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The school curriculum for computing has changed in recent years, with a greater focus now on the science of computing rather than on the applications. Computer Science is concerned with how computers and computer systems work, and how they are designed and programmed. IT (Infomation Technology) or ICT (Infomation and Communication Technology) deal with applying computer systems to solve real-world problems such as finding things out, exchanging and sharing information, and reviewing, modifying and evaluating work.
Digital culture and digital literacy have changed the way that people live, work, learn and play. Growing up in an IT-rich environment means that children need to have opportunities to experience and develop IT skills that will help them make the most of their adult life. IT is incorporated into practically every lesson at school, from the Primary Key Stages onwards; from interactive whiteboards and virtual learning environments, to educational computer games and cloud based technologies such as the internet, email and e-learning platforms. In the early years, the emphasis is on getting children familiar with the technology and in using the software for isolated tasks. Later, pupils will be taught how to use various programs for a particular task and may present their findings from an investigation. At higher levels, pupils should be able to design systems for others to use and to critically evaluate these systems.
The GCSE Computer Science course is a very demanding and academic course, focusing on the founding principles and practices of computation and in the design and development of computer systems. At GCSE level, students are introduced to the Central Processing Unit (CPU), computer memory and storage, wired and wireless networks, network topologies, system security, system software, computational thinking, algorithms and programming. At A-Level, the course is divided into two complementary parts: theory and programming. On the theory side, students study the internal workings of a computer, right down the basics of how data is stored along with other aspects of computer architecture. On the programming side, students learn a programming language (usually chosen by the school) from C#, Java, Pascal/Delphi, Python and Visual Basic.NET. The A-Level is assessed with two exam papers (each 40%), plus a practical project (20%) which will typically be done over a period of 3 months.