Information and Communication Technology

The work of the Computing/ICT Department at Ratcliffe College is intended to encourage the use of technology in a variety of contexts: school, home, community, recreation, business and industry. As a department, we give pupils opportunities to acquire competence, capability and critical skills through the implementation, use and evaluation of a range of software and computational thinking techniques.

Across the year groups we ensure everyone experiences computing from a number of areas – web design, games production and robotic control as well as office-based skills in the use of spread sheet modelling and database use, whilst reinforcing the need to stay safe online.

Academic Programme

Key Stage 2 – Year 6

Our Computing teaching begins in Year 6 where students are exposed to a simple graphical programming language to build their first simple games and control real-world objects.  Students are also introduced to problem solving and modelling with spreadsheets building on their numeracy skills. There is also a creative element to this year as the students have to make a greetings card using Photoshop. Students will also learn about the components that make up a computer and how computers communicate to one another. Throughout the year, there is an emphasis on how to stay safe online.

Key Stage 3 – Years 7 – 9

In Key Stage 3, we aim to ensure students are confident and competent in the following subjects by giving them problems to solve within project work, using the software available:

  • Fundamentals of Computing – hardware, software and networks.
  • Using the Internet: e-safety, plagiarism and netiquette
  • Databases and Spreadsheets including:
    • Manipulating and plotting data
    • Modelling and simulation
    • Writing queries and making reports
  • Graphics – designing and making sprites for computer games
  • Information retrieval – advanced search techniques, information reliability and validity.
  • Multimedia authoring and electronic publishing using Soundation
  • Computer programming:
    • Multimedia Fusion – 2D games production.
    • Robomind
    • Python
  • Website creation:
    • HTML
    • Wix.com – HTML5 and Flash

Key Stage 4 (GCSE)

In Key Stage 4, we offer students a choice of Computing or ICT at GCSE:

  • Computing – OCR Computing gives students a real, in-depth understanding of how computer technology works and will further develop their critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills.  The course consists of:
    • A theory examination – worth 40% of the final grade, and is based on computer hardware, architecture, software, networks and binary.
    • An Exam-Board set algorithm investigation – worth 40% of the final grade and is based on solving algorithm problems under controlled examination conditions.
    • An Exam-Board set software development project – worth 20% of the final grade. Students are given the opportunity to develop software solutions (using Python) to set scenarios.
  • ICT – Edexcel GCSE ICT is a challenging course with real world significance. The course consists of:
    • An Exam-Board set controlled assignment, worth 60% of the final grade, which tests how a student uses available software to solve a variety of problems;
    • A theory examination, worth 40%, which is based on current technology, networks and uses of IT

From September 2017, we will be offering the Cambridge iGCSE in Information and Communication Technology (0417).  This new course will focus on the following:

  1. Types and components of computer systems
  2. Input and output devices
  3. Storage devices and media
  4. Networks and the effects of using them
  5. The effects of using IT
  6. ICT applications
  7. The systems life cycle
  8. Safety and security
  9. Audience
  10. Communication
  11. File management
  12. Images
  13. Layout, Styles and proofing in publishing
  14. Graphs and charts
  15. Document production
  16. Data manipulation
  17. Presentations
  18. Data analysis
  19. Website authoring

All candidates take three papers with the assessment for this award is broken down as the table below:

Paper 1               2 hours Paper 2                  2 hours 30 minutes Paper 3              2 hours 30 minutes
Theory 

40%                 100 marks

Document Production, Data Manipulation and Presentations.30%                                          80 marks Data Analysis and Website Authoring 

30%                                       80 marks

Questions will be based on sections 1–21 of the subject content. All questions are compulsory. Externally assessed This test assesses the practical skills needed to use the applications covered in sections 17, 18 and 19 of the subject content Candidates use knowledge-based practical skills from sections 1–16 All tasks are compulsory. Externally assessed This test assesses the practical skills needed to use the applications covered in sections 20 and 21 of the subject content Candidates use knowledge-based practical skills from sections 1–16 All tasks are compulsory. Externally assessed

AS

Starting in 2017, students in Year 12 will study the Cambridge International A level in Information Technology. Students following this course will study the following topics at AS level:

  1. Data, information, knowledge and processing
  2. Hardware and software
  3. Monitoring and control
  4. E-safety and health and safety
  5. The digital divide
  6. Using networks
  7. Expert systems
  8. Spreadsheets
  9. Database and file concepts
  10. Sound and video editing

