Information Communication Technology and Computing are continually changing and expanding fields in today's society. The importance of being digitally literate is high on most employers' agendas.
At Cockermouth we provide interesting and exciting opportunities for all students to improve their knowledge and skills in Computing and ICT. We want out students to understand how and where computers are used in Business, Industry and at home. Our students need to understand how computer technology works so that they can use it to its full potential, putting their skills to good use when solving everyday problems and working creatively in school and beyond.
Key Stage 3
At Key Stage 3, all students have an hour of discrete Computing each week
From Year 7 onwards students are taught to design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world situations. They use two or more programming languages (including block languages such as Scratch, Snap and text based languages such as Python) to solve a variety of problems and develop modular programs that use procedures or functions.
Students undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals.
Underpinning all of this is the need to understand a range of ways to use technology safely, respectfully, responsibly and securely, including protecting one’s online identity and privacy; recognise inappropriate content, contact and conduct and know how to report concerns.
Key Stage 4
ICT and Computing are a popular optional subject at Key Stage 4 as students are increasingly aware that employers expect them to have either an ICT or Computing Qualification. Cockermouth School currently offers GCSE ICT, GCSE Computer Science and BTEC Creative Media).
As can be seen below, there is a significant difference between ICT and Computer Science, the two should be seen as complimentary subjects.
What is Computer Science?
Computer Science is the study of how computers and computer systems work and how they are built and programmed. Its primary aspects are drawn from the disciplines of Engineering, Mathematics, and the Sciences.
What is ICT?
Information and Communication Technology is the study of the systems that are used throughout everyday life and work to allow humans to develop, share and process information.
Computer Science GCSE
Learning to program is a core component of the Computer Science course. At Cockermouth students learn to program using Visual Basic.net, which we then continue to use for A Level Computer Science. By the end of the course, students will become confident at reading and writing programs and be able to reason about code.
They will be able to apply their skills to solve real problems and produce robust programs. Learning how types of data are represented in a computer is an intrinsic element of the course as well as gaining practical experience of using SQL to handle data stored in a structured database.
This course emphasises problem solving skills. Practical work, worth 60% of the final mark, tests a student's ability to solve problems through writing new software, and breaking them into manageable pieces. e main language used at GCSE is Visual Basic.net.
(From 2015, Computer Science counts as a science option in the EBacc measure in secondary school performance tables.)
Information and Communication Technology GCSE
The ICT syllabuses are designed to encourage students to develop a wide variety of skills within a 'real-life' context. From the first lesson they have to be aware of the audience and plan, design and test a solution fit for purpose.
Students will explore how digital technology impacts on the lives of individuals, organisations and society. They learn about current and emerging digital technologies and the issues raised by their use in a range of contexts.
Students work with a range of digital tools and techniques to create and produce effective ICT solutions in a range of contexts. Students learn to reflect critically on their own and others’ use of ICT and to adopt safe, secure and responsible practice.
BTEC Level 1 Certificate in Creative Media Production
This is a two year vocational course worth 2 GCSEs at levels D to G. The course is designed to equip students with an introduction to, and practical skills in Creative Media Production. This can lead to further study or future employment within the Media sector. Projects are interesting and cover different areas of media; for example Desk Top Publishing or Digital Photography.
Key Stage 5
The ICT and Computing Department offers two courses at Key Stage 5, catering to a wide range of student interests and learning preferences.
The WJEC A Level ICT course places a strong emphasis on using computer applications to create solutions to problems using a wide range of ICT skills, such as developing effective presentation skills, use of spreadsheets and creating database systems and solutions. Students learn about the use of ICT in business and industry and the legal implications of using ICT.
The AQA A Level Computer Science course moves that emphasis to developing a wide range of problem solving skills, understanding and developing new software and, it goes to the heart of how a computer functions from the lowest level. Every student who studies Computer Science leaves with a broad technical knowledge and the ability to write their own programs and software in VB.Net and other programming languages of their choice. Computer programming is becoming a necessary skill in a number of different disciplines – undergraduate students reading Physics, Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science must all learn how to program and a head-start can be vital.
Outside the Classroom
Where possible we like to invite Universities business and industry in to work with our students, and provide opportunities for them to visit local companies and Universities to develop their understanding of opportunities in Computing and ICT. We have strong links with Lancaster University Computing department. We also encourage students to take part in coding opportunities outside of school such as the Cyber Security Challenge and Young Rewired State.
ICT rooms are open from 8.30am to 5.pm daily for students who wish to study, and beyond these times by negotiation with staff. In addition, ICT rooms are available for study and are supervised by teaching staff and learning supervisors at lunch times with specific rooms allocated to different year groups.