The Computing Department teaches Key Stage 2 ICT in Year 6 to all, Key Stage 3 ICT in Years 7 to 9 to all, and IGCSE ICT in Years 10 and 11 to those who opt for the subject. Computer Science is offered in the Sixth Form, both at A Level and in the IB. In 2012-3, we are starting pilot groups of Computing Science in Year 8. Small groups are taught programming and electronics, and the Department provides the Technology component of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). The STEM work consists of: programming and using microcontrollers, learning to program in Visual Basic within Excel spreadsheets, and Electronics.
The Department aims to provide basic skills and education in Computing (the generic term covering both ICT and Computer Science), to meet the specialised needs of those who need more, and to inspire students with the vast possibilities that Computing explores.
In Year 6, students follow the National Curriculum descriptors for ICT, and in Years 7-9, ICT Foundation skills. In Years 10-11, the Department offers Cambridge International’s IGCSE Information and Communication Technology, and AQA’s syllabus for A Level Computing in Years 12-13.
The Department’s core methodology is based on ‘teaching by doing’. Students are shown what can be done, are given specific instructions to follow, and are then asked to do similar tasks. Work is submitted for assessment and only accepted once it has reached the desired standard. Assessment of completed work is therefore on both the ability to complete the task, and the ability to follow technical instructions accurately and efficiently.
Schemes of work
Schemes of work are written to reflect ICT skills as defined in the National Curriculum: discovering, analysing, communicating and evaluating information. Students select and synthesise information from a variety of sources; develop ideas using ICT tools to refine quality and accuracy; exchange and share information through electronic media; and review, modify and evaluate work, reflecting critically on its quality as it progresses.
In order for these to be effective, software skills (the use of word processors, databases, spreadsheets, graphics packages and other types of software) are also taught.
Above Year 9, the Schemes of Work in any Year are determined by the exam specifications. At GCSE, there is an emphasis on the practical work, but at A Level, practical work accounts for about 50% of the effort.
We are frequent competitors in the British Informatics Olympiad, and Whitgift out-performed 500 other schools to win the Web Design Challenge, a competition run by the Design Centre in London, and supported by Microsoft.
The Department recently visited the University of Manchester for a Linux taster day. This is particularly relevant in the light of projected Raspberry Pi development. This is likely to become a regular trip.