ICT is more than about learning what all of the buttons do or what happens when you press every icon; we ask students to think about what they are aiming to create and enable them to use the software in the best way to achieve their goal. In Computing, we go one step further and provide students with the ability to create their own software. The skills learnt here will prove useful for the rest of their life, even if they do not choose to follow a programming career.
The department teaches the OCR Computing A-Level. This is a course which educates students in how to become a competent programmer as well as giving them technical knowledge relating to the ways and reasons why computers work. The specification also encourages students to gain an understanding of systematic methods - such as the use of algorithms and test strategies, the maintenance of computer systems, and the skills associated with documenting solutions.
The department aims to stimulate enthusiasm and extend creativity well beyond the standard syllabus. Students in the Sixth Form learn how to program using industry standard languages such as Python and PHP, the latter often being embedded into an HTML source which is extended using CSS mark-up.
The course itself is made up of two mandatory units at AS and two further units at A2. Of the A2 units, one is internally assessed through coursework whilst the remaining units are externally assessed by means of examinations taken at the end of the second year.
Final year coursework projects have had a significant impact in areas across the school. The swipe card system used for social events was designed and implemented by a former student whilst a current student is in the process of constructing a print monitor system to help reduce the amount of paper wastage across departments and houses.
In addition to work completed inside the classroom, students will have the opportunity to visit Bletchley Park, the country’s main decryption establishment during World War II. The department also has a good relationship with IBM and second year students are often invited for a tour of a main UK facility before meeting with industry experts to share and gain additional advice in regards to their final year coursework projects.
Interesting visitors have included Neil Wakefield (videogame developer), Ian Yorston (the ‘unreasonable man’), Paul Vingoe (military encryption specialist) and Dr. Andy Stanford-Clark and Laura Cowen, our invaluable contacts at IBM.