COMPUTING CURRICULUM STATEMENT
At The King’s (The Cathedral) School, we are passionate about our computing curriculum being a method for empowering students to become successful digital natives in an ever-changing technological world. We will constantly ask the WHY behind their learning and not just the HOW. We have created a curriculum to provide students with a wide-ranging and stimulating curriculum that will develop their knowledge and cultural capital so that they are able to succeed in life. Our overarching aim is to get all students to be MASTERS of technology to such an extent that they can go on to have careers within Computing and make use of technology effectively in their everyday lives, without being entirely dependent on it. We aim to provide a computing education which prepares students to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. We want our students to be the creators of technology not the consumers and our broad curriculum which includes the 3 strands: computer science, information technology and digital literacy echoes this. Our curriculum is set up to have the aims of the National Curriculum at its heart and will be taught in a way that ensures progression of skills, and follows a sequence to build on previous learning. Computing skills are a contributing aspect in enabling students to be confident, competent, creative, and independent learners and it is our intention that students at King’s have every opportunity available to allow them to achieve this.
At Key Stage 2 the computing curriculum is planned so that all students apply and develop a broad range of skills such as designing, writing and debugging programs; using sequence, selection, and repetition; using logical reasoning; understanding computer networks including the Internet; using search technologies effectively; and using technology safely, respectfully and responsibly.
In Year 7 the computing curriculum is planned so that all students, irrespective of previous education before joining The King’s (The Cathedral) School, are all at the same starting point where they will be taught the ICT skills necessary for accessing the school network such as logging on to the school system, how to use email and signing into Microsoft Teams.
After embedding the basic skills to allow the students to use the school network successfully, we move onto E-safety and combine this with how to use ICT applications such as PowerPoint effectively. Students then move onto the history of computers which is designed to give students an understanding of how computers have changed over time. This leads seamlessly into a unit of work where the students consider the question ‘what is a computer’ (working with the input-process-output model and investigating input and output devices) and ‘how do computers work’ (introducing binary and important computer components).
Once the students understand how a computer works they then progress onto elements of programming (sequencing and algorithms) via the use of an online website (Blockly) where they have to determine the order of a sequence to solve a given problem. Next the BBC micro:bit, a pocket-sized computer, is introduced that shows the students how software and hardware work together. It is at this point that students are introduced to their first programming language which uses blocks to code a simple program, compile it and download it onto the mico:bit. This will develop their understanding of creating programs (using sequencing and iteration) and build on their understanding of problem-solving.
By this point Year 7 will be confident in uses of block programming so will go on to use Scratch (of which some but not all students will have had an introduction to in Year 6). Although Scratch is a second block programming coding language this one has a simple visual interface which allows the students to become more creative in their programs. Scratch promotes computational thinking skills and builds on the problem-solving skills from the last unit.
After using 2 block programming applications there is a natural progression to textual programming using Python. Students will use their knowledge on sequencing and iteration in conjunction with their problem-solving skills to program inputs/outputs/variables, and finally they will be introduced to the selection construct. Therefore, by the end of this unit the students will have been introduced to all 3 of the basic building blocks in programming (sequence, selection and iteration).
Finally, the end of Year 7 comes full circle, and we look at how computers are used in modern day society with a particular focus on robots and humanoids. We discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using robots in different settings and this will then lead into a discussion on the impact robots have had on jobs in the present day.
The Year 8 curriculum is designed to build on knowledge gained in Year 7 and give students opportunity to learn more than one programming language, so they start with HTML. This unit is completed over whole term as it requires students to use their digital literacy skills to research material on a given topic, then repurpose this information to create a prototype webpage/website and then all this planning will feed into the creation of a webpage/website. Year 8 then move onto using Edublocks which enables the revisiting of computing concepts introduced in Year 7 (sequence, selection & iteration). By this point in Year 8 students should have a sound understanding of the computing concepts of sequence, selection & iteration so they are given an opportunity to apply these to everyday situations to see if the concepts can be transferred successfully. It is at this point we familiarise students with the flowcharting ‘tool’ (Microsoft Visio) which is designed to help students to showcase their understanding of sequence, selection & iteration and also introduces them to a skill that is required at KS4. The last term in Year 8 is given over to Boolean Logic and Python programming. Even though students will not have realised it they will have used the principles of Boolean Logic in their last unit. Therefore, we use this time to formalise their understanding of the concept of using simple comparisons to help make decisions (Boolean Logic). Once this concept is understood students then revisit their programming knowledge from Year 7 and incorporate the use of Boolean Logic to write simple programs in Python.
