Key Stage 3
Computer Science at KS3 emphasizes computational thinking. But rather than thinking about computers, or indeed trying to “think” like a computer, students develop the skill of looking at problems in a way that a computer can help us to solve them.
If you knew the bags in the image above had been wrongly labelled, would it be possible to work out what the correct labels should be by taking one piece of fruit from one bag? Could you write out or draw a diagram of the steps you would follow?
There are lots of skills involved in computational thinking, skills which are really helpful in other subjects and indeed in real life. Students for example learn to break down problems into small steps, use logical analysis and evaluate.
Computing has deep links with mathematics, science, and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of computing is computer science, where students are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, they are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content.
KS3 students should understand:
- how to use technology safely, respectfully, responsibly and securely
- the hardware and software components that make up computer systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems.
- how instructions are stored and executed within a computer system
- how various data types (including text, sounds and pictures) can be represented and manipulated digitally, in the form of binary digits
- simple Boolean logic [for example, AND, OR and NOT] in circuits and programming
- how numbers can be represented in binary, and be able to carry out simple operations on binary numbers for example, binary addition, and conversion between binary and decimal
- several key algorithms that reflect computational thinking for example, ones for sorting and searching, and use logical reasoning to compare the utility of alternative algorithms for the same problem
- what algorithms are; how they are implemented as programs on digital devices that programs execute by following precise and unambiguous instructions
- design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems
Programming is an ideal way to put these skills into practice. Students:
- use two or more programming languages, at least one of which is textual, to solve a variety of computational problems
- make appropriate use of data structures for example, lists, tables or arrays
- design and develop modular programs that use procedures or functions
- create and debug simple programs
- use logical reasoning to predict the behaviour of simple programs
Computer Science at KS3 allows students to:
- understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation
- analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
- evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
- be responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.
Students are equipped to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Students become become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world. Students gain the opportunity to study aspects of information technology and computer science at sufficient depth to allow them to progress to higher levels of study or to a professional career.
Key Stage 4
Students prepare for OCR GCSE in Computer Science.
Specification code: J276. Qualification number: 601/8355/X
Students develop their understanding and application of the core concepts in computer science. Students analyse problems in computational terms and devise creative solutions by designing, writing, testing and evaluating programs. The course is challenging, engaging and practical and encourages creativity and problem solving.
Download the examination specification in .pdf format
Component 01: Computer systems
Computer Systems introduces students to the central processing unit (CPU), computer memory and storage, wired and wireless networks, network topologies, system security and system software. Students also consider ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns.
Component 02: Computational thinking, algorithms and programming
This provides an opportunity to apply knowledge & understanding gained in component 01.
Students develop skills and understanding in computational thinking: algorithms, programming techniques, producing robust programs, computational logic, translators and data representation. The skills and knowledge developed will support the learner during the Programming Project.
Students develop their practical ability in the skills developed in components 01 and 02. They should define success criteria for a given problem, and then create suitable algorithms to achieve them . Students code their solutions in a suitable programming language for example Python. Students test and document program functionality. The success of their solution is evaluated and students reflect on potential future developments.
Students should be offered 20 hours timetabled time to complete their Programming Project. The Programming Project does not count towards a candidate’s final grade, but is a requirement of the course.
To achieve grade 8 candidates will be able to:
- demonstrate relevant and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of fundamental concepts and principles including digital systems and societal impacts
- effectively apply fundamental concepts, principles and mathematical skills, using sustained analytical, logical and evaluative computational thinking, to a wide range of complex problems
- develop and refine a complete solution that meets the requirements of a substantial problem.
To achieve grade 5 candidates will be able to:
- demonstrate mostly accurate and appropriate knowledge and understanding of fundamental concepts and principles including digital systems and societal impacts
- appropriately apply fundamental concepts, principles and mathematical skills, using analytical, logical and evaluative computational thinking, to a range of problems
- produce a working solution that meets most requirements of a substantial problem
To achieve grade 2 candidates will be able to:
- demonstrate limited knowledge and understanding of fundamental concepts and principles including digital systems and societal impacts
- apply fundamental concepts, principles and mathematical skills, using basic analytical and logical computational thinking, to straightforward problems with limited accuracy
- produce a partially working solution that meets some requirements of a substantial problem.