Computing at Sir Thomas Rich's

"The question of whether a computer can think is no more interesting than the question of whether a submarine can swim."
Edsger W. Dijkstra

Computer Science is the study of computers and computational systems, requiring strong problem-solving skills, the ability to break a task into basic components, and the motivation to study and work individually. At Rich's our Computing curriculum is ambitious annd challenging, and aims to include key elements of theory from the Key Stage above, so that students who do understand gain a boost in confidence, and those who take more time to understand have some familiarity when they meet these concepts 'for real' in their lessons. Students are encouraged to code in a variety of languages, from the visual environments of Scratch and SNAP to the text-based languages Python and C#, both of which are commercially relevant programming languages. The computer rooms are available for quiet work outside of lessons to support students who wish to continue classwork or to undertake further independent study. Coding is supported by computer rooms being available to students for booking before school and at lunchtimes for specific key stages, with Computing staff on call if required.

Head of Department:

Key Stage 3 - Years 7, 8 & 9

Teaching Arrangements: Years 7 and 8: 2 periods in a fortnight.
Year 9: 1 period in a fortnight.
Homework Guidance: The computer rooms are available for work outside of lesson times; all students have access should they require it to complete class work or homework.
Assessment Arrangements: Year 7: Baseline test shortly after entry to assess previous knowledge, followed by a similar test at the end of the year. These tests cover theory and programming.
Year 8: Students sit a formal Computer Science theory paper during exam week.
Year 9: Students sit a formal Computer Science theory paper during exam week.
Topics Covered:
Year 7
  • Introduction and basic skills
  • Software and hardware
  • Visual programming with Scratch
  • Introduction to databases
  • Web pages and HTML
  • Further coding with Scratch
Year 8
  • Cyber security and number systems
  • Coding with Snap
  • Logic and networks
  • Coding with Small Basic
  • Images and sounds
  • Introduction to coding with Python
Year 9
  • Logic and networks
  • Coding with Python
  • Images and sounds
  • Social, ethical and environmental issues

These days almost all our students come to us with a solid background in basic IT skills, and many with a level of competence that is much higher. They use IT in their everyday lives, expect to use it within school. We aim to encourage this whilst teaching the responsibility and security necessary for today’s online world. The Computing elements of the course set out to develop the skills that our students will need to allow them to code programs and understand how programs work, as well as laying suitable foundations for the optional GCSE course. The purpose of Year 7 is to introduce the students to the basic skills and concepts they will need to develop in Computing. The course is structured so that students experience a range of topics and challenges, with the key philosophy being to make the curriculum accessible and fun, for example using Scratch to introduce coding concepts via a sequence of tasks of increasing complexity (pong, breakout, space invaders). Year 8 students are introduced to some (simplified) GCSE theory and to extend their programming skills, in part to ensure that they will have suitable experience when they come to consider their GCSE options in Year 9. Year 9 students are introduced to further (simplified) GCSE theory and extend their programming skills in Python. A mixture of theory and programming in the first term helps pupils to make an informed decision about GCSE options.

Teaching Arrangements: 5 periods a fortnight.
Homework Guidance: Students are advised to practice coding as much as possible and are encouraged to undertake additional tasks to extend their experience.
Assessment Arrangements: The course is assessed through two written examination papers (50% each).
Exam Specification: AQA GCSE Computer Science (8525) Topics Covered:
Year 10
  • Programming using Visual Studio
  • Aspects of software development
  • Fundamentals of algorithms
  • Programming
  • Fundamentals of data representation
  • Computer systems
Year 11
  • Relational databases and SQL
  • Fundamentals of computer networks
  • Fundamentals of cyber security

Year 10 sees the start of the GCSE course. Pupils are introduced to Visual Studio as a programming IDE and to C# as a programming language. The curriculum covers just over half the GCSE theory content, and blends this with programming tasks designed to introduce key coding concepts in both Windows Console and Windows Forms. Where practical, coding tasks are linked to specification content. Year 11 sees the continuation of the GCSE course, with students covering the remaining GCSE theory and developing their programming skills and independence through increasingly complex coding tasks.

Entry Requirements: A GCSE Level 7 in Mathematics or 7 in Computer Science is required to study this course.
Teaching Arrangements: Year 12: 9 periods in a fortnight.
Year 13: 10 periods in a fortnight.
Homework Guidance: Homework is set as necessary and students are expected to spend time working on their project. Students are expected to practice coding throughout the course and should aim to work in more than one language, for example: Python and C#.
Assessment Arrangements: Examinations are sat at the end of Year 13. Assessment takes the form of two examination papers of 2.5 hours duration (40% of the marks each) and an extended practical programming project (20% of the marks).

Paper 1 includes practical coding and questions related to a given 'skeleton' program. Paper 2 is a written paper with short and long answer questions. The programming project requires students to analyse a problem, design a solution, and then code and test it. The project takes place throughout the course and students are expected to complete some of this work outside of lessons.
Exam Specification: AQA A Level Computer Science (7517) Topics Covered:
  • Programming
  • Data structures
  • Algorithms
  • Theory of computation
  • Data representation
  • Computer systems
  • Computer organisation and architecture
  • Consequences of uses of computing
  • Communications and networks
  • Databases
  • Big data
  • Functional programming
  • Systematic approach to problem solving
  • Computing practical project

The Year 12 curriculum covers the AS Level theory content (AQA 7516) and some of the A Level content: specifically elements from A Level that may prove useful during the NEA task such as Object Oriented Programming and SQL. Year 12 also seeks to introduce new students to C# and Visual Studio, while allowing continuing students to review their coding skills. Students who are confident in C# are encouraged to learn to code in Python. The Year 13 curriculum covers the remainder of the A Level theory content (AQA 7517) and allows for the completion of the NEA project (worth 20% of the final grade).

University courses this subject may be required for or lead onto:
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Computer Science
  • Microelectronics
  • Web Development
  • Engineering (Modelling)
  • Sciences (Modelling)
Careers that Computing may lead onto:
  • Application Analyst
  • Business Analyst
  • Data Analyst
  • Database Administrator
  • Games Developer
  • Hardware Engineer
  • IT Consultant
  • Network Architect
  • Security Analyst
  • Security Architect
  • SEO Specialist
  • Software Developer
  • Systems Analyst
  • Systems Developer
  • Systems Manager
  • UX Analyst
  • Web Designer
  • Web Developer

In addition to traditional 'Computer Science' jobs, a good grounding in computing skills and techniques is beneficial for modern jobs involving research and modelling, which tend to involve logical thinking, and increasingly some level of programming.

Associated Clubs / Societies / Trips:
  • Coding Club