Within the Computing department we pride ourselves in giving students a variety of KS4 qualification choices to best meet their interests and needs. To prepare students for the different computing pathways available to them we ensure that the KS3 curriculum meets not only the national curriculum requirements but gives students the key skills they will need for success at KS4.
We have three qualifications at KS4 that lead directly on from KS3 Computing; BTEC Creative Media, BTEC Digital Information Technology and GCSE Computer Science. Careful identification of key topics from each course has been identified and these are covered at KS3. Further to this you will see that where a key topic forms a large part of assessment at KS4 or the skill is needed across more than one of the KS4 subjects, then more time and practice has been given to that key skill at KS3.
In year 7 students are introduced to one of the most important topics; staying safe whilst using digital equipment. They will be taught digital threats, how to communicate appropriately online and where to seek help should they need it.
After this, students will undertake the first of three similar units across the two years at KS3; Creating digital media products. This unit forms the main preparation for the BTEC Media and BTEC Digital Information technology courses. Students will practice planning, creating digital products and evaluating skills.
Next students will undertake the entry programming unit called control and monitoring that will teach students the basics of how computers follow instructions. This will give students an understanding of why computers use programming languages such as Python to function. Before they attempt a text based programming unit near the end of year 8, students will be given the opportunity to program sequences of instructions using visual programming software such as Scratch or Microbits before finishing this strand of learning with a text based programming unit using Python ready for GCSE Computer Science.
During the middle of year 8 students learn Computer Science theory such as how computers work using binary, how computers communicate with each other across networks and threats to data and how to prevent them. These three units will be revisited again in more detail in GCSE Computer Science and some of them in BTEC Digital Information Technology.
Finally, at the end of year 8 students will be taught how to collect, present and interpret data using spreadsheet software. Not only a life long skill needed by many businesses, but this unit prepares students for undertaking an assessment on the same topic if they opt for BTEC Digital Information Technology.
Assessment in Computing is undertaken in a variety of different ways depending on whether the student is undertaking a knowledge or skill based unit. Knowledge based units such as communication and networks, students sit knowledge based tests. Whereas, skills based units such as creating digital media products, student’s outcomes from the practical lessons are assessed. This assessment is undertaken in a variety of ways with some pieces of work self or peer assessed. Specific pieces of work have been identified across all units as needing to be teacher assessed and this will be undertaken in a timely manner so students have the opportunity to act on the feedback given and amend and improve their practical work.
Skills based units at KS3 are revisited a few times over the two years. Students have the opportunity to use the feedback they were given last time to build upon and improve the next time. This allows students an opportunity to hone their practical skills before they undertake the real coursework units at KS4.
All of the theory units are revisited again at KS4. Careful tracking using learning maps at KS3 allow students to identify gaps in their learning of this theory and then they fill those gaps with independent study using online platforms such as Seneca learning.
During theoretical units, specific topics are teacher assessed and the outcome of these assessments leads directly into reshaping for the remaining lessons of that unit. Teacher and students may decide to revisit key learning if needed or advance onto the next stage of that unit. Ultimately meaning that KS3 teachers don’t simply plough on through the unit without ensuring that student’s individual needs are being met.