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Computer Science

ICT and Computing allows pupils to explore the latest technologies and develop a broad range of skills essential to the modern world.

Computing at The Oratory  is very much driven by the idea of making learning to code fun, through the use of physical computing. Classes are hands on, using devices such as Raspberry Pis and BBC Micro:bits, and various add-ons so that the pupils can get their code to make things happen in the real world (such as controlling LED lights, scrolling text messages, check the temperature or even interacting with Minecraft worlds) rather than just running a program on a monitor.

Innovate and Create

The Computing Department is heavily involved in the school’s STEAM Society (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). We have to date worked on an iBeacon project and also building and flying micro-drones, using a newly acquired 3D printer to make the chassis and camera-mount.

About

Computing is something I have been passionate about since getting my first home computer (a Commodore VIC-20 for those old enough to remember them). I have always had a love of language and I see coding as something complementary to my passion for literature. A good piece of programming code is like a well-written poem: concise, elegant, well-structured and powerful in its effect.

A career in the IT industry after an English Literature degree saw me go from selling software, to working in technical support and on to becoming a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. Working as an IT Consultant I also specialised in database work and application design for small businesses.

I have kept my knowledge and interest in IT going since becoming a teacher. Recent developments in technology and tools to help teach computing, as well as the recent changes to the curriculum, have meant that I was keen to make the leap fully back into Computing.

Mr Ronan O'Sullivan - Head of Digital Strategy

Curriculum

1st, 2nd, and 3rd Forms

There is one lesson a week for Computing. The curriculum is divided into three different areas: Coding, Computer Skills and E-Safety.

Coding starts off with more accessible systems such as Scratch and block-based coding with Micro:bits and using Code.org. Progress is then made onto text-based coding using Python and also looking at HTML and CSS scripting.

Computer skills focuses on ensuring that key digital literacy is in place and ranges from touch-typing practice to using MS Office packages to make sure that pupils can create graphs in Excel, presentations in PowerPoint and query data in Access.

With ever-increasing threats to privacy online, we aim to cover how pupils can protect their identity online and how to use social media safely and responsibly. As pupils have their own devices, it is important that they know how to use them and look after them.

4th and 5th Forms

In 1943, Thomas Watson, President of IBM, thought that there would be, ‘a world market for maybe five computers’. There are now estimated to be 2 billion computers in the world. Computer Science GCSE will help give you the grounding needed to navigate in this digital age.

The course will teach pupils the key elements of computing, from the theory behind computer systems and programming to the practical skills required to code solutions in a modern language such as Python.

Computer Science at GCSE is wide-ranging, exciting, and demanding, and is considered as stretching and content filled as any of the other three traditional science GCSEs. The work is split fairly evenly between learning computing concepts and technologies and practical coding work on computers. This balance goes all the way through to the final exams, where assessment is split between a theory paper and a practical exam, taken on a computer. This practical exam should provide all of the benefits of strong, activity-based learning, without the disadvantages of traditional coursework.

Co-Curricular

The Computing Department is heavily involved in the school’s STEAM Society (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics). To date we have worked on an iBeacon project and also building and flying micro-drones, using a newly acquired 3D printer to make the chassis and camera-mount.