KS4 Computer Science
The most important aspect of computer science is problem-solving, an essential skill for life. Students study the design, development and analysis of software as well as the hardware used to solve problems in a variety of business, scientific and social contexts. Because computers solve problems to serve people, there is a significant human side to computer science as well.
The GCSE for Computer Science has recently been revised and has been first taught from September 2020. The course was adapted in consultation with both teachers and industry experts. The result is billed as “an engaging qualification that equips students with the knowledge and practical skills to thrive in the fast-changing world of Computer Science”.
What is the exam board and specification?
We have not made a final decision about the exam board we will use for Computing and probably won’t until we have a good understanding of the cohort taking it, and how the new specifications (first taught from Sept 2020 in schools) compare for each exam board. Our aim will be to pick the exam board the cohort will be most successful with.
Some options are listed below with links to their specifications:
What will you study?
The course comprises of two key components and practical programming:
Component 01: Computer systems – Introduces students to the central processing unit (CPU), computer memory and storage, data representation, wired and wireless networks, network topologies, system security and system software. It also looks at ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns associated with computer science.
Component 02: Computational thinking, algorithms and programming – Students apply knowledge and understanding gained in component 01. They develop skills and understanding in computational thinking: algorithms, programming techniques, producing robust programs, computational logic and translators.
Practical programming – Students are to be given the opportunity to undertake a programming task(s) during their course of study which allows them to develop their skills to design, write, test and refine programs using a high-level programming language. Students will be assessed on these skills during the written examinations.
How will you be assessed?
There are two exams, both sat at the end of the course, each is focused on one of the components (see above), is worth 80 marks and accounts for 50% of your final grade. How much of these papers are handwritten versus completed online varies slightly depending on the exam board, and this will factor in our decision as to which we go with, based on the cohort.
What qualities do I need to be successful in the subject?
- You need to enjoy solving problems and taking on new challenges.
- You need to have some logical & computational thinking skills (like those used in the Bebras challenge).
- And you need to have an interest in coding (think about how you found the Hour of Code or the Python module we did in Computing last year).
If you have enjoyed computing to date at KWS, then you are likely to enjoy this course and therefore be successful at it.
What future opportunities can I have with this subject?
The course is suitable for students who wish to go on to study computer science further but also those who have no intention of pursuing computing beyond GCSE, as you can apply what you learn to other science or arts subjects.
Those who wish to study Computer Science further can do so as an A-Level, through many college courses and then continue on to access many Computer Science University Degrees. Many high profile companies are crying out for high-quality computer science graduates – the world could truly be your oyster if you are keen to pursue a career in Computing and become successful at it.
Who should I contact for further information?
Mrs Coomber: email@example.com