GCSE Computer Science at Queen Elizabeth School
You have grown up in a world where technology is evolving rapidly, creating new subject areas to explore and changing the way people work in every area from medicine and fashion to engineering and economics. So whatever your career plans, you know it’s vital to develop your grasp of these ideas and concepts that will shape your world.
That’s why we now offer two new routes into Year 10 and beyond. On the one hand, we offer BTEC IT, where students explore the latest technologies from industry & business and apply their skills to make mobile apps or blogs and websites. And on the other hand, we offer GCSE Computer Science, where students delve deeper into the theoretical side of these technologies, while developing skills in problem solving and programming.
So for BTEC IT, think ‘industry & applied skills’. And for Computer Science, think ‘theory & programming’.
In a nutshell, GCSE Computer Science explores the principles of digital technology and way of working that’s called ‘computational thinking’, with coding as a core of the course. You’ve got to be able to think logically, solve puzzles and be tenacious when the going gets tough. But it is also really creative and you’ll get a real buzz out of getting something to work yourself, especially when programming. So if you enjoyed Scratch in previous years or game design then you might find computing is for you. Before you can do the complicated stuff you need to master the basics. Making a computer dance to your tune is a really creative thing - but let’s not pretend it’s easy. Computer Science will make you think. It will stretch you and test your powers of logic and patience. It might even drive you a bit crazy at times. In short, Computer Science is serious fun!
There are three units:
Unit 1 is called ‘Computer Systems and Programming’. This is where you begin to get beneath the surface of how computers work and communicate with each other. For example, you’ll learn about the principles on which a processor operates and how it interacts with memory. You’ll find out how it is all based on binary logic and how different things like sound and video can be stored in a computer. Most of all though, you’ll be learning some of the key techniques behind programming – how to express ideas in sequences of steps, how to approach solving problems and what the main tricks are to get your code doing what you want.
Unit 2 is all about research. It’s called ‘Current Trends in Computing’ and the exam board will give you a choice of possible topics to study. The research will have to be planned and will be technically oriented - involving practical activities and investigations. We can’t tell you what’s on offer just yet, but it might be something like investigating ways to improve access time to things stored on your hard drive.
Unit 3 is the real programming stuff. A series of practical projects, each involving 3 tasks that get harder as you move up the levels. Don’t worry if you have never programmed before – we don’t expect you to have. In fact the first task in each project can probably be done using something like Scratch, so it will be reasonably familiar to most of you. The whole point of these projects is to build up your confidence and skills so that, by the end of the course, you might want to go on and do the real ‘pro’ programming we do at A level.
Unit 1 is assessed by a written exam worth 40% of the total grade – and some of the questions will ask you to write some simple code!
Unit 2 - You’ll have to write a report, showing what you’ve done and what you have discovered along the way. It’s worth 30% of the final mark.
Unit 3 is worth 30% of the final mark.
It’s no exaggeration to say the world runs on computers. They are everywhere: in homes, schools and offices but not just in the way you think. They are also embedded in all sorts of machines. Computers control airplanes, chemical plants, send rockets to space, control the central heating and make sure your Mum’s car runs efficiently. As new things are developed, the world needs more and more people to research new ways of using computers to do the things they want.
GCSE Computer Science (Computing) is a great foundation for going on to do Computing at A level. And Computing at A level is a great foundation for going on to study Computer Science at University. And that can open up a lot of possibilities!
But you don’t have to want to go on to be a computer scientist to do this course – you might just be curious about learning a bit more. That’s why we are offering it. The skills you learn will be of enormous benefit in lots of your other subjects. Nicholas Negroponte – a famous man whose ‘One Laptop per Child’ project is trying to get computers to children in the developing world once said, “Computer programming is a powerful tool for children to ‘learn learning,’ that is, to learn the skills of thinking and problem-solving… Children who engage in programming transfer that kind of learning to other things.”
If you’ve got any questions come and have a chat with Mrs Chambers or Mr Davies
How to apply
If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Queen Elizabeth School directly.