Computing and ICT

Just about everything we do in our daily lives requires computer technology. Learning how to code solutions to problems is about creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. Computer Science is about humanity; working together to build a better world.

Head of Department: Mrs Siobhan McClure

Computing is a compulsory part of the curriculum for girls in the Remove (Year 7) to Upper Fourth (Year 9). Thereafter, it is offered as an optional GCSE qualification in Computer Science.

Resources

We have a purpose-built computing laboratory with 18 dedicated PCs, some with dual monitor setup, plus additional desks for girls to use their Surface devices, when required. We also have a wonderful Nao Robot, named Olive, to bring computing to life, as well as class sets of Raspberry Pis, Lego Mindstorms and BBC Micro:bits to enhance practical learning.

The Lower School Curriculum

In the Remove (Year 7), pupils have their first introduction to digital learning and are taught about respecting their ICT equipment. They will explore their Surface devices and learn many vital transferable ICT skills such as file management, online etiquette and how to create a secure password. Girls are introduced to basic programming concepts by using Scratch, a block-based coding application. Through a range of fun and engaging activities, girls use Scratch to learn about Sequence, Selection and Iteration. Girls will also complete a unit on computer networks and will be able to describe the advantages and disadvantages of wired and wireless networks, as well as identifying key network hardware. There is an annual Hour of Code event for all Remove girls, during which they will experience first-hand physical programming using BBC micro:bit devices.

In the Lower Fourth (Year 8), pupils build on the programming skills learnt in the Remove by completing an advanced Scratch programming project, based on the work of Ada Lovelace (female pioneering mathematician, attributed to writing the first ever computer program). After which, the girls’ programming journey is extended with the introduction of a text-based programming language, Python. The girls’ programming skills are brought to life in the robotics unit, using the “EV3 classroom suite” to program Lego Mindstorms.

 

The Upper School Curriculum

In the Upper Fourth (Year 9), theoretical and practical skills are formalised to help prepare girls for the GCSE Computer Science qualification. Key topics include:

  • Understanding algorithms and interpreting flow-charts.
  • Python programming (including the Turtle drawing library).
  • Data representation: how computers handle data and instructions using the binary and hexadecimal number systems.
  • Understanding key terms for computer storage (bits, bytes, kilobytes etc) and how to determine memory capacity and calculate download speeds.

Upper Fourth girls are introduced to the iDEA award (see enrichment section below) and are encouraged to work towards completing a formal digital qualification to equip them for their future and to help them stand out from the crowd!

Lower Fifth & Upper Fifth (Year 10 & 11)

Year on year, the numbers of girls opting for GCSE Computer Science is growing, in line with the girls’ desire to develop the computational skills that are required for an exciting digital future. We have chosen to follow the new Pearson Edexcel specification, which is up-to-date and reflects the fast changing world of Computer Science. It is an exciting course with a practical focus on real-life programming enabling girls to develop future-proof skills.

Enrichment

Bebras

Each November, girls in Remove through to Upper Fourth have the opportunity to participate in Bebras (an international computational thinking challenge). We often have girls who progress to the Oxford University Computing Challenge, which takes places the following Spring.

Safer Internet Day

Each February we participate in Safer Internet Day, all girls in the Remove through to Upper Fourth are encouraged to participate in activities that enable them to explore their own and others’ online behaviour, as we all strive to create an Internet we trust.

Hour of Code

Computers are everywhere! So, we host an annual Hour of Code event for Remove, to get them excited about programming and empower them to create whatever they want!

“The programmers of today are the wizards of the future” (Gabe Logan Newell, American computer programmer and businessman)

iDEA Award

In the Upper Fourth, girls are introduced to iDEA (The Inspiring Digital Enterprise Award), an international programme that helps them to develop digital, enterprise and employability skills. We encourage girls to work towards achieving their Bronze Award (250 points) an industry-recognised digital award. Many girls even go on to achieve the Silver Award.

Coding & Robotics Clubs (CCA)

To make the most of our fantastic resources, in conjunction with the Co-Curriculum Activity department, we host a weekly Coding & Robotics club where like-minded girls from all year groups are invited to come together and work collaboratively on an exciting range of problem-solving activities. The aim of the club is to provide an opportunity to explore and extend areas of computing and robotics, beyond the classroom syllabus.

 

Tours & Open Mornings

The best way to find out more about Downe House is to experience it for yourself. Book a personal tour or join us at one of our Open Mornings, available throughout the year.

Discover

Listen to the latest Downe House Podcast Here