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Devonport High School for Girls

Head of Department

Mr B Kerr, BSc (Hons) PGCE

Statement of intent 

Computing gives our students an understanding of and capability in the highly technological world they are born into. Computation and the technology that delivers it, affects their lives broadly and deeply. Understanding the 1 and 0s of the digital world is a fundamental as understanding the atoms that comprise the physical world. 

At DHSG, we aim to give students: 

  • knowledge of the underlying mechanics of computing;
  • understanding of the effect it has on our world;
  • consciousness of how computing may best be used to improve their future work and the world they live in; 
  • the ability to use computational thinking to solve problems in the physical world and specifically in programming;
  • awareness of the legislation, social, economic and environmental effects of computing;
  • skill in using day-to-day software and technology, used widely in the world of work; 
  • appreciation of the serious implications and application of cybersecurity. 

Students learn how computing skills enhance their abilities to achieve in other subjects and walks of life. For example, they should be aware of creating business models, scientific simulations, interactive art installations, perform complex mathematical equations, research vast archives for History, gain new perspectives from remote imaging and sensing for earth sciences, enhanced communication and data collection for social sciences. They should understand the seismic shifts that can be achieved through programming and algorithms and the realisation of ideas into reality through code. This includes discussing successful software, social changes from electronic communication and big tech algorithms.  They should develop an understanding of the ways our society and work can and will change as a result of automation, artificial intelligence and new technologies. Such as researching Artificial Intelligence and job replacement/adaptation, 3D printing in large scale and different materials. 

At all stages, we encourage students to ask questions about the subject, technology, interaction with other disciplines and its impact on real life. Successful students should be capable of taking full advantage of the modern world, while being safe, confident, and considerate in it. 

 At Key Stage 3, students study a broad curriculum that addresses what we academically describe as ICT and Computer Science. ICT skills are the skills that the vast majority of students will need regardless of the path chosen in life, such as the use of office software and the internet. Computer Science particularly support those looking to follow STEM pathways, but is all important to understand how the modern world about us functions. The topics covered at KS3 in year 7 are: 

  • Spreadsheets, modelling and use of data. 
  • Programming Essentials using Blocky style programming. 
  • E-Safety, being part of the online world and providing reliable information. 
  • Networking, the internet and the Web. 
  • Text based programming using Python. 
  • Webpages and their design. 
  • The topics covered at KS3 in year 8 are: 
  • Next steps Python Programming 
  • How computers work: Number Systems, data representation, Logic and the Fetch-Execute cycle 
  • Security and Cryptography 
  • Artificial Intelligence 
  • Text games 
  • E-Safety Part 2 

At Key Stage 4, students follow the OCR GCSE Computer Science Curriculum, which covers: 

  • Unit 1 - Systems architecture, Memory and storage, computer networks, connections and protocols, network security, systems software, ethical, legal, cultural and environmental impacts of digital technology. 
  • Unit 2 - Algorithms, programming fundamentals, producing robust programs, Boolean logic, programming languages and Integrated Development Environments. 

 

Key stage 3  (Year 7 and 8)  

In Year 7 students have a series of short units:

  • Programming in Scratch
  • E-safety
  • How the Internet works
  • Introduction to programming in Python
  • Web design

In Year 8, students have longer units based on a theme:

  • Further programming in Python: using turtle graphics to learn about variables, loops and display effects.
  • How computers work: investigating the construction of logic gates to see how computers follow commands.
  • Cryptography: using Python to code and decode messages.
  • AI: uses Python to create an apparent Artificial Intelligence and look at the history, current development and ethics of Artificial Intelligence.
  • Using Python to create text-based computer games.
  • E-safety: in depth exploration of issues of poor digital security and the dangers it poses to young people.

Key stage 4 (Year 9, 10 and 11) 

In year 9 we introduce the GCSE Computer Science course. The course combines a practical aspect (programming) and a theory aspect which covers both programming and the workings of computers more generally.

In addition to further developing design and programming skills, topics covered in year 9 include:

  • Algorithms: measuring efficiency, searching algorithms and sorting algorithms.
  • Truth tables & logic gates.
  • Working with binary, denary and hexadecimal numbers.
  • Representing data: characters, images and sound.
  • Data compression.

During year 10, students will continue to develop their programming skills and will study more advanced theory topics, including:

  • Computer Systems: hardware and software, system versus application software, systems architectures and the CPU, memory and storage, embedded systems.
  • Networks: types, topologies, protocols, security and the 4-Layer model.
  • Cybersecurity: malware & social engineering, penetration testing, threats & prevention.

In year 11, students will tackle an extended practical project.  We also cover the final theory topic on ethical, legal and environmental impacts of digital technology. Following this, students will then focus fully on preparing for the two written examinations, each worth 50% of the GCSE. The first paper will test their understanding of programming and computational thinking whilst the second paper will examine the theoretical content of the course.

Full details of the specification and assessment criteria can be found on the OCR website Computer Science GCSE

Extra-curricular activities 

As a department we run a number of lunch-time support sessions throughout the year. These take place in CR1 and are predominantly aimed at KS4 students who wish to work on their programming skills.

During enrichment days every opportunity is used to allow students to continue to develop their digital literacy.