Through Computer Science, we aim to ensure our students are well-equipped to play an active and positive role in an increasingly digital society. Technology is constantly evolving, and trends change regularly, but by ensuring our students have a good understanding of computer hardware, software and terminology we believe they will be well placed to quickly understand how to use other technologies effectively, safely and efficiently.
We know that our students are avid users of technology. All users of technology leave a digital footprint and it is crucial that our students understand the implications of the actions they take in the digital world. This is considered from a theoretical view point, that is a computer system’s response to a sequence of instructions, but also from an ethical viewpoint. By ensuring that students begin to consider the ethical issues within computing, our aim is that those students who involve themselves in the design and development of computer applications do so in a way that has a positive impact on society.
The computational thinking we aim to develop through our curriculum provides students with a problem-solving process that can be beneficial in a wide range of subjects, not just Computer Science. The skill of actively thinking through problems and creating solutions using the structured and proven method of computational thinking is also beneficial to students in many contexts outside of the classroom and is highly valued in the workplace.
To achieve these aims, our students experience an ambitious curriculum which builds on concepts and constructs within each year and as they move from year to year. A solid understanding of computer science theory underpins all practical work and ensures students gain an in-depth knowledge of each topic and are well placed to continually build on their learning.
In addition to the curriculum, the department offers a range of extra-curricular opportunities so that students can focus on particular areas of interest, whether that be programming, hardware or computational thinking.
Key Stage 3 students can get involved through an ever-increasing number of clubs and by participating in various national competitions. Our sixth formers run Homebrew Club, which provides opportunities for students to undertake a variety of Python-based projects and solve a range of unique problems. Most recently, we entered several teams of Year 8 girls into the CyberFirst competition, which required them to solve cryptographic challenges to score points. Both teams performed well and achieved passage into a later stage of the competition.
Students in Key Stage 4 and 5 are given the chance to compete in the Bebras Computing Challenge, a national competition based on computational thinking. In recent years, students have been hugely successful with a number achieving the Gold award and earning a place in subsequent rounds.
We’re also very keen to open students’ eyes to the ways in which their learning can be applied in life beyond school, and are currently developing a series of excursions to allow students to experience this for themselves, including a visit to Amazon’s warehouse and Bletchley Park.