It is our mission to prepare students for jobs that do not exist, using software which has not yet been created, to solve problems that have not yet become a problem. In Computer Science we are strongly committed to empowering our learners to work independently, and not be afraid to try out new things. Our aims are to introduce theoretical perspectives in computing which inspire, and encourage learners to find out more, and to encourage our learners to think logically, and write / debug code.
All learners are entered for the Edexcel qualification in Computing from September 2015. This course has three different elements. First, a 1.5 hour examination which is taken in year 11, and constitutes 40% of the overall marks. The learners carry out a controlled assessment investigation task, which has a programming element, and a theoretical / technical writing element. This makes up 30% of the overall mark. There is also a programming element which is 30%. The students design, create, and test a program which solves a given problem.
A popular option in our Department is Business Studies. This is a well respected OCR course which aims to give learners insight into the world of business and entrepreneurship. Learners have the opportunity to join the Young Enterprise Scheme, which has been very successful in past years.
SMSC IN ICT
SPIRITUAL DEVELOPMENT IN ICT
The sense of self: self-image, self-worth, and self-belief is something covered extensively when we look at the effects of cyber bullying and the inappropriate use of social networking sites. This is often done with true case studies. We explore how, and why we develop the sense of self through the feedback (either intentional or unintentional) of others. We ask learners how robots differ from us? We explore how they are much more effective, and certainly faster than us at carrying out precise tasks, or working in dangerous / inhospitable environments. They are replacing humans in the workplace all the time, working cheaply, not demanding holidays, sick pay, or even heat and light. Are robots better than us? What makes us human? We explore the uniqueness of the human soul, and how it will never be replicated, through a study of the science of AI.
We also explore the detrimental aspect of ICT, with the effects of overuse, and over dependence, and how people can, and do escape into fantasy worlds. Learners have plenty of opportunity to express themselves creatively in ICT, particularly when creating multimedia files, which are covered in all year groups. Uniqueness of work is always encouraged and celebrated.
MORAL DEVELOPMENT IN ICT
Is putting up a Facebook status about someone just a ‘bit of fun’? Or is it morally wrong? Students are encouraged to think about the effect they may have on other people with their actions online. At several points during the year we cover e-safety. Through film, drama, and documentaries, we explore impersonation, cyber bullying, trolling, and sexting. The young people learn to appreciate that once they put something online, it exists forever, and can never be reversed. Do computer games make people violent? The curriculum has a certain flexibility to enable us to respond to current events. For example, computer gaming has been put forward as a possible causal factor in the death of a Leeds teacher. This is a question asked of our learners, and we explore the arguments for and against gaming, teasing out whether violent games are morally destructive to our society and selves, or whether playing violent games are as likely to make someone violent as playing Pro Golf is likely to make them a pro golfer.
Students are often surprised to learn that not everything they find on the Internet belongs to them! After discussion of illegal downloads, and sharing of software and music, we cover copyright, and the effect that having intellectual property stolen has upon the music and gaming industry, and individuals. On a related note, we cover the legality, and morality of plagiarism in all year groups, and only allow the use of images which are proven to be ‘free to use, or share’.
SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT IN ICT
We are preparing learners for the rest of their digital, technological lives, to this end, we teach skills using the Microsoft Office Suite, and endeavour to prepare learners to be confident using any software that they are presented with via independent learning. We also give the young people the opportunity to learn touch typing to enhance their employability, and add another life skill.
“I love junk mail!” said nobody, ever. We prepare learners to live in a digital world knowing some of the laws constraining theirs, and other’s actions. We cover the Data Protection Act, and people’s rights as citizens to ensure companies holding their data are staying within the law. They are encouraged to start thinking about how they are added to databases, and how they can avoid it, and save themselves junk mail in the future.
The Computer Misuse Act is covered in key stage 4, and the young people learn what may happen if they knowingly misuse a computer. On a related note, we cover how to practice safe surfing and keep themselves and the equipment free from harm in terms of phishing, advance fee fraud, money transfer fraud, hackers, and viruses. Students are also taught how to shop safely, looking for httpS before entering card details.
Learners are encouraged to look closely at their digital footprint, and the amount of information they may unwittingly give away. We use CEOP videos and a range of other resources to educate our young people in the dangers of putting their information and images online. Privacy settings on social networking sites are also made explicit.
CULTURAL DEVELOPMENT IN ICT
In key stage 4, the students explore the ‘digital divide’ and look at groups of people who have a lack of access to technology, such as those in LDCs, the elderly, those living in countries or cultures where access to technology is limited within the female gender. Student’s explore the ‘Great Firewall of China’ and learn that other cultures have different ideas as to what their people should be viewing / interacting with. They discover, and question why the Chinese governments may allow gambling sites, but block Western news, and social networking sites. Debates often arise as to the rights and wrongs of cultural censorship.
The young people learn about the Amish. They mostly begin their learning journey feeling sorry for these people, and question how they survive without an iPhone, iPad, games console, and camera. Learners are fascinated to discover that the vast majority of Amish live a full, active, and happy life without any electricity, or modern appliances whatsoever! Acknowledgment of this creates quite thoughtful young people!
Historically women have taken a back seat in computer science, and the take up of programming by women in higher education has been low. We challenge the gender bias, and explore how socialisation, and the absence of female role models may have an impact. We delve into how women have been involved in computing right from the start. We look at the role of Ada Lovelace, who was considered to be the first ever programmer, responsible for the building of Charles Babbage’s machine. Learners discover that the Enigma code, which aided the end of WW2, was cracked by a team which included women.