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IT & Computing

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At St. Mary’s, we believe that the future workforce will need technical expertise in IT and Computing, alongside skills which automation cannot replace – flexibility, empathy, creative and enterprise. In the Digital Revolution, knowledge is as necessary as ever, but it is not enough. It has to be connected with the real world through practical applications.

In Computing, we aspire to prepare our students to meet these challenges by developing successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens.

Successful learners

Pupils will be engaged and challenged by their IT & Computing lessons.

We will build their ability to think creatively and independently, linking and applying their IT & Computing skills in new and different situations.

Pupils will have the opportunity to work towards and obtain a variety of qualifications applicable to their requirements.

Confident individuals

Pupils will develop skills and techniques in order that they can confidently tackle IT & Computing problems and challenges.

We will encourage pupils to extend their skills beyond the classroom.

All students will be taught to become more independent learners and challenge them above and beyond the curriculum.

Effective contributors

Pupils will discuss and communicate their learning in computing.

They will work in partnerships and in teams creating, developing and solving problems and evaluating technological issues.

Responsible citizens

Pupils will work together, solving problems and making informed choices and decisions.

Key Stage 3

In Key Stage 3 pupils follow a programme of study which introduces them to key computing skills and offers full coverage of the national curriculum.

Year 7

·   Introduction to computing      

·  Using computers safely (including Online safety)

·  Digital literacy: Word processing skills

·  Digital literacy: PowerPoint skills 

·   Binary

Year 8

·   Introduction to programming and computational thinking

·   Digital literacy: Word and PowerPoint skills  (consolidation)

·  Spreadsheet modelling

·  Graphics

Year 9

·     Understanding computers/networks

·  Project management and development

·  Data handling

·  Computational logical thinking

Key Stage 4

The BTEC Tech Award in Digital Information Technology

This course enables pupils to acquire and develop knowledge and technical skills related to data management, data interpretation, data presentation and data protection as part of their Key Stage 4 learning.

Students will develop key skills that prove their ability in digital information technology such as: project planning; designing and creating user interfaces; and presenting and interpreting data. Students will also come to understand the processes that underpin effective ways of working, such as project planning, the iterative design process, cyber security, virtual teams, and legal and ethical codes of conduct.

The qualification recognises the value of knowledge, learning skills, and vocational attributes. The qualification will broaden learners’ experience and understanding of the varied progression options available to them.

Course components:

The Edexcel BTEC Tech Award in Digital Information Technology requires three component units to be completed. 

Component 1: Exploring User Interface Design Principles and Project Planning Techniques- 30%

Component 2: Collecting, Presenting and Interpreting Data – 30% Portfolio

Component 3: Effective Digital Working Practices- 40% is assessed through an external exam.

Course content:

The Information Technology course has been designed to engage and enthuse young people with an interest in Information Technology and its use.

Component 1 covers areas such as interface design and development principles e.g. information boards and mobile applications.

Component 2 covers the area of data collection, presentation and interpreting. Pupils will design and produce software that will collect data from an external sources, such as the internet, and present it in a suitable form for its users to interpret.

Finally, component 3 will explore how IT professionals work with digital solutions to integrate them into organisations and their activities. This will cover modern technologies, threats and legal issues.

What skills will pupils develop?

  • Creative processes to design digital products and interfaces
  • Project planning
  • Cyber security
  • System development for data collection and interpretation
  • Effective digital work practices
  • Technology in the workplace
  • Business and Commercial awareness

What attributes will pupils need to be successful in this subject?

  • Enthusiasm for ICT and Computing
  • Positive attitude to learning
  • Ability to meet deadlines
  • Ability to work independently
  • Abilty to take and act upon instructions

What career opportunities can this subject lead to?

This qualification provides a broad and solid foundation for further study of various aspects of creative computing, such as graphic design, web design and interactive media.
It supports progress to further study opportunities including A levels in IT or Computing and Level 3 BTECs in IT Support or Digital Technology. The qualification also enhances pupils' overall digital literacy, providing a solid foundation for a wide range of further study programmes and employment.

GCSE Computer Science

Course content

This is an academically challenging specification which provides a good understanding of the fundamental principles of computing, and offers pupils the opportunity to work with real-world programming. Pupils will study: computer systems; networks and security; and the use of algorithms in computer programs. They will also evaluate the effectiveness of computer programs/solutions and the ethical, legal, cultural and environmental impact of computer technology in society today and in the future.

How will pupils be assessed?

There are two externally assessed examinations at the end of Year 11. 

What attributes will pupils need to be successful in this subject:

  • An interest in computers and how they work
  • An interest in completing practical programming tasks
  • The ability to work independently both offline and online
  • Good analytical and problem solving skills

Please note that this is an academically  demanding course, most suitable for students who have a target grade of 6 or above in Maths, and/or an aptitude for Languages.

