying for jobs.
Year 10 and 11
At Rickmansworth we study the OCR Computer Science Qualification. This is assessed 100% in written examinations.
J277/01: Computer systems
This component will assess:
- Systems architecture
- Memory and storage
- Computer networks, connections and protocols
- Network security
- Systems software
- Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental impacts of digital technology
J277/02: Computational thinking, algorithms and programming
This component will assess:
- Programming fundamentals
- Producing robust programs
- Boolean logic
- Programming languages and Integrated Development Environments
Students will also Complete 20hours of programming - this will be a task set by the exam board that students complete in class time.
Year 12 and 13
Computer Science is a practical subject where students can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real-world systems. It’s an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement, and can look at the natural world through a digital prism.
Full A level Course
Paper 1 - Computer Systems 40%
This component will introduce learners to the internal workings of the Central Processing Unit (CPU), the exchange of data and will also look at software development, data types and legal and ethical issues. It is expected that learners will draw on this underpinning content when studying computational thinking, developing programming techniques and devising their own programming approach in the Programming project component (03 or 04). Learners will be expected to apply the criteria below in different contexts including current and future uses of the technologies.
Paper 2 - Algorithms 40%
This component will incorporate and build on the knowledge and understanding gained in the Computer systems component (01). In addition, learners should:
- understand what is meant by computational thinking
- understand the benefits of applying computational thinking to solving a wide variety of problems
- understand the principles of solving problems by computational methods
- be able to use algorithms to describe problems
- be able to analyse a problem by identifying its component parts.
NEA - 20%
Using an iterative design process students are to develop a program to solve a complex task for a client and stakeholders, Students are free to pick the language and tasks with in reason and are supported by staff through the teaching in other units. This is started in November of Year 12 and makes up a core of the work they complete during lesson time and for home learning.
How can you help your child succeed in computer science?
Computer Science can be a difficult course for students at first, especially when developing programming skills.
To help your child succeed, they can:
Download Python and practice programming at home
Refer back to the lesson resources shared with them through Google Classroom
Use some of the many free resources available to them online:
Students should take their time with Programming, breaking down the problem into manageable pieces or removing any information that isn’t important. Students should view problems as puzzles that they need to solve, encouraging them to think this way will enable them to succeed at Programming.
Helpful websites and further information
The following programming languages are free to download at home and might help develop students understanding of computing
Microbit - online and can simulate the microbit
Revision through GCSE Pod
Students in Year 11 are given access to Smart Revise
Students are provided with an online textbook