Computer Science & IT

Computer Science deals with the theoretical foundations of information and computation, taking a scientific and practical approach to its study and applications. The discipline involves systematically examining methodical processes (such as algorithms) in order to aid the acquisition, processing, storage, communication of and access to information. This is achieved by analysing their feasibility, structure, expression and mechanisation and how they relate to the information.

Our courses at all levels are fundamentally based on programming and coding. These are useful skills in the digital economies of the 21st century in their own right, but we also recognise our role in preparing the next generation for the responsibility of making major decisions in pivotal fields such as law, manufacturing, business and commerce as the development of robots and artificial intelligence continues its dramatic progress.

The AQA GCSE course (specification 8520) is about programming. The formal subject content covers a large sweep of theoretical understanding but is delivered holistically. It is primarily a programming course and it is from this base that pupils later discover and understand the formal definitions and procedures of data types, structures, program flow control, scope of variables, error handling and algorithms. Pupils are given a grounding in the software development life cycle and in appropriate technologies such as 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.

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 Babbage Society invites speakers on diverse topics, such as ‘Cybersecurity and Nation States in the 21st Century’ and ‘Robot Ethics’, and the Department offers inspirational, motivational and engaging days for Upper and Lower School pupils organised by universities and educational partners.

Lower School activities and the Shell Circus offer pupils an opportunity to explore the interface with the outside world through hardware and the techniques of the Internet of Things.