Key Stage 5

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Information Technology

This qualification is equivalent in size to 1 A-Level.

It is designed for learners who are interested in the creation and use of IT systems to manage and share information. Learners will develop a common core of IT knowledge, such as managing and processing data to support business, and using IT to communicate and share information.

Pupils will study 4 units over the duration of the two-year course. Assessment takes place through written exams, controlled assessment and internally marked coursework.

Unit 1: Information Technology Systems

Information technology (IT) systems have a significant role in the world around us and play a part in almost everything we do. Pupils will explore the relationships between the hardware and software that form an IT system, and the way that systems work individually and together, as well as the relationship between the user and the system. They will also examine issues related to the use of IT systems and the impact that they have on organisations and individuals.

This unit is assessed through a 2 hour written examination, comprising 33% of the final qualification grade.

Unit 2: Creating Systems to Manage Information

In order to produce information to support a range of business and social applications, relational databases are widely used to manage and process data. From the smallest in-house systems to stock control systems for large online retailers, databases are repositories of information that are a significant part of organisational operating requirements. Pupils will examine the structure of data and its origins, and how an efficient data design follows through to an effective and useful database. They will examine a given scenario and develop an effective design solution to produce a database system. Pupils will then test their solutions before evaluating each stage of the development process and the efficacy of their database solutions.

This unit is assessed through a 10 hour set task that pupils will completed over a 1 week period, comprising 25% of the final qualification grade.

Unit 3: Using Social Media in Business

Social media websites are a popular way for people to communicate and share information with friends and family. This unit explores the ways in which social media can be used in a business context. Pupils will explore different social media websites, the ways in which they can be used and the potential pitfalls when using them for business purposes. They will develop a plan to use social media strategies for business purposes to achieve specific objectives. Pupils will then implement the plan, developing and posting content and interacting with others. Finally, pupils will collect data on the business use of social media and review the efficacy of their efforts.

This unit is assessed through an internally set assignment that pupils complete during timetabled lessons, comprising 25% of the final qualification grade.

Unit 4: Data Modelling

In all aspects of life, individuals are constantly faced with situations where they must weigh up the available information in order to produce alternatives and make decisions. In the working environment, effective decision making can ensure the successful development of organisations. Poor decision making can have significant negative consequences and can even lead to the demise of an organisation. In this unit, pupils will investigate the fundamentals of the decision-making process. They will find out how using data modelling provides the computational ability to compare consequences, and determine a preferred course of action. Pupils will develop the skills and techniques necessary to create complex spreadsheets in order to produce accurate information that informs decision making. Pupils will examine a scenario and then design, develop and test a spreadsheet, reviewing and refining this based on user feedback, before providing an evaluation of the efficacy of the alternatives produced.

This unit is assessed through an internally set assignment completed during timetabled lessons, comprising 17% of the final qualification grade.

Exam Board:  Pearson Edexcel

For further details please visit:  http://qualifications.pearson.com/en/qualifications/btec-nationals/information-technology-2016.html#tab-1

A Level Computer Science

Computer Science is a practical subject where learners can apply the academic principles learned in the classroom to real world systems. It is an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement, and can look at the natural world through a digital prism.

The OCR A Level in Computer Science builds computational thinking, and helps learners to develop the skills to solve problems, design systems and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence.

Learners will develop an ability to analyze, critically evaluate and make decisions. The project approach is a vital component of ‘post-school’ life and is of particular relevance to Further Education, Higher Education and the workplace. Each learner is able to tailor their project to fit their individual needs, choices and aspirations.

Computer Science is a good general foundation for a number of subject disciplines including IT, Computer Science, Information Systems, Multimedia, Software Engineering, Computer Networking, Software Development, Internet/ Games related, Animation, Programming and Information Management. Pupils could also go into work based training including a variety of apprenticeship schemes. With the continuing application of computer technologies, rapid growth of hardware and software technologies, their allied industries, and widespread application, the demand for graduates is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

Computer Science sits particularly well alongside Maths and Science subjects, to form a strong portfolio of post-16 study.


A Level Computer Science consists of two components (Components 01 and 02), which are examined by means of a written examination, and a non-examination assessment 'Programming Project' (Component 03 or 04).

It is anticipated that all students will be developing their programming skills in Year 12 in preparation for the programming Project during Year 13.

Assessment: Computer systems (01) – 2 ½ hour written paper

Weighting: 40% of the total A Level.

Assessment: Computer systems (02) – 2 ½ hour written paper

Weighting: 40% of the total A Level.

Assessment: Programming project (03* or 04**)

Weighting: 20% of the total A level

Exam board: OCR

For further details please visit: OCR A Level Computer Science H446 Specification