Falinge Park High School
Opening Doors; Unlocking Potential
“From phones to cars to medicine, technology touches every part of our lives. If you can create technology, you can change the world.”
– Susan Wojcicki, Senior Vice President, Google
Compelling Learning in Computing
Computing skills and understanding are more vital now than ever. Traditional industries, markets and workplaces have been totally transformed. New products, technologies and applications develop and become part of our lives with such breath-taking rapidity that the national curriculum shift from IT to “computing” is a welcome one.
We aim to design and deliver compelling learning experiences to enthuse and equip our young people with the crucial computing skills and knowledge they need to succeed in the 21st century and to inspire them with the incredible possibilities opened up by technology.
We understand they must know not just how to use computers, but how computer systems work, designed and programmed, understand the hardware and software, the Internet and the rapidly expanding world of digital communications effectively.
Computer science incorporates techniques and methods for solving problems and advancing knowledge,including a distinct way of thinking and working. It allows pupils to tackle problems, to break them down into solvable chunks and to devise algorithms to solve them. This aligns perfectly with our school vision for creativity.
Through specialist teaching, use of relevant and emerging tools/services and resources (including MOOCs), guided discovery and collaborative learning approaches, pupils will develop computational thinking skills enabling them to become resilient problem solvers; ones who are creative and able to apply their skills and understanding effectively and responsibly within their personal and shared learning networks and digital communities.
There are three main strands within Computing. These are summarised below.
Computer Science – the scientific and practical study of computation: what can be computed, how to compute it, and how computation may be applied to the solution of problems.
Information Technology – how computers and telecommunications equipment work, and how they may be applied to the storage, retrieval, transmission and manipulation of data.
Digital Literacy – developing the ability to effectively, responsibly, safely and critically navigate, evaluate and create digital artefacts using a range of digital technologies.
Our units of work at Key Stage 3 have been designed to develop pupils’ specialist subject vocabulary, knowledge, practical and problem-solving skills, understanding and technical ability.
Our aim is to ensure pupils are prepared for Key Stage 4 so that they:
- understand and can apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation (CS)
- can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems (CS)
- Can analytically evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, solve problems (IT)
- are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology. (DL)
The creation of digital artefacts is integral to much of the learning. These may take the form of a digital image, computer program, app, spreadsheet, 3D animation, printed or electronic publication.
In Year 7:
- Term 1 – pupils learn about password and electronic safety and the need to cultivate a positive digital footprint.
- They learn to use email, the internet and online communication services.
- Term 2 – pupils conduct an investigation into web apps and associated technology.
- They learn how to design and create a web app, then apply their skill and understanding to design and create their own.
- Term 3 – we seek to develop pupils’ computational thinking using a graphical programming language (Scratch).
- They learn the methods of decomposition, abstraction, pattern recognition and algorithm design. Furthermore they investigate, debug, plan, create and refine their own programs.
In Year 8:
- Term 1 – we reinforce pupils’ esafety understanding. We also further develop their computational thinking skills and introduce them to text based programming (Python). Pupils learn further programming techniques and develop their technical ability to code solutions.
- Term 2 – pupils learn how to create and manipulate digital images using a range of editing tools/techniques and investigate bit/colour depth. Furthermore they learn about binary, binary addition and conversion.
- Term 3 – pupils research and investigate hardware, software and computer networks. In addition, they learn about spreadsheets to develop their competence and understanding with tools/techniques, formatting and formulae in order to produce a quiz about hardware/software.
As pupils progress into Key Stage 4 the expectation is to develop strategies and confidence to work more independently and handle tasks of increasing complexity.
Pupils will be taught working methods, project management and revision skills for controlled assessments and examinations. These are integral to becoming an effective learner, being transferable to other subjects and will be beneficial to learning post 16.
For those who do not choose an IT qualification:
- Term 1 – pupils’ esafety learning is further reinforced. They have the opportunity to develop advanced technical ability in the creation/manipulation of digital assets and web app creation.
- Term 2 – pupils will learn about hardware, software and computer networks. Annual revisions to learning units means that these pupils have not studied this in the last academic year.
- Term 3 – pupils learn about the origins/development of GPS and associated technology. Additionally they learn HTML and how it is used for web-design/maintenance. Pupils will develop technical ability in order to create their own website about geocaching.
For pupils who choose Computing or CiDA, Year 9 core IT becomes their ‘foundation’ year for these qualifications seeking to extend their knowledge, understanding and technical proficiency in the areas most relevant to their chosen course of study before they progress onto the qualification proper in Year 10/11.
As qualifications are in a period of reform, rather than itemise the specific units and assessment weightings we believe it is more useful to provide the following overview. Therefore, regardless of qualification, pupils will aim to develop the ability to:
- knowledge and understanding of existing/future hardware, networks and software/services
- knowledge and understanding of the existing/future use and positive/negative impact of ICT in relation to their own and other’s identity and privacy, communications, leisure, work, commerce, education and health
- knowledge and understanding of the legislation relating to computers/computer use
- ability to analyse real-life problems to identify how ICT is or could be used and identifying solutions and success criteria
- researching; selecting and using appropriate resources, keeping records, and showing awareness of copyright and relevant legal matters
- design; publication and system design showing accurate software selection and the ability to incorporate feedback
- implementation; producing solutions and presenting ideas to explain development work
- self and peer evaluation
In order to “unlock” the potential of our pupils we offer daily, lunch-time ‘drop-in’ sessions for using computers/the internet. These are for pupils in all years for homework/personal study.
In addition, we run clubs, annual competitions, events and trips throughout the year. Pupils have participated in coding activities with MoSI, getting “hands-on” with Raspberry Pi, had opportunities to create and submit games concepts for the BAFTA Young Games Designer competition, programmed drones and undertaken STEM challenges, developed animations, seen and found out more about emerging technologies such as augmented and virtual reality at EON, Manchester, and most recently worked with experts and mentors from IBM and Manchester University at their ThinkIT event.
Next year, we look forward to receiving our BBC Microbits for Year 7 pupils.
We are always looking to recruit pupil champions (experts) to help out in lessons, to run or support extra-curricular clubs/sessions, and to help/advise others about using the computers and staying safe.