Key Stage 3: IT
We want students to be proficient, confident users of software apps and to be able to work independently with resilience. We aim to equip students with digital and technical skills and knowledge that will help them in these and other subjects, as well as in the real world.
Your child’s journey through IT in Years 7 and 8 will teach them digital awareness and safety, and how to use spreadsheet, database, presentation and desk-top publishing software. They will also use Scratch and BBC Microbits to teach coding and programming. We introduce the programming language Python and have recently begun using Turing Tumble Towers to physically build marble powered computers.
Key Stage 4: IT and/or Computer Science
Two separate GCSE courses are offered at Priestlands School; one in IT and one in Computer Science. Students can opt for either of them, or for both.
In Year 9 students choose to continue with both IT and Computer Science, just one, or neither. If they choose Computer Science their programming knowledge and skills are honed to prepare them for GCSE. If they choose IT, the modules include a Business Studies and a Media Studies focus, to give students a taste of these new subjects, in readiness for their GCSE choices.
We offer a National Diploma in Information Technologies in Years 10 and 11, which is the equivalent of a GCSE. This vocational qualification requires students to understand vitally important current topics such as how to keep data secure from malware and hackers, data laws, how to select and interpret data, and how to then decide upon a method of presenting it. The diploma also focuses on using different software apps and project planning tools, which are crucial for workplaces. Your child’s journey through IT in Years 7 and 8 has been planned with this in mind; we teach them digital awareness and safety, and how to use spreadsheet, database, presentation and desk-top publishing software.
If learners’ interests are primarily around the development of computer networks or control systems and/or the creative and innovative design and creation of software programme solutions, then they should consider completing the GCSE in Computer Science. This will help them develop their computational analysis skills to allow them to solve problems and design systems and solutions. The Computer Science GCSE focuses on being able to problem solve, work through a sequence and write computer programs to make something happen. Students also learn about networks and how a computer works.
Students will follow the OCR Cambridge Nationals Diploma in Information Technologies. This aims to improve their knowledge of the digital environment and their confidence with IT. They learn about data management issues and develop practical skills by planning and creating an integrated technological solution to communicate information.
The collection and communication of data and storing of data/information happens all around us. Technology underpins how it’s collected and communicated nearly all of the time. It can be seen in all walks of life, from a wearable fitness tracker recording how many steps you have taken, your mobile phone provider recording your usage to create your bill or an online retailer being able to target you with specific promotions based on your purchase history. Knowing how and why data is gathered and being able to turn raw data into something meaningful is essential as the learner moves through education and into employment. To be able to do this the learner will need to have the confidence to use a range of information technology that is currently available, as well as being adaptable and resilient enough to deal with the rapid advances.
This qualification will teach the learner what different technologies could be used, why they should use them and how to make best use of them, to gather, store, manipulate and present data; this is known as data management.
They will learn about tools and techniques for use in different digital hardware and software technologies, and how these can be integrated to create digital solutions to manage and communicate data and information. They will also be taught what data and information are, and the legal, ethical and moral considerations when using technology to gather, store and present data and information, and how to mitigate the risks of cyber-attacks. Through this qualification they will be able to select and use the most appropriate technology safely and effectively, to complete a data management task, such as a cable TV provider monitoring customers’ viewing to make recommendations for additional packages in the customer’s subscription.
They will also learn to follow a project life cycle of initiation, planning, execution and evaluation to complete a data management task and use their skills, knowledge and understanding of technology to complete each of the phases of the project life cycle.
The skills, knowledge and understanding they will develop through this qualification are very relevant to both work and further study. They will support them in a range of subject areas such as A Levels in Business or Geography, or Cambridge Technicals in IT. They can also support their progression into employment through Apprenticeships in areas such as Digital Marketer or Business Administrator.
There are 2 Units of Assessment; an External written paper R012, and an Internal Assessment task, R013. Both are equally weighted.
The R012 exam lasts 1 ½ hours, and is sat in January of year 11. Questions will test knowledge and understanding and the ability to apply this understanding and draw on the experience gained from developing the skills. Questions cover a range of topics from IT legislation, to cyber-security, to selecting the most appropriate software for a task, to knowledge of the Project Life Cycle, to collecting, storing and using data.
The R013 OCR-set assignment, lasting 20 hours, will test skills. Work will be judged against marking criteria that will measure how effectively skills, knowledge and understanding are used to complete a project. Pupils will have to use the Project life Cycle to plan out their IT system, and then implement it, test it and finally evaluate its success. This assessment will take place during IT lessons in March and April of Year 11.
An amazing way to develop critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills, which can be transferred to further learning and to everyday life.
Students who want to go on to the higher study and employment in the field of Computer Science will find it provides a superb stepping stone. Computer Science is also now part of the English Baccalaureate and is a highly respected qualification to gain. The feedback received from post-16 providers is that Priestlands pupils enter their Computer Science qualifications extremely well prepared to face the challenges the next level poses.
The courses, starting from Year 9, provide an exciting opportunity for students to further their interest in computers. Students will need to be self-motivated and be prepared to undertake a challenging subject that requires a lot of resilience. The courses offer students the chance to excel in a field of study that continues to increase in importance in everyday life. They will become confident programmers through hours of practical programming in the classroom, where Python will be the predominate language used.
Students will be joining a successful and ever growing subject with a passionate staff team that work tirelessly to ensure pupils achieve the best possible outcomes at GCSE level.
This course gives students a real, in-depth understanding of how computer technology works. It offers an insight into what goes on ‘behind the scenes’, including computer programming, which many students find absorbing. It will prepare pupils for the GCSE specification by looking at carefully selected topics from the OCR GCSE specification. An overview of what pupils will study can be seen below:
- Python Programming
- Binary Numbers
- Character Sets
- Computational Logic
- Sorting Algorithms
- Systems Architecture
- HTML web development
Check our blog sites for lesson resources: Priestlands Computing (KS3)
The qualification will build on the knowledge, understanding and skills established through the Computer Science at Key Stage 3 and Year 9. The content has been designed not only to allow for a solid basis of understanding but to engage learners and get them thinking about real world application. Pupils will benefit from a simple and intuitive assessment model, consisting of two papers, one focusing on computer systems and one with a focus on programming, computational thinking, and algorithms. Both papers have identical weighting and mark allocations.
An overview of what pupils will study can be seen below:
- Systems Architecture
- Wired and wireless networks
- Network topologies, protocols and layers
- System security
- System software
- Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns
- Programming Techniques
- Producing robust programs
- Computational Logic
- Translators and facilities of languages
- Data representation
Check our blog sites for lesson resources: Priestlands CS (KS4)