Computer Science & IT
Welcome to Computer Science – working to grow pupil numbers, providing exciting opportunities for pupils and staff alike.
In a nutshell, Computer Science deals with the theoretical foundations of information and computation, taking a scientific and practical approach to computation and its applications.
It is considered by many to be a foundational science – one which makes other knowledge and achievements possible. The study of computer science involves systematically studying methodical processes (such as algorithms) in order to aid the acquisition, processing, storage, communication of, and access to, information. This is done by analysing the feasibility, structure, expression and mechanisation of these processes and how they relate to this information.
Our courses at all levels are fundamentally based on ‘programming/coding’, useful skills in the digital economies of the twenty-first century in their own right, but even more importantly we recognise the need to help prepare the next generation for the responsibility of taking major decisions in fields such as law, manufacturing, business & commerce and the like as the development of robots and artificial intelligence continue their dramatic progress.
The AQA GCSE course (specification 8520) is about programming. The formal subject content covers a large sweep of theoretical computer understanding but is always expected to be delivered holistically and the practical nature of the subject is used to achieve this. It is primarily a programming course and it is from this base that pupils later discover and understand the formal definitions and procedures of topics including data types, structures, program flow control, scope of variables, error handling and algorithms. Pupils will also be given grounding in the software development life cycle and in appropriate technologies like networks, client- server models and database concepts. There are two examined papers ‘Computational Thinking and Problem Solving’, and ‘Theoretical Knowledge’, and a 20-hour controlled assessment where pupils demonstrate their ability to code a solution.
The specification provides progression from the Shell course by building on the knowledge and skills taught.
At A level (AQA 7517) the programming is expanded to encompass a range of paradigms (procedural, object-oriented and functional programming languages) and topics covering data structures, algorithms, computer organisation and architecture are considerably deepened and formalised. The fundamentals of communications and networking, databases and ‘big data’ are all investigated and considered as the consequences of computing. One of the two examined papers is sat online and the other is a written exam. All pupils define their own practical project to be designed, developed and tested for a ‘client’ through a 50-hour, non-examined assessment.
The newly constituted Babbage Society is already inviting in speakers in fields as diverse as ‘Cybersecurity and Nation States in the 21st Century’ and ‘Robot Ethics’ and the department runs regular trips to inspirational, motivational and engaging days for Upper and Lower School pupils organised by universities and educational partners.
Lower School Activities and Shell Circus extend the range of computer contexts that pupils meet with an opportunity to explore the interface with the outside world through hardware and the techniques of the ‘Internet of Things’.
G B Shearn BSc (Head of Department)
Dr D G Roberts MSc PhD
K G A Smith BA