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 skill 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.  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.  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 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, reliability and validity.
  • Multimedia authoring and electronic publishing
  • Computer programming:
    • Multimedia Fusion – 2D games production.
    • Kodu – 3D games production
    • Lego Mindstorms
    • 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 practical investigation – worth 30% of the final grade and is generally based on the differences in high/low-level programming languages.
    • An Exam-Board set software development project – worth 30% 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

AS/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.

The AS course consists of one examined unit and two coursework units

  • G040 – How Organisations use ICT – Internally assessed and externally moderated coursework.
  • G041 – Using ICT to communicate – External Examination
  • G042 – ICT solutions for Individuals and Society– Internally assessed and externally moderated coursework.

Should students continue onto the A2 the course consists of three coursework units which are internally assessed and externally moderated.

  • 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 seven of the revolutionary computers to teach coding/programming using Python.

Finally, students of all ages are welcome to join the Video Games Design Club.  This club looks at all aspects of the design process and will discuss sprite design, gameplay and platform delivery. Eventually, the designs from the teams will be considered for entry into the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition. (http://ygd.bafta.org/)

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