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Computer Science

 

Learning Journey & Sequencing Rationale

A high-quality computing education equips learners to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world. Computing has deep links with mathematics, science and design and technology, and provides insights into both natural and artificial systems. The core of computing is computer science, in which learners are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work and how to put this knowledge to use through programming. Building on this knowledge and understanding, learners are equipped to use information technology to create programs, systems and a range of content. Computing also ensures that learners become digitally literate – able to use, and express themselves and develop their ideas through, information and communication technology – at a level suitable for the future workplace and as active participants in a digital world.

 
 
 
 

unit overview - autumn term 1

Subject: Comp 1.5 Systems software

Skills

Describing the purpose and function of systems software

Explain the role of an operating system within a computer system

Describe the various uses of utility and application software

Knowledge

Understand the purpose and functionality of systems software

Understand operating systems: user interface, memory management/multitasking, peripheral management and drivers, user management, file management

Understand utility system software: encryption software, defragmentation, data compression, the role and methods of backup (full & incremental)

Rationale

Software on a computer system is classified into three broad categories: operating system, utility and applications software. Learning this develops the sense that computer systems are an impressive orchestration of programs that come together to serve our wants and needs.

This unit provides a clarified sense of purpose for the programs that we want to write. Do our programs create an interface which points to the whole system? Do they perform specialised tasks like compression or encryption?  Do they contribute to our better productivity, our entertainment, allow us to while away the hours having fun on the computer?  These are, respectively, operating system, utility and application software, and this unit provides a better vocabulary for understanding where any software fits into the computing picture.

Students must also be able to successfully respond to GCSE level test questions on the above.

unit overview - autumn term 2 

Subject: Comp 2.4 Computational logic

Skills

Be able to describe the purpose of the base two number system in a computer system

Be able to draw simple and complex logic circuits using AND, OR and NOT

Be able to trace inputs to simple and complex logic circuits using truth tables

Be able to write computer programs that utilise common computational mathematical operators

Knowledge

Know why data is represented in computers in binary form

Understand simple logic diagrams using the operations AND, OR and NOT

Understand truth tables

Understand how to combine Boolean operators using AND, OR and NOT to two levels

Applying logical operators in appropriate truth tables to solve problems

Applying computing-related mathematics: +, -, /, *, ^, MOD, DIV

Rationale

Students must be able to consider abstract logic using a framework that can be communicated to colleagues.  By applying Boolean logic, it is possible to express whether something seemingly complex is, in the end, either True or False.  This unit teaches a framework for performing logical evaluations on multiple inputs, and arriving at True/False judgements.

These same circuits are the building block of computing, while AND, OR and NOT are to be found universally in programs, circuit boards and digital devices.  For example, automatic security lights rely on logic gates to know when to switch on and off; sensors used with logic gates can trigger actions like windows that shut automatically when it rains; on/off transistors are combined into logic circuits in order to solve real world problems.

Students must also be able to successfully respond to GCSE level test questions on the above.

unit overview - spring term 1 

Subject: Comp 1.6 Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns

Skills

Be able to investigate and discuss concerns regarding the development, use and impact of computing technology such as:

  • Ethical
  • Legal
  • Cultural
  • Environmental

Be able to discuss issues of privacy and data collection

Be able to describe the legislation relevant to Computing

Knowledge

Understand the factors to consider when investigating and discussing Computer Science technologies: ethical issues, legal issues, cultural issues, environmental issues, privacy issues

Understand how key stakeholders are affected by technologies

Understand the environmental impact of Computer Science

Understand the cultural implications of Computer Science

Understand the features of open source vs proprietary software

Know the legislation relevant to Computer Science:

  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Computer Misuse Act 1990
  • Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988
  • Creative Commons Licensing
  • Freedom of Information Act 2000

Rationale

The contribution made by computer science to humanity is beyond measure, and computers are now so ubiquitous that they support most aspects of our lives. It is common today for computers to be embedded in robot limbs, in software for language learning, in cars to sense the proximity of other cars, on our phones to send each other silly images, on our televisions to stream television on demand, on speakers that understand voice-instructions to play music, in the background on our PCs to protect us from cyber-attacks, and even on every hotel door handles, to identify the guests as they leave and enter the rooms.  In the next twenty years, advances in artificial intelligence will bring about ever greater leaps and bounds forward to augment our lives in ever more clever ways that today, we cannot even imagine.

This unit examines the impact of these advances, and asks if more harm is being done than good. Does the development, use and disposal of these hardware devices create too large a carbon footprint? Do the computers bring about losses of privacy, or worse – do they put tools to steal money, property and even identity from ordinary people and businesses? Does the widespread use of computers actually exacerbate gaps between the haves and the have nots?

Understanding these issues will make for an ethically aware generation of future computer scientists that understands the issues and laws surrounding them, and is able to make environmentally conscious decisions, mindful of the less desirable impacts of the technology that they are building.

Students must also be able to successfully respond to GCSE level test questions on the above.

unit overview - spring term 2 

Subject: Comp 2.5 Translators and facilities of languages

Skills

Be able to describe the difference between low and high level languages

Explain the advantages of using high level languages

Explain how program instructions are encoded in low level languages

Explain why high level languages needs to be translated

Explain the characteristics and use of an assembler, a compiler and an interpreter

Be able to understand – and even code – simple programs in assembly language.

Knowledge

Know the characteristics and purpose of different levels of programming language, including low level languages

Understand the purpose of translators

Understand the characteristics of an assembler, a compiler and an interpreter

Know the common tools and facilities available in an integrated development environment (IDE): editors, error diagnostics, run-time environment, translators

Rationale

Students must be able to consider milestones in the evolution of programming languages, seeing how each iteration along the way finds a better way for a human being to give an instruction to a computer.

In this unit, students are encouraged to see how programming languages have evolved over the last half-century as developers refine how we tell the computer to perform instructions in sequence, in branches, and iteratively.  At the same time, students should also see how no matter what the programming language, it still must be translated into machine-readable strings of 1s and 0s – the only language that computers understand.

Students must also be able to successfully respond to GCSE level test questions on the above.

knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.