Sutton Grammar School was one of the first schools in the country to make the change from teaching ICT to Computer Science from year 7 all the way through to year 13. Computer Science is very popular at our school, and our lessons are designed to engage students who wish to pursue the subject beyond key stage three as well as those who choose other careers. We incorporate the concepts of abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation combined with practical computing skills into our lessons so that all students have the tools needed to navigate a world that will include technology in all aspects of daily life.
In addition to our ambitious Computer Science curriculum, students have an abundance of enrichment opportunities designed to complement their understanding of computational thinking. Computer Science students participate in the Bebras Computational Thinking Challenge, the British Algorithmic Olympiad, the British Informatics Olympiad, CyberCenturion, and the Royal Institute’s Computer Science Saturday workshops, to name a few. In addition to external competitions, the department has a student-run Computer Science Society that publishes its own magazine titled “Hello World.” We also run an assortment of student-led programming clubs.
The Local Authority also provides the school with a web-based E-Mail system, and each student is given an E-Mail Address. The use of Information Technology in the school is subject to an Acceptable Use Policy. All students are required to sign this document. Importantly, the document sets out rules for the use of the computer labs and the Internet at school, and for the use of the Local Authority’s E-Mail system.
The school provides computers for students to use in several labs with one especially dedicated for sixth-form students as well as computer facilities in the library. Students are able to use school labs for completing homework, further research, or for printing.
The start of KS3 is often the first time students have encountered Computer Science as a discreet subject in school. Due to our admissions policy that allows for multiple feeder schools, we see students with a wide range of prior experiences using computers with some having next to no experience and others quite capable from the start.
Our first directive is to develop confident computer users so that all students are able to access the technology and services needed to have a full and complete, as well as safe, educational experience in secondary school. To better achieve this goal, our year-7 students have two lessons per week in Computer Science. We also aim to introduce students to the basic Computer Science concepts of abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation that are part of the National Curriculum. Students are supported through a daily Computing club, available before school, during lunch, and after school.
The KS3 Computer Science curriculum covers safe and responsible ways of working with computers. Students are taught how to work with digital images. Websites are created using HTML and CSS. Our spreadsheet unit offers a gentle introduction to functions and formulas. Databases help teach data types and validation.
Students are taught programming from year 7 using a visual environment with Microbits. In year 8, students transition from Microbits to a text-based environment with Greenfoot Java. Year 9 students spend an extended amount of time learning Greenfoot Java so that they are able to design and create a playable video game.
Additional units cover digital safety, artificial intelligence, and logic. Most Computer Science concepts from the national curriculum are introduced in KS3 so that students have a solid foundation for making the choice as to whether they want to continue studying Computer Science as an option in KS4.
Year 7 Computer Science
Students in year 7 have two Computer Science lessons per week to ensure that they master the basic skills needed to use technology effectively in this department and throughout the school. The following units are covered during the first year.
- Using Computers Safely, Effectively, and Responsibly
- Working with Digital Images
- Website Design and Creation Using HTML and CSS
- Spreadsheet Modelling
- Database Creation
- Microbit Programming
Year 8 Computer Science
Students in year 8 have three Computer Science lessons per fortnight to continue to cement their learning. The following units are covered during the second year of key stage 3.
- Understanding Computers
- Spreadsheet Modelling
- Database Development
- Computational Thinking and Logic
- Microbit Programming
- Introduction to Greenfoot Java
Year 9 Computer Science
Students in year 9 have three Computer Science lessons per fortnight to build on prior learning and to support GCSE option choices. The following units are covered during the final year of key stage 3.
- Programming with Greenfoot Java
- Advanced Java Programming and Video Game Design
- Computer Networks
- Computer Crime and Cyber Security
- AI and Machine Learning
- App Development
Computer Science became available to study at GCSE level in 2013. The specification has proven to be quite popular with the boys with a significant portion of the cohort choosing this option in year 9. Our results are some of the best in the country with a majority of our students earning grades 8-9, and students who take this course can be assured that they will be in good standing to continue studying Computer Science at A level.
Year 9 students choose GCSE options starting in March. We teach the OCR J277 Computer Science course.
Students will learn to program in the console version of C++ during this course. C++ follows on well from our KS3 use of Greenfoot Java to teach video game design. Students will already be familiar with the structure and syntax of a C-based programming language from their exposure to Java so the transition to C++ runs smoothly.
The Computer Science GCSE course includes formal assessments in both theory and practical work with algorithms as well as a non-examined programming project that students complete in school under a teacher’s supervision.
OCR’s GCSE (9–1) in Computer Science will encourage students to:
- Understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation
- Analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including designing, writing and debugging programs
- Think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
- Understand the components that make up digital systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems
- Understand the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society
- Apply mathematical skills relevant to Computer Science.
For students wishing to take the subject beyond GCSE level, we offer a full A level course in Computer Science. We do not offer the AS level.
The A level Computer Science course expands upon the knowledge gained at GCSE level, and introduces System Architecture, Assembly Language and Binary Arithmetic. The course also gives students an introduction to the features of various generations/levels of Programming Languages. A lot of emphasis is placed upon practical skills in Year 12 and, in Year 13, the coursework assignment comprises an entire module.
Students sit an on-screen exam with written theory questions about programming and programming tasks, followed by a longer written paper both at the end of the second year. The bespoke piece of coursework will be assessed and the marks added together with the two written papers to earn the final qualification. The topics studied are based on things that are happening in the real world. Students develop a computing solution to a real problem as well as getting to grips with really useful programming topics.
In the A level coursework assignment students are required to produce a data-driven software package to solve a real-life problem. Students are encouraged to seek out a real-life problem on their own, often drawing on outside interests or links with real businesses. Students work independently to produce a computerized solution. Students are required to pay attention to User Interface Design, System Testing and System Maintenance considerations, and typically develop their software using a suitable, High Level Programming Language, such as Java, Microsoft VB.NET, C#, Python or PHP. Documentation is extremely important throughout the whole process as students must provide evidence of the technical skills they have employed in a written report that will be assessed by their teacher and must reference the appropriate development stages of their solution.
A theory paper constitutes 40% of the final marks, the practical on-screen task constitutes 40% with the coursework awarding the final 20%.
Due to the rigorous nature of this subject, students wanting to take Computer Science at A level must have a GCSE in Computer Science with a grade 7 as a minimum entry requirement.