The department at Whitworth Community High School aims to stretch the students’ understanding and skills across a wide range of computing topics including programming, cyber security and digital literacy. The ethos of the department is to demonstrate, embrace, evolve and innovate using a number of different approaches. We aim to open students’ minds to the vast possibilities that are available to them in the technological age.
The national curriculum for Computing aims to ensure that all students:
can understand & apply the fundamental principles & concepts of computing, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation
can analyse problems computationally, & have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.
All stakeholders are clear in how the subject is delivered, ensuring our students leave with the skills to fully embrace a future of rapidly advancing computer technology. Computing skills are a major factor in enabling children to be confident, creative and independent learners and it is our intention that children have every opportunity available to allow them to achieve this.
The intention is that this will lead to making progress in the following areas:
- Increased student capacity and resilience
- Reduction in gender imbalance
- Student collaboration and digital leaders
- Innovators through a love of programming
After making the transition from primary to secondary school students embark on their learning journey in Computing and we encourage students to reach their potential in a wide variety of activities. This ensures that students thrive within their lessons and receive a high level of challenge. Computing is a popular subject that our students embrace from Year 7 through to 11 for 1 hour a week.
When students join us in Year 7, they learn about how to be a good digital citizen and develop an understanding of a variety of software within the Google Suite. Students move on to text-based programming using a BBC MicroBit where they learn about sequence, selection and iteration. In the final term students learn how spreadsheets use mathematical data to manage calculations using formulae such as =vlookup and countif.
In Year 8, students learn about how to protect computer operating systems, networks, and data from cyber-attacks. Students move on to working behind the scenes to craft web pages through HTML and CSS languages. In the final term students learn how to edit photos, apply effects, filters, add text, crop or resize pictures through an online editor called Photopea.
The final year of Key Stage 3, students start Year 9 off with learning about the internal components that make up a computer and develop an understanding of the fetch-decode-execute cycle. Students move on to advanced text-based programming building on their understanding from sequence, selection and iteration to design robust programs to include other programming techniques such as reading and writing to a file. Finally, students learn about how all data that we want a computer to process needs to be converted into this binary format.
At Key Stage 4, all students continue to study Computing as part of their enrichment curriculum. Students develop their capability, creativity and knowledge in computer science, digital media and information technology through learning about mobile app development using an online editor called Thunkables. Also at Key Stage 4, our students are given the opportunity to study GCSE Computer Science for 2 hours a week following the J277 OCR specification.
Across the years, transferable skills will be developed and students are given opportunities to build on the fundamentals developed early on. Across school resilience is a key message and is therefore promoted within the programming elements of Computing.
Our approach to teaching and learning supports our curriculum by ensuring that lessons build on prior learning and provide sufficient opportunity for guided and independent practice. We use Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of Instruction (2012) to develop our teaching practice:
- Begin a lesson with a short review of previous learning
- Present new material in small steps with student practice after each step
- Ask a large number of questions and check the responses of all students
- Provide models
- Guide student practice
- Check for student understanding
- Obtain a high success rate
- Provide scaffolds for difficult tasks
- Require and monitor independent practice
- Engage students in weekly and monthly review
Students are assessed both within and after each topic using a framework that takes into consideration theoretical knowledge as well as practical ability. Each test utilises questions from past papers. This prepares students for the final examination and provides staff with a clear understanding of students’ progress and provides opportunities for targeted intervention. Within each unit students are expected to make progress based on their starting point and this enables staff to set high aspirations for all students.
Our students have time built into the Scheme of Learning solely focused on careers in Computing or jobs that have a heavy reliance on Computer technology. This involves students utilising online tools such as the ‘National Careers Service’, ‘Career Pilot’ and ‘Discover Creative Careers’ to present research findings on an innovative presentation software, Prezi. Information is gathered on job Working arrangements, travel, work life balance, steps to get to the job, job satisfaction, benefits/perks of the job and salary.
Students thrive in the creative technological environment provided at school and use the school’s online learning platform in their everyday studies. Students go on to study Computer Science at leading universities and students specialising in other disciplines take with them the key transferable analytical, problem solving and technical skills learned in studying computer science, as well as the ability to learn new skills quickly for themselves.
In 2022, the Computing department revamped the extra-curricular opportunities available to all students. Students can embark in the physical computing world by using the ‘Makey Makeys’ to build their own circuit board and program their own minicomputer to do the unimaginable such as play the piano with bananas. Students can also enhance their programming skills that they have learnt in computing lessons to program a drone or to create their own computer game.