Durham Johnston Comprehensive School

Dare to be wise

"Everyone should know how to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think"

Steve Jobs - Co-founder of Apple Inc

Computer Science is an important skill in the digital age that we live it. We want to enthuse our students to become the creators of new technology rather than to simply be the consumers. Skills learnt in this subject will help students develop their problem solving skills that will help them in various other subjects and walks of life even if our students do not end up being the next Bill Gates.  

 

Our aim is to teach students to design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems. Understand several key algorithmsthat reflect computational thinking [for example, ones for sorting and searching]; use logical reasoning to compare the utility of alternative algorithms for the same problem.

Students who take this subject will be able to use two or more programming languages, at least one of which is textual, to solve a variety of computational problems;

Please be aware that at GCSE and A-Level this is a rigorous subject that requires a good mathematical ability and willingness to work independently.

 

GCSE Computing

 

This section applies only to students who started this qualification in September 2015 for examination in summer 2017.

Examination Board: OCR (J275)

The course is a rigorous, academic course and is recognised as such by being included in the EBacc suite of qualifications as a science. If you are thinking of studying mathematics, physics or engineering at a higher level then computing will be a useful qualification. If you plan to get involved in software development, for example in computer gaming, then computing will be an essential qualification in the future.

The aim of this course is to study the basics of how computers work. We will look at the types of hardware involved, including different types of operating systems and networking. We will study binary and hexadecimal arithmetic and simple logic diagrams. We will use this knowledge to explore the different ways in which computers store and process data. A large part of the course will be devoted to understanding and designing simple algorithms and writing computer programs. No previous knowledge of these topics is needed or assumed. We will use freely available resources to develop an understanding of standard programming techniques that can be used in any of the standard languages.

To be able to program, you must think very carefully about what you want to happen, in what order it must happen and how to react when the user does different things. You must also be prepared to develop simple formulas and use them fluently. A logical mind and some facility with mathematics are essential for success.

The programming part of this course will mostly use a free to download programming langauage: Python 3.2. Python is freely available for all major operating systems and is an easy to read, fully featured language.

Course Structure

There is one exam, worth 40% of the overall grade, and two controlled assessments, each worth 30%. The details are:

Unit A451

Computer systems and programming. This covers the theory on which the examination is based.

Unit A452 - Practical Investigation.

This controlled assessment involves investigating a piece of software or programming environment from a list provided by the board. It assesses research, technical understanding, problem solving, evaluation and technical writing skills.

Unit A453 - Programming Project.

This controlled assessment involves producing a coded solution to a problem from a list chosen by the board. Students will need to develop suitable algorithms, create a working program and then test and evaluate their solution.