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, or understanding of 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 Key Stage 3 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
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 Year 7, 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 Year 9 (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.
Key Stage 4
Years 10 & 11: GCSE Computer Science – OCR J277
Update: This specification replaces OCR J276 from September 2020.
We originally introduced Computer Science as an AS level subject in Years 10/11 more than a decade ago, alongside GCSE ICT (which was then studied by all pupils in Years 9/10). At that time there was no GCSE available in this more technical subject. Now that there is an appropriate GCSE have switched to offering OCR GCSE Computer Science.
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.
The course is examined through two 90 minute written papers at the end of Year 11 (each worth 50%).
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.
Y11 students only:
The outgoing J276 qualification (as studied by the current Y11) includes a compulsory, but unassessed, programming project. The examinations cover some marginal extra theory work, compared with J277, but have less emphasis on testing programming ability (because of the project work). In summary (and to paraphrase Morcambe & Wise) it is largely the same 'notes' but in a different order! For resources and a syllabus for this course please see here.
Key Stage 5
Year 12-13: A level Computer Science – OCR H446
Students have the option of continuing their studies with the OCR A level Computer Science course. At present, there is an option for CHG students to take this as either a 1 year (AS level - H046) course or as the full A level.
The AS level course is assessed through two 75 minute exam papers at the end of Year 12. The A level course is assessed through two 150 minute exam papers (80%) taken at the end of Year 13, plus a programming project (20%). Lesson time will be given to support the project, which is usually based on interviews with a real 'client'.
Since 2013-14, this course has been taught jointly with the boys’ school, as a mixed class.
Please note that A level Computer Science is a technically demanding course. Although we recognise that not all students will have had the opportunity to do so, it is recommended that students 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 (email@example.com).
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. We have a policy of using free software wherever possible, so there is no need for students to purchase software. We also make extensive use of online resources through 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.