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Computing

Head of Department: Miss S Biletchi.
Email: sorina.biletchi@epsomcollege.org.uk

Computer technology is changing our lives. Profound as the change has been in recent years, this is just the beginning. The paperless office may have turned out to be a myth, but the driverless vehicle is already a reality and if the pace continues at the same rate, what will the world be like in 30 years' time? Will it just be slicker and more sophisticated, or will it be almost unrecognisable? 

At Epsom College technology is used across all subjects and pupils are becoming confident users of various devices and software made available across campus. Therefore, in Computing lessons we show our pupils not just how to use software, but particularly how it is made, and encourage them to write their own programs. We aim to instill into our pupils an enthusiasm for the technology that will then help them learn how to harness its power and develop its potential.

In KS3 years we introduce pupils to the fundamentals of problem solving and computational thinking, as well as the basic, fundamental programming concepts. We use programming as a tool to demonstrate these skills, with Python 3 programming language and a variety of other tools. We also teach them how information is stored in binary, and how data is stored in memory, using different units of memory storage; they learn to draw and manipulate shapes using algorithms, and create web pages from the ground up.

In the Computing side of STEM lessons carousel pupils learn how to use the Micro:Bit device, and hopefully from next year, how to program a robotics project.

The IGCSE Computer Science course focuses in more detail and on a deeper level on topics such as Boolean logic and algorithm design; pupils see how sophisticated programs work and learn how to write their own, starting from a PROBLEM they have to solve. They also learn how a processor works, how instructions are executed, and what the role of the operating system is. This is a new syllabus, much more forward-thinking and geared to the current developments in Computer Science education in our country, both in Primary and Secondary schools.

At A-Level our subject has already been running the reformed syllabus since September 2015. In collaboration with Computer Science departments at Cambridge, Oxford, and other reputable universities, the Government has decided to refresh the content of this qualification, making it more relevant to the present day, and ensuring students are much better prepared for a potential degree course in this subject. This is an exciting course where students take their programming journey to a new level and height, learning not only procedural programming (in the first year of study), but also the highly sought-after object-oriented programming skills. Computer Science is particularly relevant to pupils who are very keen on developing advanced programming skills, and who are considering progressing to a degree course in mathematics, science, business, economics or any of the technology/engineering disciplines. It is endorsed by all of the top universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, as a very acceptable entry qualification.

Follow the links below to learn more about Computing at Epsom College.

Courses

KS3

The main objective of the KS3 Computing course is to continue the work that pupils will have started at their previous school, aiming to make them critical and independent users of computer technology. We introduce new applications, and also further enhance their existing skills. Pupils will develop an understanding of the potential and limitations of software tools and the results they produce, and extend their thinking in relation to the applications of the technology in the wider world.

A second objective is to give them an introduction to the science and technology that underpins the IT systems they use. Rather than just showing them how to use software applications, we give them an insight into how the software is created. We introduce problem solving and computational thinking, and teach the basic, fundamental programming concepts.

Pupils will be working with a variety of coding environments - from programming languages installed locally, on our network, to online interactive tools which help them practise further, understand and learn a programming language.

Those who will enjoy the Computer Science elements of the course, programming in particular, will find it extremely rewarding to make a program work; many of those should elect to take the subject as an IGCSE option in Year 10 (the U4 year).

Topics include:

  • Basic networking
  • Email, standards and rules
  • eSafety
  • Decomposition and algorithms
  • Problem solving and computational thinking
  • Drawing and manipulating shapes in a graphical programming language, as well as text-based programming language
  • Web page creation
  • Binary number system
  • Encryption and Cryptography
  • Python 3 programming
  • Programming the Micro:Bit device

IGCSE Computer Science

The GCSE course is the International syllabus published by Cambridge International Examinations. This is a new, current and forward thinking syllabus.

Examination Board: CIE

Syllabus code: 0478

Topics include:

  • Binary and coding systems, including Hexadecimal and its uses
  • Communication and internet technologies
  • Computer architecture, including how instructions are executed (fetch-execute cycle)
  • Boolean logic, including what basic circuits contain, logic gates
  • Algorithm design using flowcharts and pseudocode
  • Programming concepts; we will use a combination of VB.Net and Python as tools to practise these concepts
  • Database design

Assessment:

Two written papers, one from the theoretical topics and the second from the practical, problem solving chapters.

A-level Computer Science

Computing is about designing new algorithms to solve new problems and, in this sense, it is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes. Many great challenges, current or future, lie in the training and perseverance of Computer Scientists to solve. This course, with its emphasis on abstract thinking, general problem-solving, algorithmic and mathematical reasoning, scientific and engineering-based thinking, is the best foundation for understanding these future challenges.

From September 2015 students have been taught the new, reformed specification content. It has been updated to relate to the present technology developments, and make it a lot more relevant to students who wish to further their studies with a Computer Science degree. This course is now ‘linear', meaning that, to achieve an A-level qualification, the exams will be taken at the end of the two years of study. From 2016/2017 academic year there will be no more AS exams, so the whole of the syllabus is assessed at the end of the two years of study. At the end of the first year there will be only internal assessment/examinations.

A significant amount of logic and mathematically-linked concepts are included in this specification (around 10%), which is why we recommend it to students with a minimum B in GCSE Maths, and a genuine interest in programming. Students are expected to complete a substantial programmed project by the end of the two years, whose complexity must meet specific criteria in order to qualify for high-end marks.

Examination Board: AQA

Specification code: 7517 (A-level)

The A-level topics include:

  • Fundamentals of algorithms; advanced programming concepts including recursion, OOP; abstract data structures; and optimisation algorithms
  • Functional programming
  • Binary, hexadecimal representation, including floating point
  • Computer Architecture, including the structure and role of a processor, and the fetch-execute cycle
  • Logic gates and Boolean algebra
  • Networking and communication technologies
  • Big Data

Department Staff

Head of Department

Miss S Biletchi, BSc (Bucharest)

 

Department Teaching Staff

A Day BSc (UWE), MEd (Cantab), PGCE (Middlesex)

R A Johnstone BTheol (Brunel)

A T Stride BA (Cantab)

Facilities

Personal computers are installed across the school in all departments, day houses and boarding houses. There are 4 dedicated computing classrooms, each fully equipped with Windows PCs. The school also has suites of Apple Mackintosh computers and a class set of Ipads.

Computers are networked via fibre optic cable across the campus; there are wireless routers in all of the houses and in academic departments where required. The school runs its own internet servers via gigabit internet links.

Computing classrooms are equipped with a range of additional hardware to support teaching. Standard software suites include Microsoft Office Professional, Corel Graphics and a wide range of specialist programs.

IT services are maintained by three full-time technicians.