The Perse School
 

Computer Science

Learning how computers and computer systems work, and how to solve problems in a structured, logical way.

Our aim

We see computer science as a ‘fourth science’. Our approach to the subject was developed with input from Cambridge high tech entrepreneurs, academics, other schools and the Computing At School organisation. Our curriculum is grounded in a rigorous and academic approach, exactly like any other science.

Now in its fifth year, our computer science course is intended to introduce the subject in a serious way to the younger years, giving all pupils a strong foundation in years 7 and 8 from which to progress to IGCSE and A level computer science, if they choose to from year 9 onwards.

Learning journey - Years 7-9

The course has been carefully designed to be accessible to all, regardless of previous formal computer science teaching.

Lessons are held both in ICT rooms and classrooms, reflecting the need for a strong grounding in thinking skills and theoretical concepts alongside the more practical programming tasks.

Lessons include:

  • A thorough and systematic grounding in algorithms and programming with open-ended and easily accessible practical tasks to help students master their new skills
  • Mathematical and digital technology concepts explored through programming tasks
  • An exploration of theoretical concepts

There is plenty of practical work such as programming Python, The BBC micro:bit (mini-computer) and HTML/CSS as well as an introduction to databases.

Learning journey - IGCSE

Students who elect to take computer science to IGCSE develop their understanding of the main principles of problem-solving using computers. They apply their understanding to develop computer-based solutions to problems using algorithms and a high-level programming language. They also develop a range of technical skills, as well as the ability to test effectively and to evaluate computing solutions.

The course helps students appreciate current and emerging computing technologies and the benefits of their use, and they learn to recognise the ethical issues and potential risks when using computers.

The course is open to students who join The Perse at Year 9 and have not previously studied computer science, as we recap on the basics and provide some structured Year 7/8 review material to aid the transition.

Providing stretch

We regularly set optional tasks for pupils who would like to do extra work to deepen their knowledge or skills, from writing a program to find the Highest Common Factor of two integers to researching the origins of the World Wide Web. Certain coding websites such as projecteuler.net, code.org or hackerrank.com are popular places to develop programming skills.

We enter the Bebras Computing Challenge and consistently perform strongly at the national level. We also enter the Think Computer Science Oxford Computing Challenge with national success in multiple age groups. We have several additional team-based competitions during the year in addition to our own internal spring-code challenges; we publish an extension booklet to students to inform them of all the opportunities to get involved.

Higher up the school, our best students enter the British Informatics Olympiad and in 2017 Thomas Read was selected to join the UK team in the International Informatics Olympiad in Tehran, where he won a prestigious silver medal.

Beyond the classroom

There is plenty of scope for extension for those who develop a passion for the subject. The Perse Programmers club runs weekly, offering a range of certificates, extension problems and competitions.

We also offer Digital Literacy club to enable students to achieve industry-approved Microsoft Office Specialist qualifications.

 

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