Computing has been a specialist subject at Townley for over 5 years. The aim of the department is to provide students with the opportunity to embrace technology and to inspire them in this subject. Our students enjoy the challenge of problem solving and this subject provides the right forum for them to discover the realms of technology.
The department has been recognised as a leader in paving the way of how computer science should be delivered in schools both secondary and primary. We are actively working with primary schools in how computer science can be delivered as a subject through our outreach program The Digital Schoolhouse. We are a Computing at Schools hub (“CAS”) delivering training to teachers locally.
Further afield we have different organisations visit the department to see how Computing and best teaching practice is delivered. So far we have hosted countries from Europe and Japan to the Balkans visit the department.
The department has 6 members of staff coming from a wide variety of specialisms within technology, from robotics to programming. Many have had experience of working in technology industries and therefore come with a depth of industry knowledge which complements their academic expertise.
Each class is taught in small groups of pupils as it is a recognised part-theory part-practical subject. The department provides 6 classrooms fully equipped with networked PCs and a range of industry standard software. This enables students to be more interactive with the subject as well as being able to encourage group work and individual tasks to expand their skills. Each student is provided with an email account and they have access to the computer suites at lunchtime and after school.
Due to the nature of the subject, the department constantly evaluates and improves our Key Stage 3 curriculum each year. Our current Key Stage 3 curriculum for Computing is set out below, with the aims of challenging our students’ abilities and empowering them with the confidence and skills required to move forward into an ever-expanding world of technology.
During a weekly fifty minute lesson, they are able to learn an excellent balance of ICT and Computer Science skills necessary to build confidence and form a solid foundation for further development in the years to follow in Key Stage 3. Upon entering Townley students are allocated student accounts to the school network, where they can store their work and access any resources required for all subjects. Although our aims are to challenge new Townley students, no previous learning is necessary for the following topics listed below:
Students continue to build on their computing and digital literacy skills with the units of work taught below. Concepts and skills are designed to stretch all abilities during one fifty minute lesson a week, where their knowledge and skills are reinforced and developed further with the projects taught below.
Computing is a specialist subject at TGS so Year 9 is used to prepare the students for when they choose their options on whether to choose GCSE Computing which is offered as a full course GCSE option.
The Computer Science syllabus in Year 9, continues to build on the computing skills the students will have developed in years 7 & 8. This will involve problem solving skills using Visual Basic in order to prepare them for the rigours of the GCSE course. See the below an outline of the some of the modules the students may study:
During this year of study the Computer Science syllabus continues to build on the computing skills and knowledge students will have developed in Years 7 and 8:
There are various reasons to study Computing, but the main reason is that it is guaranteed to equip students with valuable skills and knowledge for a solid foundation, for any career they wish to pursue in the future. These skills can also be developed further at higher education and for a future career in the industry to work with variety of technologies, such as web design and games development. The courses offered at Townley are engaging and enjoyable to study. Designed to nurture digital literacy and provide the student with up-to-date skills and an excellent understanding of the rapidly developing digital world.
The Key Stage 3 curriculum prepares students for the demands of the GCSE syllabus, where Computer Science course is offered at GCSE.
Students will have experienced some theoretical knowledge of computer systems and basic programming through their Computer Science lessons in Year 9. This course is challenging yet it offers a fun and interesting way to develop skills, which can be transferred to other subjects and applied in day-to-day life.
Students are helped to improve analysis and problem-solving skills through the study of computer programming.
The course provides excellent preparation for study in higher education and employment in the field of Computer Science that rely on these skills, especially where they are applied to technical problems. Careers include engineering, financial, science and medicine.
“I took Computer Science because I knew that there is a high demand for it in the workplace, but also because I really enjoy solving problems and using logic. Also, I enjoy being creative, so Computer Science combines those two aspects as you get to make your own programs from scratch but also you have a lot of problems to solve to get them to work. I actually enjoy it when something doesn’t work and you have to really twist your brain to come up with a solution! There can be so many ways to solve a problem and there is never just one answer. The feeling when you have written some code that solves a problem is fantastic! I find the theory fascinating and am considering taking Computer Science at A level after my GCSEs. I would recommend this subject for students who are good at subjects like Maths or Science and are both logical and creative.”
