IT & Computing

At St Mary’s we believe that the future workforce will need technical expertise in areas such as IT and Computing, plus skills which robots cannot replace – flexibility, empathy, creativity and enterprise. The Digital Revolution was prompted by the Bank of England’s prediction that up to 15 million jobs are at risk of automation across the UK economy including professions such as law and accountancy. The economy is changing at an unprecedented pace. Every day, jobs are being lost in professions we used to regard as careers for life. Artificial intelligence, robots, 3D printing and driverless vehicles will impact on sectors as varied as the legal profession, transport and construction.

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. This is why we are offer all pupils at Key Stage 3 1hr a week IT & Computing lessons and all Key Stage 4/5 pupils the opportunity to study IT & Computing at a higher level.

Key Stage 3
In Key Stage 3 pupils follow the programmes of study set out by the national curriculum.
Year 7

·          Using computers safely (including Online safety)

·          Digital literacy: Word processing skills

·          Digital literacy: PowerPoint skills (builds from Online safety)

·          Introduction to computing

·          Binary

Year 8

·         Digital literacy: Word processing skills

·         Digital literacy: PowerPoint skills (includes Online Safety)

·         Modelling

·         Programming with Scratch

·           Graphics

Year 9

·         Digital literacy: Word processing skills

·         Digital literacy: Advanced PowerPoint skills (includes Online safety)

·         Understanding Computers

·         Modelling

·          Handling data

Key Stage 4
Key Stage 4
The BTEC Tech Award in Digital Information Technology

is for learners who wish to acquire and develop their 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, 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, legal and ethical codes of conduct.

The qualification recognises the value of learning skills, knowledge 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. Units of study

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 eg: information boards, 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 I 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 I need to be successful in this Subject?

-Enthusiasm for ICT and Computing

-Positive attitude to learning

-Able to meet deadlines

-Ability to work independently

-Able to take and act on 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, including:

-A level in IT or Computing

-Level 3 BTECs in Technical Certificate in IT Support or Digital Technology

-It also enhances young people’s overall digital literacy and gives them a solid foundation for further

study and employment.

GCSE Computer Science

Course content

This course involves working with real-world programming and provides a good understanding of the fundamental principles of computing. You will have a chance to look at computer systems, networks and security, and the use of algorithms in computer programs. You 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. This GCSE provides an academically challenging specification for students of all ability levels.

How will you be assessed?

There are two externally assessed examinations at the end of Year 11. There is a considerable amount of practical programming to build skills, but it is likely that from 2019 this will no longer be externally assessed.

You will succeed on this course if you:

-          Have an interest in computers and how they work

-          Enjoy completing practical programming tasks

-          Like working independently both offline and online

-          Are happy to work hard at analysis and problem solving

-          Enjoy being on the edge of your knowledge and like a challenge

Note that this is an academically challenging and 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


Key Stage 5
BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Information Technology

This qualification is designed for learners who are interested in an introduction to the study of creating IT systems to manage and share information, alongside other fields of study, with a view to progressing to a wide range of higher education courses, not necessarily in IT. Learners will develop a common core of IT knowledge and study areas such as managing and processing data to support business and using IT to communicate and share information.

Equivalent in size to 1 A-Level

You will study 4 units. A mix of written exam, controlled assessment and internally marked coursework.

Course Details and Assessment

You will study a total of four units over the duration of this two year course:

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. Having a sound understanding of how to effectively select and use appropriate IT systems will benefit you personally and professionally.

You 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. You will 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. The result in this unit contributes to 33% of the final qualification grade.

Unit 2: Creating Systems to Manage Information

In order to produce information to support many business processes as well as our social lives, 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.

You will examine the structure of data and its origins, and how an efficient data design follows through to an effective and useful database. You will examine a given scenario and develop an effective design solution to produce a database system. You will then test your solution to ensure that it works correctly. Finally, you will evaluate each stage of the development process and the effectiveness of your database solution.

This unit is assessed through a 10 hour examination board set task that you will completed over a 1 week period. The result in this unit contributes to 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. People spend a lot of time on social media websites and they give businesses opportunities to interact with people, for example to promote their business or to encourage people to visit their e-commerce site and buy. You may be familiar with social media for personal use and in this unit you will discover how it can be used in a business context.

You will explore different social media websites, the ways in which they can be used and the potential pitfalls when using them for business purposes. You will develop a plan to use social media strategies for business purposes to achieve specific objectives. You will then implement the plan, developing and posting content and interacting with others. Finally, you will collect data on the business use of social media and review the effectiveness of your efforts.

This unit is assessed through an internally set assignment that you will complete during your timetabled lessons. The result in this unit contributes to 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, you will investigate the fundamentals of the decision-making process. You will find out how using data modelling provides the computational ability to compare consequences, and determine a preferred course of action. You will develop the skills and techniques necessary to create complex spreadsheets in order to produce accurate information that informs decision making. You will examine a scenario and then design, develop and test a spreadsheet; you will review your spreadsheet and make refinements based on user feedback, providing an evaluation of the effectiveness of the alternatives produced.

This unit is assessed through an internally set assignment that you will complete during your timetabled lessons. The result in this unit contributes to 17% of the final qualification grade.

Exam Board:  Edexcel Pearsons

For further details please visit:

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.

OCR A Level in Computer Science will value computational thinking, helping 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.

Career Options:

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. You 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.

Subject Combinations:

Computer Science/Maths/Physics.

Computer Science/Maths/Further Maths.

Computer Science/Chemistry/Physics.


A Level Computer Science will consist of 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**)

For further information about the ICT & Computing curriculum please contact:

Mr S Gannon

Head of Department