Computing Head

Miss Watson (BA (Hons) French and Linguistics, Lancaster, Maitrise from the Universite de Pau, Post-Graduate Certificate in Teaching Computing, Chester University)  is the Curriculum Leader for ICT/Computing and has been at Southlands since September 2002. She believes ICT and Computing are relevant and important subjects in our digital world. It’s impossible to keep up with the speed technology moves, but the faculty do their best to equip our students with the skills and knowledge to be good digital citizens!

In complete contrast to teaching in a well-equipped ICT room, Miss Watson has been extremely fortunate to visit The Gambia in West Africa with Southlands students four times so far. She describes it as an amazing experience to witness a totally different country and culture to our own, and to see what a difference Southlands has made to the community there.

Year 7

We start Year 7 with a unit of work on e-safety – we’re all online every day for some reason from shopping to social networking, and although the internet is a great place, there are dangers too! We think it’s essential that you know how to keep yourself safe, and what to do if you think there’s a problem when you’re online.

We’ll learn more about the hardware of a computer system and have a look ‘inside the box’ to find more about the inside of a computer,  as well as an introduction to networks, and a taster of binary, which you might know is all 1s and 0s!

We’ll have a go at computer control using software called Flowol to safely control simulations of computer systems, just like the ones which surround us every day.

We will use Scratch as it’s a great introduction to computer programming and we’ll be using this to learn some computing fundamentals to create animations and simple games.

If you are artistic, you’ll enjoy our animation project where you’ll draw and animate a space scene using industry standard animation software.

To end the year, we’ll spend a few weeks writing in the language of the internet – html – to learn about the code behind web pages, and then go on to produce an “e-me”, a bit like an electronic version of you in the form of a website where you can reflect on your first year at Southlands.

Year 8

Year 8 Computing involves learning a lot more about how the technology around us works, so that you aren’t only using it, you are also understanding it!

We investigate “bits, bytes and binary” to find out how binary is used by computer systems to represent text, images and sounds, as well as carrying out some binary addition. You’ll be surprised to hear that 1 + 1 doesn’t equal 2 in binary!

We’ll learn more about the computer’s processor, memory and storage as well as the software that makes a computer run, you’ll apply your knowledge about this in a quiz for other students.

Since the very first “computers” were created, there have a been a number of “heroes” in the world of Computing whose research, discoveries and inventions have brought us to the point in technology that we can enjoy daily today. We will find out more about these heroes, creating a database and graphics linked to their work.

Building on our work in Scratch in Y7, you’ll develop your programming skills to a higher level, creating a range of projects showing different skills and computational thinking, as well as experiencing a text based programming language to develop your programming knowledge further.

Finally we’ll spend a few weeks writing in the language of the internet – html – to learn about the code behind web pages, and then go on to produce a website about aspects of our digital world like GPS, mobile phone technology and the internet.

Year 9

In Y9, we like to give you an introduction to the sort of work you’ll be doing if you choose ICT or Computing as an option for one of your GCSEs.

They are totally different subjects and it’s important to experience both, so you can make the right choice for your future.

We’ll explore the hardware and software in a computer system in more technical detail, and using your knowledge, you will “build” your own system for a particular user’s requirements. You’ll also learn more about networks and the internet.

You might think Python is a type of snake, but it’s also a really popular programming language and we’ll use this to develop your programming skills to a higher level, and get you thinking like a proper programmer. It’s a challenge as there’s a lot to learn, but programming is essential for Computing GCSE as well as a skill that is much in demand in the workplace at the moment.

Our ICT projects will ensure you have the software skills to cope with both ICT GCSE and other subjects where you’ll need to use ICT. We’ll cover the knowledge and skills you’ll need to be a safe, responsible and respectful user of ICT in the 21st century.

You’ll develop a spreadsheet to investigate the cost of running a school ski trip and create a database to record the details of everyone who will be going, as well as producing informative documents for the trip.

Your creative skills will be used to design a logo, video, advert and website for a music festival being held in the local area, showing off your digital design talents.

Year 10

If you’ve chosen to study GCSE Computing, then you’re definitely someone who likes a challenge and has a genuine interest in computers, technology and how they work, as well as computer programming. In Y10, we will spend the year learning to program in Python and covering the theory topics which will be tested by exam in Y11.

Your programming skills in Python will be essential in Y11 when you will complete the exam board set controlled conditions assessment. We will develop your talents in a full range of programming techniques to equip you for the coursework, as well as learning how to approach a programming problem by analysing requirements, planning, testing, and evaluating your work. These programming lessons will give you the opportunity to show off your practical programming skills to a high level, but also test your attention to detail and your perseverance when things don’t go well first time!

As well as the practical programming skills, you will also need a good understanding of the theory behind programming concepts such as Computational Logic and thinking, and Algorithms.

In this new specification of the Computer Science GCSE, there are some challenging and technical theory topics on the syllabus, some of which have come from the AS Level Computer Science. You will learn about systems architecture including the CPU, memory, systems software, storage wired & wireless networks, data representation and network topologies, protocols & layers.

Year 11

In Y11, we will cover the Computer Science theory that will be tested in the GCSE exam at the end of the year. We are currently in the final year of the “legacy” (old) GCSE course, so the current Y10 will cover different work when they reach Y11.

This gives you an in-depth understanding of how computer technology works and how Computer Science impacts on the very latest technological innovations.

This unit will introduce you to a wide range of topics in computing theory and offers an insight into what goes on ‘behind the scenes’ of the technological world in which we all live.

Topics covered include: fundamentals of computer systems, the impact of computer technology in society, current and emerging (new) technologies, hardware and software, use of binary to represent data such as text, images, and sound, databases, networks, the internet, and programming theory.

There’s a huge demand from employers and Universities who want students who really understand the science and technology in our digital world, and there are loads of exciting job opportunities available for people who have Computing skills – jobs that haven’t even been invented yet!