The national curriculum for computing aims to ensure that all pupils:
- can understand and apply the fundamental principles and concepts of computer science, including abstraction, logic, algorithms and data representation
- can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
- can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
- are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology.
Our Programme of Study provides coherence and flexibility
Our Northgate High School computing curriculum is structured in units. For the units to be coherent, the lessons within them are taught in order. However, the curriculum is flexible in terms of the order in which these units are taught within a year group, except for programming, where concepts and skills rely on prior knowledge and experiences. That way we are able to provide differentiated learning experiences.
Our Knowledge organisation
Our Northgate High School curriculum applies the National Curriculum and is underpinned by the National Centre for Computing Education’s computing taxonomy. All learning outcomes of our pupils can be described through nine topics, ordered alphabetically as follows:
- design, use and evaluate computational abstractions that model the state and behaviour of real-world problems and physical systems
- 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
- understand how computer systems communicate with one another and with other systems
- understand the hardware and software components that make up computer systems
- understand how instructions are stored and executed within a computer system;
- develop their capability, creativity and knowledge in computer science, digital media and information technology
Data and Information
- understand how data of various types (including text, sounds and pictures) can be represented and manipulated digitally, in the form of binary digits
- undertake creative projects that involve selecting, using, and combining multiple applications, preferably across a range of devices, to achieve challenging goals, including collecting and analysing data and meeting the needs of known users
Design & Development
- create, re-use, revise and re-purpose digital artefacts for a given audience, with attention to trustworthiness, design and usability
Impact of technology
- use two 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
- 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]
Safety and Security
- understand a range of ways to use technology safely, respectfully, responsibly and securely, including protecting their online identity and privacy; recognise inappropriate content, contact and conduct and know how to report concerns
See link for parents’ guidance here
The topics categorise and organise the content into strands. Whilst all strands are present at all phases, they are not always taught explicitly.
We are inclusive and ambitious
We want to be able to support all Northgate High School pupils. Our units will be pitched so that pupils with different starting points can access them. Our lessons are sequenced so that each builds on prior learning. Our activities can be scaffolded so all children can succeed. We encourage our students to work independently and proceed through the lesson content at their own speed. During lessons, we use unplugged or real world activities to unpack difficult concepts in computing as part of a semantic wave of learning. We also use a range of scaffolding approaches when teaching programming, ranging from copying code, exploring some commands or functions, fixing code with bugs to solving specific problems with code. All lessons are accessible both from home and school via the google classroom platform.
We provide application through software
At Northgate High School, we strongly believe that we need pupils to be thinking during their lessons – both to engage with the subject and to strengthen memory of what is being learnt. Some of our lessons require practical application of concepts and skills on a computer using appropriate software. We supplement our lessons with guidance on how to use such software to reinforce the learning from the lesson.
We aim for motivation through learning
We all know that computing is inherently interesting, and seek to motivate pupils through the subject matter. Where possible, we draw on real world experiences to provide an engaging viewpoint on computing concepts. Every pupil should have the opportunity to implement their skills and knowledge and ultimately feel a sense of achievement. We provide opportunities for pupils to be creative and solve problems by building their own programmes and applications for example.
A final note…
We are currently working towards the proposed structure outlined below in KS3 Computing and KS4 Computer Science. This means that until the 2023 intake, a more fluid teaching of units is being implemented, depending on pupils’ needs, progress and timetable. Lessons are delivered in one of the four available IT suites.
Topic Structure Overview (from first teaching 2023)