Computer Science

Year 9

The year 9 Technology curriculum has three objectives: to teach the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum for Computer Science;  to equip students with a platform of skills and knowledge required to access the GCSE syllabus; and to give students an understanding of technology which can be transferred to any other subject within the school.   

Students will be taught the material in two strands: Computer Science (CS) and Information Technology (IT) each for two lessons per week.  In CS lessons students will study modelling, computational thinking, algorithm design/development and how a computer works at a low level. 

National Curriculum Topics

In Computer Science lessons, students will be taught to:

  1. Design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems 
  2. Understand several key algorithms that reflect computational thinking (for example, ones for sorting and searching); use logical reasoning to compare the utility of alternative algorithms for the same problem 
  3. Use 2 or more programming languages, at least one of which is textual, to solve a variety of computational problems; make appropriate use of data structures (for example, lists, tables or arrays); design and develop modular programs that use procedures or functions 
  4. Understand simple Boolean logic (for example, AND, OR and NOT) and some of its uses in circuits and programming; understand how numbers can be represented in binary, and be able to carry out simple operations on binary numbers (for example, binary addition, and conversion between binary and decimal)
  5. Understand the hardware and software components that make up computer systems, and how they communicate with one another and with other systems 
  6. Understand how instructions are stored and executed within a computer system; understand how data of various types (including text, sounds and pictures) can be represented and manipulated digitally, in the form of binary digits 
  • Year 9 Lesson Objectives and Project Details

    Mars has been a source of interest to humans since ancient times. Recently Space-x has been making plans; to send cargo in 2022 then a crew to start the journey 2024. Elon Musk dreams of a colony of 1000 people living and working on the Red Planet. During year 9 we will use a potential Mars colony as inspiration for our work.

     Autumn Term: Project 1 - Transport (NC topics 1, 3, 4)

    At Airbus in Stevenage the Mars Rover2 has been built and is currently being programmed. The surface of Mars is sandy, covered in rocks and mountainous. The team at Airbus has designed a vehicle that reacts to its environment using AI to take the best route.   

    Students will work in small teams to design a vehicle using Lego Mindstorms that will avoid obstacles, clamber over small objects, climb inclines and carry cargo.

    Autumn Term: Project 2 - Vehicle Safety (NC topics 1, 3, 4)

    Being on Mars, transport is especially hard to replace if damaged. It is therefore especially important to prevent the vehicles from crashing into each other, driving in unsafe areas and stopping at loading bay doors. 

    Students will use Microsoft Small Basic programming language to design a logical light system to keep vehicles safe. They will then be asked to replicate their solution with an Arduino and an electronics kit. Lastly, they will need to adapt their Lego vehicle to make use of the system. 

    Spring Term: Project 3 - Hydroponics (NC topics 1, 3, 4)

    Water on Mars will be limited, and growing food will be difficult. Having a smart system that monitors moisture in the soil and keeps water levels for different types of plants at the correct level will be vital for survival. 

    Working in teams, students will design a system that monitors moisture levels and supplies water to individual plants when required. Each team will then develop a working prototype using Arduino

    Spring and Summer Term: Project 4 - Send and Receive Messages (NC topics 1, 2, 3, 4, 6)

    Send a message from Earth to Mars takes between 4 and 21 minutes depending on the distance between the two planets. Most data are sent via radio wave that has been encoded before sending then decoded on arrival.   

    Each team will use Small Basic to change a message from a string to binary and back again. We will also look at binary maths, logic gates and how images/sound files are stored.  The key concepts we cover can be reviewed on BBC Bitesize via the link below:

    Summer Term: Project 5 - Space Suit Interface (NC topics 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) 

    Having an interface on a space suit that can be easily read and interpreted is vital for survival. Working individually, students will design an interface that could be attached to the sleeve of a space suit. They will need to think about the hardware and software required to run the system.   When the design is complete students will develop a prototype using Small Basic.  These concepts are covered by BBC Bitesize here in their Hardward and Software module.

GCSE Computer Science

We aim to develop the knowledge and skills required for our students to play an active role in the digital world that surrounds them. Developing a firm grasp of computing concepts will help them get the best from the systems they use, solve problems when they go wrong and develop new systems when they are required.  

We believe all students will find it empowering to study a combination of computational thinking, computing principles and a computational approach to problem-solving. The ability to focus this combination of academic and practical skills on a problem will help bring success in all curriculum subjects and the CAST challenge projects. 

There can sometimes be confusion about the differences between IT and Computer Science. Computer Science refers to the processes used to create usable computer programmes and applications together with all the theory behind those processes. Information Technology, on the other hand, refers to the application of computer programmes to solve problems. 

Computing in industry is essentially a practical subject which applies theory to design and develop products for clients. With this in mind, we have developed our curriculum to reflect modern business practice. Most learning is delivered through projects, which involve project management, teamwork, report writing and the use of industry standard tools.       


In Year 10 and 11 students follow the OCR Computer Science Specification. The course aims to develop students' understanding and practical application of computational thinking, problem-solving and theoretical knowledge of Computer Science. 

This course material covers 11 taught sections over two components:  

Component 1: 

  1. Systems Architecture 
  2. Memory & Storage 
  3. Computer Networks, connections and protocols 
  4. Network Security 
  5. Systems Software 
  6. Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental impacts of digital technology 

Component 2:

  1. Algorithms 
  2. Programming fundamentals (using VB.net and SQL) 
  3. Producing robust programs 
  4. Boolean logic 
  5. Programming languages and Integrated Development Environments

Each component is assessed with a 1hr 30minute written paper.

  • GCSE course progression

    Year 10

    Autumn Term - develop understanding of algorithms and programming using Visual Basic, covering: variables, arrays, selection, subroutines/functions, for and while loops. They will work through a variety of projects including: a grade calculator; a programme using functions to calculate the area of different shapes; and a traffic light simulation. Students finish the term by using their new skills to design and develop a Dungeons and Dragons game. 

    Spring Term - start with several new programming constructs: string manipulation, random numbers, records and 2-dimensional arrays.  We also broaden the focus of the course to include machine architecture, Boolean algebra and logic circuits. Students design and develop a 'Computer versus Human' battleships game. 

    Summer Term - students will complete projects which will provide them with the practical programming skills they will need for these exams and for further study of Computer Science. The projects include creating a garden design budget calculator and an encryption project. Also, we will start to focus on the theoretical aspects of the course, which will cover machine code, search and sort algorithms. 

    Year 11

    We start with a recap of the coding constructs students have learnt in Year 10. Students will then begin learning the remaining theory needed for the course whilst building on their programming skills.  It is important that students understand the context for applying the theory they are learning. With this in mind, we have developed projects and tasks that allow our learners to see how Computer Science affects the wider world:

    1. Networking and network security.  Students are given a plan for a two-story building and asked to design a secure physical network suitable for a Computer Science company.  They will cover network topologies, protocols, and security. 
    2. Extending project 1. Students focus on the protocols need to run a network by developing an interactive presentation covering TCP/IP. 

    In the Spring term students design a series of public information posters that cover aspects of cyber security, including social engineering, malware, ethical hacking. The final task of the year is to research and create a presentation that explains the ethical, legal and environmental responsibilities that Computer Scientists have in the modern world.