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Devonport High School for Girls


Dr C Gurr, BSc (Hons), Msc, PhD, PGC, PGCE

Introduction to the department

At DHSG we recognise that computing equips students to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science, and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The department aims to provide high quality teaching and learning for students in: the use of computers, networks and application software (digital literacy), how computers and networks actually work (the science of computers) and how to create their own applications (computer programming). Students will also look at how information technology is used in real-life situations and how to use IT safely and responsibly (e-safety).

In KS3 (year 7-8) all students will have one lesson of ICT/Computer Science per week.

In KS4 students can choose to study Computer Science at GCSE.

At KS5, students can choose to study A Level Computer Science as part of TLP.

The school was first awarded the ICT Mark in 2010 and this was renewed in 2013. This recognises that the school is committed to using technology to improve its overall effectiveness and efficiency.

The school is well-equipped with information and communications technology hardware based around three computer rooms and a library resources area. There are a number of satellite areas including the Art Block, Sixth Form Centre and the Languages Communications Room which is equipped with video conferencing facilities. The school has recently upgraded its network infrastructure and has installed a school wide, wireless network. All students have their own e-mail address, secure storage space on the school network and can access the school’s Learning Platform from any remote computer via the internet. Edulink allows parents and carers their own access to their child’s records.


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.