Information Communication Technology and Computer Science are continually changing and expanding fields in today's society. The importance of being digitally literate is high on most employers' agendas.
At Cockermouth School we provide interesting and exciting opportunities for all students to improve their knowledge and skills in Computer Science and ICT. We want our 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.
Online safety is taught in all year groups and students take part in additional activities such as the Bebras problem solving challenge.
In year 7 all of our students have 3 discrete Computer Science lessons a fortnight. In year 8 and 9 they have 4 discrete Computer Science lessons a fortnight.
Key Stage 3
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 Snap, and text based languages such as Python) to solve a variety of problems and develop modular programs that use procedures or functions. They also learn to program Lego Dacta in our Communications and Robotics centre.
Topics are as follows:
Digital literacy and online safety, algorithmic thinking, programming Lego, BTOB programming, data representation, Python, end of each unit assessment, problem solving – Bebras - assessment
In Year 8 they learn to program micro bits in both block languages and Python, develop models and simulations and data handling skills. Students also undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals.
Topics as follows:
Micro bits and block programming, data handling, modelling, Python skills development, micro bits with Python, digital literacy and online safety, end of each unit assessment, problem solving – Bebras - assessment
In Year 9 students develop programming skills in preparation for GCSE, they learn about cyber security, develop their understanding of what happens when you take the lid off the machine and understanding of HTML and web design.
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.
Topics as follows:
Visual basic, encryption, inside the machine, digital literacy and online safety, web design, data handling, end of each unit assessment, problem solving – Bebras - assessment
At KS3 as well as regular on going assessment during each unit, all students complete an end of unit assessment.
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 Computer Science, BTEC Creative Media (legacy year 11 only), Cambridge Creative iMedia and the TLM level 1 open systems and enterprise course.
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. Students also learn problem-solving skills vital for future careers in business and industry. The primary aspects for Computer Science 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 School 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.
There are two theory papers each worth 40% of the GCSE and one controlled assessment involving practical work, worth 20% of the final mark, this tests a student's ability to solve problems through writing new software, and decomposing the problem to find acceptable solutions. The 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.)
Year 10 OCR GCSE Computer Science
Data representation, system architecture, networks, hardware, the internet, programming in Visual Basic, end of each unit assessment, problem solving – Bebras – Assessment.
Year 11 OCR GCSE Computer Science
Algorithms, software, programming project, robust programming and testing, legal and ethical issues, cyber security, translators and facilities, computational logic, end of each unit assessment, problem solving – Bebras – Assessment.
Cambridge Creative iMedia
Cambridge Nationals in Creative iMedia are media sector-focused, including film, television, web development, gaming and animation, and have IT at their heart. They provide knowledge in a number of key areas in this field from pre-production skills to digital animation and have a motivating, hands-on approach to both teaching and learning.
There are two compulsory units Unit 1 pre-production skills, and Unit 2 creating digital graphics, and two optional units e.g. web design and creating interactive multimedia products.
Unit 1 is an external exam all other units are coursework.
Year 10 Cambridge Nationals Creative iMedia Topics
Pre-production skills – externally assessed unit, creating digital graphics, creating web sites, creating interactive multimedia products, end of unit assessments.
BTEC Level 1 Certificate in Creative Media Production (year 11 only)
This is a two-year vocational course worth 1 GCSE 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 and are portfolio based.
Unit 2 - Desktop Publishing Software
Unit 8 - Exploring Digital Photography
Unit 9 - Developing Animation
Unit 7 - Developing Video Products
Unit 12 - Website Software
TLM Open Systems and Enterprise
This course develops a range of ICT skills. Unit 1 Improving productivity using ICT is a mandatory unit which is externally assessed; all other units are portfolio based. These units include IT security, using collaborative technologies, basic e-safety and staying safe on-line, using technology to support working with others, web site design and spreadsheet software.
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.
AQA A Level Computer Science
The AQA A Level Computer Science course emphasises development of 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. The course is taught in normal computer rooms as well as our purpose built A Level Communications Lab which is not on the main school network. Students are expected to practice their programming skills outside of lessons and therefore do not have to rely on access to general sixth form computing facilities but have access to Computer Science specific clusters of machines outside of teaching lessons. 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.
Year 12 Computer Science
Fundamentals of programing, problem solving and theory of computation, data representation, hardware and software, computer organisation and architecture, communication technologies’ and consequences, end of unit assessment all units.
Year 13 Computer Science
Data structures, algorithms, regular languages, the internet, databases and software development, OOP and functional programming, end of unit assessment, programming language paper 1, NEA individual project work. Each unit has an end of unit test together with mock examinations, TLM Open Systems and enterprise Level 3.
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 Lego challenge, the Cyber Security Challenge and the Vex Star struck competition. A Level students are encouraged to do a sustained period of work experience in the computing industry.
ICT rooms are open from 8.30am to 5pm 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.