Tharushi Wijesena, Year 12
This new specification is split into three components:
Component 01 – Computer Systems (40% of total GCSE)
Just how do computers work? How can we keep safe whilst using computers? This first component is an exam focused on computer systems covering the physical elements of computer science and the associated theory.
Component 02 – Computational Thinking, Algorithms and Programming (40% of total GCSE)
How can we get computers to solve problems? How do computers run and store the programs we write? This component is focused on the core theory of computer science and the application of computer science principles.
Component 02 – Programming Project (non-exam assessment) (20% of total GCSE)
Programming in action! This component is the non-exam assessment where you will be challenged by a range of exciting and engaging tasks to apply the knowledge and skills you have learned.
This Computer Science qualification will, above all else, be relevant to the modern and changing world of computer science. Computer Science is a practical subject where you can apply the knowledge and skills learned in the classroom to real-world problems. It is an intensely creative subject that involves invention and excitement. This qualification values computational thinking, helping you to develop the skills to solve problems and design systems that do so. You will be equipped with lifelong skills that you can use in a whole variety of A Level courses, including A Level Computer Science, as well as enabling you to work in Technology companies large and small anywhere in the world.
Information technologies continue to have a growing importance. This means there will be a bigger demand for professionals who are qualified in this area. If students want to go on to higher study and employment in the field of Computer Science, they will find that this course provides a superb stepping stone. Students who study Computing can go on to a career in Medicine, Law, Business, Politics or any type of Science.
Students who have taken a Computing GCSE and who then progress to study the subject at A-level or university will have a sound underpinning knowledge of this subject area.
Gives learners a real, in-depth understanding of how computer technology works
Provides excellent preparation for higher study and employment in the field of Computer Science.
Develops critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills through the study of computer programming
Unit 1: Computing Systems
This unit provides 40% of the mark. This unit covers the course theory, including topics such as the use of binary, the representation of data within a computer, the function of commonly used hardware and software, the legal, moral cultural and ethical issues involved when developing software.
Unit 2: Algorithms and Programming
This unit provides 40% of the mark. This unit is primarily concerned with teaching students how to program. This involves introducing students to the programming languages Python and Visual Basic. Students are set a number of programming tasks of increasing complexity, as well as being taught a framework for understanding the commands and structures found in most programming languages. The final exam presents students with questions which both test their knowledge of the subject, but also their ability to solve algorithm problems under time pressure.
Unit 3: Programming Project
This unit provides 20% of the A2 mark. The student will choose a computing problem to work through according to the guidance in the specification.
Analysis of the problem
Design of the solution
Development of the solution using a programming language of their choice
Candidates wanting to study A Level Computing would have preferably achieved a grade B at GCSE Computing or an equivalent GCSE ICT qualification. Computing is a valuable skill and as such would be beneficial to the majority of students, and relevant to a range of careers.
Throughout the school year students are offered various opportunities to take part in school trips. So far this year the department has run the following trips and events;
Hour of Code - Activity week whereby students participated in various coding challenges.
The students have an opportunity to apply for a place on a week long trip to Silicon Valley in San Francisco. Here the students are given the chance to visit offices such as Google and Microsoft and have speakers talk to them about life in the technology industry. This trip has been hugely successful in promoting girls especially to consider a career in the fields of technology.
The computer suites are available to students after school. There are also computers available in the library.
Coding club is aimed at the upper school students and sessions are on Tuesday and Thursday afterschool. The aim of the club is to help students with their programming skills. The classes are run by qualified teachers in programming skills.
Tuesday lunchtime: Aimed at Year 7 & 8 students the club allows students to combine their creative skills with technical skills in Flash.