Computer Science Faculty
Our curriculum aims to stimulate creativity, teach programming skills and provide a deep theoretical understanding that will enable our students to take a leading role in the digital economy. Using an analogy from JFK, if we condensed the 50,000 years of recorded history into a time span of but a half-century, the first 40 years saw the use of animal skins for warmth, 10 years ago, man emerged from his caves, 5 year ago began to write, 2 years ago Christianity began, the printing press is under a year old. Last month, saw electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes become available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power. Yet, an impartial observer is bound to conclude that next week and next month will be all about the rise of the silicon chip and the growth of the digital age.
We believe that every child in this school should learn how to program, because it teaches them how to think. An understanding of how to build and work with software, will be part of the lived experiences of all our students, irrespective of how they use their talents and choice of future profession, from doctors to farmers or fashion designers to scientists. The seminal 2012 Royal Society report ‘Shutdown or Restart’ recommended a focus on three distinct skill areas: IT, Computer Science and digital literacy. We believe that this division is helpful and it guides our curriculum and option choices.
Programming is a skill that draws on the logic of mathematics but requires real practice akin to learning to play a musical instrument or excel in a sport. We acknowledge that the challenge of coding can be intimidating for many students. Programming can be broken down into simple steps and then develops creativity and ingenuity. Once the links are made within and across the curriculum, this sequence of skills will be essential for the future economic wellbeing of our students. The vocabulary within the curriculum will be a core focus across KS3 and KS4, where students will often be assessed in vocabulary tests to ensure their familiarity with key terms. We will interleave ideas across KS3, with sequences of units of study that are centred on an IT or Computer Science topic. The programming will build from the general principles of abstraction and graphically based sequencing to command line programming in Python at KS3. We will inspire students with the rich heritage of the North West of England in creating the technologies that are shaping the modern world and encourage them to discover and celebrate these pioneers and their discoveries. There will be lessons across the years that enrich their understanding of binary and logical operators. We will recognise the role of networks and deliver sequences to expand on hardware and its connectivity. At the same time, we recognise the economic need for clear delivery of skills in spreadsheets, databases, web-development and animation and these will flow across the years. Each year will have a synoptic examination and at KS3 all students will produce a portfolio of evidence in an e-book.