The Year 9 curriculum is designed to build upon knowledge gained in Year 7 and 8 and allow students to explore computing concepts in greater depth to prepare them for KS4 should they wish to carry on studying the subject. They begin with investigating more complex algorithms such as searching and sorting data and look at why encryption and compression are needed in modern day communication – this will help them to be able to understand how data in transferred using their digital devices. Python is then revisited where students concentrate on the concepts of sequence, selection & iteration within the use of functions which is an essential feature of the KS4 curriculum. At this point student are taken away from the concepts of algorithm and programming and revisit ‘what is a computer’ and ‘how do computers work’ from Year 7 and use this knowledge to look at how networks and the Internet work (to include how data is transferred from one computer to the next safely and securely). The last programming project in Year 9 is used to bring together all the programming concepts that have been learnt in Years 7, 8 & 9. To end the KS3 curriculum Year 9 embark upon an independent task which challenges them to develop and demonstrate their digital, enterprise and employability skills. Students will complete badges (from the following topics: Citizen, Worker, Maker, Entrepreneur and Gamer) and as they complete each badge they collect points. iDEA badges have been mapped against several inputs including National Curricula and the Skills Builder Framework. This helps support life, employability and soft skills, as well as a range of specialist subjects such as enterprise and formal computing (digital literacy, computer science and IT). We end with this unit as it reinforces the work covered at KS3 and is designed to sustain interest for those who may not wish to study Computer Science at KS4; whilst challenging all students to work towards collecting 250 points to claim a Bronze Award and some students will move on and complete the Silver Award (400 points).
Key Stage 4
When students reach KS4 they build on the knowledge, understanding and skills established through the Computer Science elements of the Key Stage 3 curriculum. They will have already been introduced to many of the key areas of the OCR GCSE such as: Programming fundamentals (sequence, selection and iteration), Computer Components, Networks, Number Systems. At KS4 we follow guidance of delivery from OCR and customise it to allow us to revisit the topics studied in KS3. Throughout the course we interleave aspects of Component 1 (Computer systems) with Component 2 (Computational thinking, algorithms and programming) which increases the amount of information committed to students’ long-term memories. We start Year 10 with the mathematical skills needed for Computer Science as this is one of the topics that students find the hardest to understand and remember. After that we interleave the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science (abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation), analysing problems in computational terms (solving problems, including designing, writing and debugging programs) with understanding the components that make up digital systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems. We finish Year 11 with the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society as the rest of the course builds up to this topic.
Key Stage 5
When students reach KS5 they build on the knowledge, understanding and skills established through the Computer Science curriculum of Key Stage 4. As at KS4 we also follow the guidance of delivery from OCR of the A Level and customise it to allow us to revisit the topics studied in KS4. In Year 12 we start with the mathematical knowledge that is required for Computer Science. We do this first as we found that this is the topic that students need to regularly revisit over the course of the 2 years to enable mastery of it by the end of Year 13. After this we interleave aspects of Component 1 (Computer systems) with Component 2 (Algorithms and programming) which lays the foundation for the introduction of Programming project at the end of Year 12.
Formative and Summative Assessment
The purpose of assessment within Computing is to test the knowledge and practical skills of students throughout the varied topics that they study. This is done via observation of work, questioning (whole class and individual student) and peer and self-assessment. In the Computing curriculum a mix of formative and summative assessment opportunities have been built into the SOL to ensure that we are checking understanding and ensuring students have the correct skills to progress. There are end of unit assessments and other knowledge-based tests and quizzes which have been built into the Computing curriculum.
The computing curriculum is designed to revisit key computing concepts throughout the years from Year 7 to Year 11. Key vocabulary will be referred to in SOL and teaching resources.
We encourage our students to enjoy and value the curriculum we deliver. We know that students enjoy studying Computer Science as numbers at GCSE are steadily increasing, from 38 in 2021 to 44 in 2022. A-Level is in its 4th year at King’s and has established itself well - now getting a steady 16 students a year opting.
Progress of our computing curriculum is demonstrated through outcomes attainment at GCSE And A-Level is above the national average with this year having a positive SPI 0.87/ALIS 0.24. Increasing number of students choosing Computer Science as a HE destination.
KS5 (Year 12) students are currently mentoring KS4 (Year 11) students.
Extra-Curricular is an evolving section of the department. At present we have 5 Sixth Form prefects running Year 7 & Year 8 Computer Club and a Sixth Form Programming Society investigating how they can incorporate the ARDUINO platform into the Coding Club successfully.
Mrs Sharon Stimson (STS): Head of Computing Department
Mr Hayden Brader (HAB): Teacher of Computing and Academic Head of Year 7