"How you gather, manage, and use information will determine whether you win or lose."
- Bill Gates
"Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination."
- Albert Einstein
Computer Science Department Objectives
Computer Science is an optional subject and, consequently, the programme of study starts in Year 9. It is an engaging and practical subject that strongly encourages creativity and problem-solving and enables students to develop their understanding and application of the core concepts in computer science. You would be able to find out how a computer does what it does so amazingly fast! Your journey will initiate you into ‘talking’ to a computer using programming languages and analyse problems in computational terms while devising creative solutions by designing, writing, testing and evaluating programs.
Key Stage 4
The programme of study started in Year 9 will significantly evolve in preparing for the OCR’s GCSE (9–1) Computer Science exam.
This will encourage students to:
- Understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of Computer Science, including abstraction, decomposition, logic, algorithms, and data representation
- Analyse problems in computational terms through practical experience of solving such problems, including designing, writing and debugging programs
- Think creatively, innovatively, analytically, logically and critically
- Understand the components that make up digital systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems
- Understand the impacts of digital technology to the individual and to wider society
- Apply mathematical skills relevant to Computer Science.
All pupils are assessed termly and all assessments are graded against the government standards. Pupils will follow the OCR assessment criteria and all work done will be against the GCSE assessment objectives.
The programme of study consists of the following three components:
- Component 01: Computer systems - written exam - 40% of Total GCSE
Introduces students to the central processing unit (CPU), computer memory and storage, wired and wireless networks, network topologies, system security and system software. It also looks at ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns associated with computer science.
- Component 02: Computational thinking, algorithms and programming - written exam - 40% of Total GCSE
Students apply knowledge and understanding gained in component 01. They develop skills and understanding in computational thinking: algorithms, programming techniques, producing robust programs, computational logic, translators and data representation. The skills and knowledge developed within this component will support the learner when completing the Programming Project.
- Programming Project - non-examined assessment (NEA) - 20% of Total GCSE
Students use OCR Programming Project tasks to develop their practical ability in the skills developed in components 01 and 02. They will have the opportunity to define success criteria from a given problem, and then create suitable algorithms to achieve the success criteria. Students then code their solutions in a suitable programming language, and check its functionality using a suitable and documented test plan. Finally they will evaluate the success of their solution and reflect on potential developments for the future.
Key Stage 5
OCR A Level Computer Science programme of study is above all else relevant to the modern and changing world of computing. It is an intensely creative subject that combines invention and excitement, and looks at the natural world through a digital prism. At this stage, students will value computational thinking, helping them to develop the skills to solve problems, design systems and understand the power and limits of human and machine intelligence. Students will be able develop an ability to analyse, 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 will be able to tailor their project to fit their individual needs, choices and aspirations with OCR offering a rigorous assessment structure that ensures the integrity of the project.
KS5 Content overview
Students must take all the following three components to be awarded the OCR A Level in Computer Science.
Component 01: Computer systems
Students are introduced to the internal workings of the (CPU), data exchange, software development, data types and legal and ethical issues. The resulting knowledge and understanding will underpin their work in component 03.
- The characteristics of contemporary processors, input, output and storage devices
- Types of software and the different methodologies used to develop software
- Data exchange between different systems
- Data types, data structures and algorithms
- Legal, moral, cultural and ethical issues.
Component 02: Algorithms and programming
This builds on component 01 to include computational thinking and problem-solving.
- What is meant by computational thinking (thinking abstractly, thinking ahead, thinking procedurally etc.)
- Problem solving and programming – how computers and programs can be used to solve problems
- Algorithms and how they can be used to describe and solve problems.
Component 03: Programming project
Students are expected to apply the principles of computational thinking to a practical coding programming project. They will analyse, design, develop, test, evaluate and document a program written in a suitable programming language. The project is designed to be independently chosen by the student and provides them with the flexibility to investigate projects within the diverse field of computer science. We support a wide and diverse range of languages.