Should students continue into Year 13, the A level topics are as follows:

  1. Emerging technologies
  2. Role and impact of IT in society
  3. Networks
  4. Project management
  5. System life cycle
  6. Graphics creation
  7. Animation
  8. Mail merge
  9. Programming for the web

The assessment for this award is broken down as the table below:

Component

AS

A2

Paper 1 Theory 1 hour 45 minutes
This written paper tests sections 1–10 of the syllabus content.
Candidates answer each question in the spaces provided on the question paper.
All questions are compulsory.
90 marks

50%

25%

Paper 2 Practical 2 hours 30 minutes
This paper tests sections 8–10 of the syllabus content.
Candidates will also need to use their previous knowledge from sections 1–7.
All tasks are compulsory.
Candidates must use the most appropriate software and the most appropriate methods.
110 marks

50%

25%

Paper 3 Advanced Theory 1 hour 45 minutes
This written paper tests sections 11–19 of the syllabus content.
The content of sections 1–10 is assumed knowledge.
Candidates answer each question in the spaces provided on the question paper.
All questions are compulsory.
90 marks

-

25%

Paper 4 Advanced Practical 2 hours 30 minutes
This paper tests sections 16–19 of the syllabus content, and sections 8–9 of the syllabus content within a problem-solving context.
Candidates will also need to use their previous knowledge from all sections of the syllabus.
All tasks are compulsory.
Candidates must use the most appropriate software and the most appropriate methods.
110 marks

-

25%

A Level ICT

In the sixth form, the OCR Applied ICT course is currently being delivered.  This course is modular consisting of both AS and A2 modules. The course aims to develop a broad range of skills and knowledge as a basis for progression into further learning.  In general, the Applied A level aims to:

  • Create knowledge and understanding of information systems within a range of organisations.
  • Build an understanding of the main principles of solving problems using ICT.
  • Develop project management skills and an understanding of the need to work with others.

In year 13, students will study the following units:

  • G048 – Working to a brief is an Examination Board set mandatory assignment.

Students are then able to choose two from the following three options:

  • G051 – Publishing
  • G052 – Artwork and Imaging
  • G053 – Website Design

Structure and Facilities

Structure

Whilst Computing is a subject in its own right, we also endeavour to support other departments in their use of ICT at all levels – aiming to encourage and develop a truly cross-curricular model for the use of ICT throughout the school.

All ICT classes are taught in mixed ability groups.

Facilities

We are fortunate to have dedicated ICT suites and several clusters of computers, including Macs, in departments around the College. All computers are connected to a fast school-wide network, both wired and wireless, with access to the Internet via a high-speed broadband link.

Software used in the department ranges from standard Microsoft software to Adobe’s Design Suite (Photoshop and InDesign), Scratch, Python, Kodu and Multimedia Fusion 2.

Pathways

Most of us are unaware of how much ICT and computing impacts on our lives – the majority of jobs and careers require some IT skills. There are a wide number of careers which are specifically for Computing/ICT – technicians to software developers and programmers but in the areas of TV, film and the creative arts, IT is also used to good effect. And don’t forget the impact software developers have in the areas of finance and banking, emerging technologies and engineering. Choosing a qualification in IT will only ever open up doors to you.

Extra Curricular Activities

In Years 7, 8 and 9 students can join the Lego Club, using the Lego Mindstorms (NXT and EV3) system to design, build and programme Lego Robots.  From this club a team of dedicated programmers will be entered into the First Lego Robotics League competition (http://www.firstlegoleague.org/).

Students in these age groups also have the ability to join the Raspberry Pi club.  This club uses several of the revolutionary computers to teach coding/programming using Python, as well as controlling robots.

Finally, students of all ages are welcome to participate in code-breaking challenges.  This club looks at all aspects of cyphers and cyber security and students have the opportunity to take part in a country-wide challenge.

Staff

Mr Michael Jones, Head of Department - MIJones@ratcliffe.leics.sch.uk
Mrs Lesley Arnold - LArnold@ratcliffe.leics.sch.uk
Mr Paul Grewcock, Network Manager - PGrewcock@leics.sch.uk
Mr James Clark, ICT Technician - JClarke@leics.sch.uk
Mr Will Robinson, ICT Technician - WRobinson@ratcliffe.leics.sch.uk