The future of Computer Science
Unfortunately, our Computer Science specialist left us at the end of last term, December 2020, to take up a new post in industry and, in spite of our best endeavours, we have so far been unable to appoint a new teacher to replace her in January 2021.
We are currently advertising for a Teacher of Computer Science and we will continue to work with agencies in the hope that we will be able to make an appointment for April, after Easter.
GCSE Computer Science
Headteacher Ms Henson and Miss Hope, Head of our Ethics and Computing Faculty, are determined to support our GCSE candidates to ensure they are all able to continue to make progress and are prepared for their assessments. Mrs Hoole-Jackson kindly left a record of what has been taught and what still needs to be taught. This has been used to inform our planning for this term.
Pupils in our GCSE Computer Science groups have been provided with a detailed overview of their lessons this term and they are all expected to engage in blended learning. They are following a programme of live lessons in MS Teams and asynchronous learning in Show My Homework.
Our Computer Science lessons in MS Teams currently take the form of ‘masterclasses’. These are being led by professionals working in the computer industry, who responded to our call for assistance in our weekly parents' newsletter and have very kindly offered to help us out. They have been advised of the required knowledge, skills and understanding for GCSE Computer Science and they have had access to the GCSE specification and OCR resources. Ms Henson is facilitating each session in MS Teams and is present throughout.
Our guest presenters are leading masterclasses on cyber security, data storage, computational thinking, algorithms and networks and network topologies. All key components of the GCSE course.
‘I am extremely grateful to our guest presenters for giving up their time to support and inspire our pupils. Their sessions have been carefully planned and I am impressed how well they have been tailored to the GCSE specifications. It is incredibly beneficial for our pupils to hear from professionals in the industry and to learn from real world examples. Their questions, both curious and pertinent, have reflected the level of their interest and engagement.’ Ms Henson, Headteacher.
During their lessons in Show My Homework, pupils are working independently through the assigned tasks. These focus on developing their resilience, resourcefulness and problem solving skills - all key attributes of an effective computer programmer! These sessions are structured around the presentations and activities prepared by the examination board OCR. This ensures all pupils cover the core content and practise the required skills for their examination in this subject.
However, to deepen their knowledge, we have also signposted additional resources, including a range of short and relevant video lessons presented by experienced and practising teachers. These vary in length from 10-30 minutes and include:
- Video lessons prepared by Craig’n’Dave. These follow the OCR GCSE specification precisely and we will be asking pupils to complete their workbooks for each topic. In doing so pupils can draw on the OCR lesson material and other assigned tasks before submitting them for checking.
- Video lessons led by teachers from Oak National Academy. These are also relevant and engaging. While not specific to the OCR Specification, they cover most of the core topics and are supported with interactive resources, including quizzes.
During their GCSE Computer Science lessons on Show My Homework, two of our graduate intern intervention tutors, Mr Leach and Mr Howitt, who both have experience of programming, are available to respond to questions via email. Some pupils in Year 11 found this especially useful in the first two weeks of the term as they finished their programming projects and several have continued to make good use of the specialist support.
‘I have been very impressed by our pupils’ attendance in MS Teams so far this term and I trust they will continue to make every effort to engage constructively in our Computer Science programme. Having spoken with the groups and received evidence of their work, I know many of the pupils are committed to doing well in this subject and aspire to pursue careers in this field.’ Ms Henson, Headteacher.
Pupils in Year 11 had their first two masterclasses on Friday 15 and Thursday 21 January with Dr Paul Evans, Cyber Security Consultant. At the end of his first session Paul recommended CyberFirst to the group. We are sure the CyberFirst Futures and Advanced courses will be of interest to our GCSE candidates. CyberFirst also signpost the bursaries and apprenticeships available to those wishing to pursue a career in computer science.
Dr Paul Evans: 'I've been really impressed with not just the knowledge the pupils already have, but also with their willingness to engage in sessions and ask really interesting questions, some of which I've not been asked before. I've thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with them.'
Miss Hope, Head of Ethics and Computing: ‘Never has Computing been more important in developing the pupils’ skills whilst ensuring their wellbeing whilst online. I have been most grateful to Ms Henson for stepping up and facilitating the GCSE Computer Science curriculum to our KS4 pupils, alongside the support of our interns Mr Leach and Mr Howitt. Furthermore, I would like to add my thanks to the parents who have volunteered to lead masterclasses to support our young people in their studies. We are working hard to fulfil the vacant Computer Science post. In the meantime, I would like to thank the pupils for their resilience and engagement in Ethics and Computing.‘
Tom, Year 11: ‘I would love to thank Dr Evans and Mr Leach for their valued help in the masterclasses in Teams for my Computer Science class which has been very informative and fun. I look forward to further lessons with them and other professionals working in the field of Computer Science.’
Key Stage 3 ICT
Pupils in Key Stage 3 are introduced to computer science and programming. During this period of lockdown, pupils in Year 7-9 are being taught online by ICT Teacher Mr Young, predominantly through Show My Homework. To support their learning he has made a series of videos which he has shared with each group, as well as supporting resources.
Mr Young shares with us that pupils in Key Stage 3 have adapted to this new remote way of learning brilliantly. Year 7s have been looking into spreadsheets and learning new, transferable skills that will set them up for the world of work in years to come. So far we have looked at formulas and functions as well as turning data into graphs and charts for analysis. Year 8 have been introduced to animation, producing their own creative pieces and bringing inanimate objects to life! At the moment, we have looked at what animation is, the different purposes of animation as well as all the different types there are. There is a form of animation for everyone! Our Year 9 pupils have had the tricky task of learning cyber-security remotely, and have investigated different types of cyber criminals as well as using their problem-solving skills and resilience to decrypt some encrypted cipher code!
'It has been fantastic to see all of the hard work our pupils have put in during this difficult time. I'm looking forward to seeing each of you back in school soon!' Mr Young, ICT Teacher
This video about CyberCentralUK gives a great overview of the types of careers or directions that pupils might choose: