ICT and Computer Science Department at Rivers Academy
Curriculum Team Leader: Mr J Arda
The ICT and Computer Science Department
The ICT and Computer Science team is fully committed to developing students into independent, critical learners, who use new technologies to their fullest advantage. The department has three main teachers and is part of the Science and Technology School.
We live in an information rich society. With such a wealth, students should question and reflect on the quality of information they might see on a website, receive in an email, view on a tablet or on their phone. The massive growth of technology continues to change the way we live and work.
Students are able to access study materials with more flexibility than ever to suit their needs. ICT underpins and supports learning across Rivers Academy and we want pupils to make the best use of e-learning through quality teaching and committed support delivered by our team.
Beyond the school day, through using virtual learning environments and various subject-linked websites, these opportunities continue to be available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.
The ICT Suite
ICT is mainly taught in three fully equipped ICT suites each with 30 computers. There is an excellent range of software for students and staff to use including up-to-date versions of Microsoft Office and the complete Adobe suite, including Photoshop, Dreamweaver and Flash. Student work can be monitored remotely using specialist software to ensure progress and safe usage.
Key Stage 3
ICT and Computer Science are taught as a discrete subject at Key Stage 3. It is one part of a carousel of four subjects within the Technology School that are covered throughout the academic year.
In Year 7, students learn about concepts ranging from e-safety to developing a cyberbullying quiz using Scratch software. Computing is an integral part of what is being taught and so learned are introduced to problem-solving scenarios using techniques such as flowcharts and developing ways of learning for themselves using YouTube videos. Assessment takes place regularly with the development of the program in Scratch and the homework that is completed.
In Year 8, learners will be creating a simple computer game using GameMaker software. Through understanding how events are managed and programmed in the software, students will develop their knowledge of making a retro-style game.
Students at this stage plan, develop, implement and test their programs and therefore acquire ICT and computing concepts. Although the majority of the course is practical, there are also theoretical aspects that enable the students to understand why we use ICT at school, home and in the workplace. Our aim is to enable students to thrive in a rapidly changing world.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage 4, students follow the BCS ECDL Certificate in IT Applications or AQA GCSE Computer Science courses.
The aims of the courses are to develop students' knowledge and understanding of the ICT or computing sectors in different contexts. These are directly relevant to employment situations using industry standard software to a proficient standard.
The difference between ICT and computer science can be compared to the way of operating a car. For example, cars can be driven without any technical knowledge of how to change the parts or to carry out repairs. ICT is a lot like driving the car, while computer science is akin to the role of a mechanic. Therefore, ICT students learn about the use of MS Office applications in the ECDL or in computer science they find out about programming and how computers work.
With Computer Science, the AQA examination board is followed with two controlled assessments (60%) based on traditional programming using Python and a gaming scenario using GameMaker. There is also a written paper (40%). Due to its difficulty, students who are likely to achieve at least B grades in Maths and English study the course.
Key Stage 5
Sixth formers study the Level 3 BTEC Nationals in IT course. It consists of developing a range of vocational skills including mandatory units about communication methods and how computer systems work. Four further optional units are completed in Year 12 with other areas such as: the installation and updating of software, digital imaging, human computer interaction and e-commerce.
Year 13 involves the continuation of the course with another six units to produce a BTEC Diploma qualification which can include 3D modelling using Maya software, making an app with GameMaker, spreadsheet skills and theoretical aspects such as examining information systems.