ICT / Computing

Computer Science at Birkdale is a fun but challenging subject that aims to turn students from computer users and content consumers into computer programmers and content creators. The subject also incorporates aspects of ICT such as digital literacy and communication via the technology that forms a staple part of our everyday lives. Students are given the opportunity to develop a number of key skills:

  • To become confident users of pervasive computing technology such as networked computers, the Internet and mobile technology
  • To identify ways in which computers can improve efficiency or quality and accuracy of presentation and develop the skills required to create these improvements
  • To develop computational thinking skills and familiarity with the programming languages used to make coded solutions
  • To gain content creation and design skills that support the delivery of attractive and user-friendly products such as web sites, apps and games

We believe that we provide excellence in teaching and sympathetic support to all our students and staff. An increasing number of students from other schools join us in the 6th Form to study the popular and successful A Level Computing course. Our students do very well in the annual UK Bebras Challenge with many being invited to enter the more rigorous TCS Oxford Computing Challenge as a result. We have long-standing expertise in several computer programming-related areas and boys are introduced to advanced coding concepts such as Object-Oriented Programming and interactive JavaScript web pages at an early stage.

Students have excellent opportunities to leave Birkdale with relevant Computing qualifications. At the end of S5 we offer the highly-regarded Cambridge IGCSE in Computer Science and at A Level we are studying the new OCR Computer Science syllabus introduced in 2017. Those who study Computing at A level often go on to study related subjects at University. Recent leavers have gone on to study Computer Science, Business Studies, Electronics & Software Engineering, and Mathematics.

At lunchtime the department is a magnet for students who want to extend their studies or develop new skills. Code Club caters for those who prefer computational thinking challenges such as calculating Pi to millions of places or breaking the Nazi Enigma codes. Other extra-curricular activities available include Game Making Club using industry-standard systems such as C# and Unity or building and coding small robots. Clubs run in addition to iGCSE Computing and A level Computing Clinics where students are supported in their exam and coursework preparation.

In S3 (Year 9) students can choose to study a one-year Computing option. This course is taught as a series of modules with emphasis on producing working, usable outputs and applications:

  • Mobile Phone App Development – with a focus on user interface design and the testing process. This course uses a ‘blocky’ programming language to generate apps
  • Vector Graphics Design – with a focus on decomposition of complex tasks and optimising non-verbal design concepts
  • Introduction to Python Programming – learning the basics of text-based programming
  • Game Design – with emphasis on game planning and step-wise refinement to build a sprite-based game loop in Python
  • Virtual Reality Development – students use the Unity game engine to code and test a VR experience of their own design – typically a game or a virtual environment walkthrough

This is a popular option that allows students to experience different aspects of the creative processes that go into making the apps and games they make use of on a daily basis.

Connect with us