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Computer Science

Computers are now embedded within most aspects of modern life, and, for most, technology has become essential. With the rise of computing, the need for ‘Computational thinking’ and digital literacy skills have become a must for all pupils if they are to be ready for the workplace and able to participate effectively in the digital world.

At Castle Donington College our curriculum aims to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary to thrive in the digital age. It aims to develop their computational thinking abilities, problem-solving skills, and creativity while fostering an understanding of the underlying principles of computer science. We have curated our computer science curriculum with the intention that lessons are knowledge and vocabulary rich, create the capacity and freedom for students to develop their digital literacy, whilst being sequence and mapped in a coherent format so that pupils can make meaningful connections thus enabling them to use technology effectively and responsibly. It encourages them to explore and experiment with a range of digital tools, software, and programming languages.

The Computing curriculum has been developed to equip our young people with the skills, knowledge and understanding they will need for the rest of their lives. Through the programme of study, they will learn how computers and computer systems work, design and build programs, develop their understanding of issues surround technological developments, and use various software packages to create a range of digital content.

Computing as a subject is made of three distinct strands. Each strand is essential in preparing students to thrive in an increasingly digital world and is covered throughout the KS3 Computing Curriculum. The strands are:

Computer Science 

Students learn the foundational principles of computer science, such as algorithms, data structures, and computational thinking. They develop their programming skills and gain an understanding of how software and hardware work together.

Information Technology

This piece of the curriculum focuses on using technology to create, manipulate, and share digital content. How computers and telecommunications equipment work, and how they may be applied to the storage, retrieval, transmission, and manipulation of data. Students learn about networks, data representation, and cybersecurity. They also explore topics like computer systems, databases, and the impact of technology on society.

Digital Literacy

They learn about online safety, responsible use of technology, and ethical considerations related to digital citizenship. The creation of digital artefacts will be integral to much of the learning of computing. Digital artefacts can take many forms including, digital images, computer programs, spreadsheets, 3D animations and many others. Students develop the skills to navigate and evaluate information in the digital world.

Computer science incorporates techniques and methods for solving. It includes a distinct way of thinking and working that sets it apart from other disciplines. To this end the curriculum aims to develop students' understanding of a variety of computational thinking principles, such as decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction, and algorithmic design. Here students learn to break down problems into smaller parts and develop algorithms to solve them.

There is an emphasis on hands-on, practical learning experiences, encouraging students to apply their knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems. This encourages creativity and innovation. The practical programming elements of the curriculum, which aims to develop students programming abilities starting with block-based programming, through to writing more sophisticated programs in textual languages like python. The role of programming in computer science is like that of practical work in other sciences – it provides motivation and a context within which ideas are brought to life.

The curriculum emphasizes hands-on, practical learning experiences, encouraging students to apply their knowledge and skills to solve real-world problems. It also encourages creativity and innovation, fostering an entrepreneurial mindset.

Computer Science is delivered to all pupils at KS3. The subject is taught in discreet lessons by a specialist teacher where students are taught in mixed ability tutor groups. Pupils with SEN access the same lessons as their peers with additional, differentiated activities developed to meet their needs. Pupils access a specialist computer room and IT packages to support the curriculum. The KS3 curriculum prepares pupils well for the next phase of their education.

Computer Science is offered at KS4 as an option subject. At GCSE, students follow the OCR J277 Computer Science course which has a strong focus on computational thinking, programming, computer systems, networking, and the impacts of technology on the environment and society.

We have endeavoured to create a diverse curriculum by committing to diversity in teaching, and the language, texts, and media we use, so all pupils feel positively represented. Creating an accessible curriculum addresses the needs of all pupils.

Overall, we aim to prepare students for the demands of an increasingly digital society, equipping them with the skills needed for further education and employment, and active participation in the digital economy.

Reviewed September 2023