Head of Computing

Mr T StroudPGCE, QTS, BSc (Hons), RCE

Computational thinking is “…the thought processes involved in formulating problems and their solutions so that the solutions are represented in a form that can be effectively carried out by an information-processing agent. These solutions can be carried out by any processing agent, whether human, computer, or a combination of both”

Wing, 2011

 

Subject aims

  • To challenge pupils and encourage them to think for themselves in order to solve problems and work through solutions
  • To expose pupils to as broad a range of software and programs as possible
  • To engage and motivate pupils in lessons and encourage their active participation
  • To ensure a natural transition as pupils move up the year groups and beyond
  • To provide enrichment opportunities in the field of computing
  • To reflect current trends in education as outlined by the National Curriculum and leading Computer Science organisations
  • To encourage each pupil to embrace computer science as a rigorous academic subject
  • To increase the IT & Computing capability of each pupil
  • To educate pupils how to stay safe online and how to seek assistance if they encounter an uncomfortable digital experience

Overview

Computing is the study of how computers and computer systems work and how they are constructed and programmed. Its primary aspects of theory, systems and applications are drawn from the disciplines of Technology, Design, Engineering, Mathematics, Physical Sciences and Social Sciences.

At Cranleigh Prep School we aim to provide a broad and varied curriculum that allows pupils to learn about the key principles of computing which will prepare them for further study in this field as they move up through senior school and into further education and employment. We aim to achieve this in a supportive and caring environment through the delivery of fun and enjoyable lessons which aim to encourage pupils to think for themselves and improve as problem solvers.

The Computing curriculum is divided into three core areas:

  • IT skills eg. Microsoft Office, Google Education Apps, iPad skills
  • Computer Science eg. computational thinking, programming skills and machine learning & AI
  • Digital Literacy eg. online safety, awareness of modern technology, consideration of digital footprints, being a good digital citizen)

 

Lower School (Forms 1 & 2)

Pupils are issued with a personal username and quickly master the skills to successfully log on to the school network with a secure password. They learn about cyber-security and the importance of keeping their school account details private. E-Safety is referred to throughout lessons and the pupils are introduced to a range of fictional characters that help the pupils to fully consider their online choices as well as future consequences that may occur.

PC skills are a big focus at this stage of school and children confidently learn how to navigate to specific folders and how to save and retrieve work from both ‘shared’ and ‘personal’ network locations. Word processing and presentation skills are developed so that pupils can work both independently and in small groups to creatively produce quality pieces of work. They are shown a wide range of editing tools and taught the importance to critically review and enhance the layout of digital work before getting to their final version.

To keep a record of their learning, pupils are introduced to the concept of a Digital Journal and are given opportunities throughout the year to submit classwork which can take the form of written notes, photos and videos. Computing concepts are taught through the use of object-orientated programming software using Scratch Junior for iPad and Discovery Education.

To challenge the pupils further, they are introduced to the text-based programming language of LOGO and are taught specific commands that then have to be rewritten to solve a wide range of challenges. Touch-typing is seen as a key skill to master, as they progress through their school career and beyond, so a dedicated lesson is timetabled fortnightly to allow pupils to strengthen and develop their speed and accuracy. For pupils, who wish to extend themselves further outside of lessons, additional classwork and extension activities are made available on the school’s VLE (virtual learning environment).

Middle School (Forms 3 & 4)

Length and pace of lessons increase substantially compared to the Lower School and greater opportunities are given to allow for more complex class projects. A greater understanding of networks and file management is undertaken and pupils learn how to take more control with organising and increasing the efficiency of their own digital school space. Advanced presentation skills are taught, and pupils learn how to make effective, dynamic presentations where the user can take control.

The discipline of Computer Science takes a bigger focus and more advanced concepts are taught through a range of class projects. In recent years this has seen a major shift by using physical programming resources; these have included taking control of programmable Lego, BBC Microbits and Raspberry Pis through the languages of MIT Scratch, JavaScript Blocks and Python respectively. Online safety takes a more dominant role and an assortment of activities are used throughout the year to get the pupils to consider their digital footprint and who they can turn to if they ever have an uncomfortable digital experience.

Greater responsibility is given to the pupils with documenting and reflecting on their learning each term; this is achieved by allowing them to work both independently and in small groups with populating their Digital Learning Journal with annotated photos, narrated videos and visual podcasts.

Upper School (Forms 5 & 6)

To prepare pupils for their future senior school and beyond, they are given the responsibility of a school Google Account and access to a selection of key apps including; Google Docs, Slides, Forms, Sites and Classroom. This allows for the introduction of modern and ‘future-ready’ IT skills including learning how to work efficiently, constructively and collaboratively with peers. It also teaches them about their digital footprint and how they need to carefully consider the consequences of their actions.

More advanced Computer Science concepts are taught including Machine Learning & AI and a range of exciting and futuristic practical tasks are undertaken to allow for pupils to see how this technology is rapidly developing.

Opportunities to experiment and explore with code increases and pupils get to use an increasing amount of physical components to create their own prototype product including cameras, LEDs, motors, touch-sensitive capacitors and PIR sensors. Pupils are also taught Apple’s programming of Swift as well as gaining the experience to develop and create real Apps on an Amazon Fire tablet.

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