"Although they are invisible and intangible, software systems are amongst the largest and most complex artefacts ever created by human beings… "
Computing at School Working Group – March 2012
The aim of the Computer Science department at CAST is to develop the knowledge and skills required for our students to play an active role in the digital world that surrounds them. Developing a firm grasp of computing concepts will help them get the best from the systems they use, solve problems when they go wrong and develop new systems when they are required.
Computing in industry is essentially a practical subject which applies theory to design and develop products for clients. With this in mind, we have developed our curriculum to reflect modern business practice. Most learning is delivered through projects, which involve project management, team work, report writing and the use of industry standard tools.
Year 12 and 13 students follow the AQA Computer Science Specification 7517. The aim of the course is to develop students who are able to apply theoretical knowledge to practical tasks, who can design and develop high quality programs, are aware of the contribution they can make to society and understanding how the course material relates to industry practices.
This course material covers:
Fundamentals of programming
Fundamentals of data structures
Fundamentals of algorithms
Theory of computation
Fundamentals of data representation
Fundamentals of computer systems
Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
Consequences of uses of computing
Fundamentals of communication and networking
Fundamentals of databases
Fundamentals of functional programming
Systematic approach to problem solving
Non-exam assessment - the computing practical project
During Year 12 student will work on a series of coding projects that use A Level theory as a starting point. Each project the students encounter has taught lessons that focus on the theory and practical lessons that focus on planning and developing coding techniques needed to be successful.
In September all student are introduced to Visual Basic. Each project if planned using UML diagrams that help the student fully understand the issues before code is written.
Project one introduces students to binary mathematics. Student will be using sub routines, functions, arrays and string manipulation to automate a number of binary maths problems.
In between December and April we move on from Visual Basic and start to learn C#. C# is an Object Orientated Programming language and will be used in the students’ Year 13 final exam.
Projects include investigating a bank and how saving and current accounts work with the focus on instantiation and inheritance. We create programs that encrypt and decrypt files using a simple Caesar Cypher and the uncrackable One-Time pad. Students learn about Alan Turning and his invaluable contribution to the computing world by developing a series of Turning Machines to solve increasingly difficult mathematical problems.
After the Easter break we start preparing students for the summer term exams. This is done by the introduction of the format and revising the material that will be covered in paper 1. Learning to interrogate, adapt and extend code that is written by a third party is essential to success in the paper 1 exam.
Year 12 is concluded by looking at the requirements and structure for the Non-Exam assessment (NEA). Students design a program that uses as many of the coding constructs from Year 12 as possible. They will work through the required sections; analysis, documented design, technical solution, testing and evaluation. This process will prepare them for the actual NEA in Y13.
At the beginning of Year 13 we will cover the remaining programming paradigms’ SQL and Functional with a focus on practical application and answering exam questions.
Between October and February half-term Y13 student’s time will divided between the NEA (three lessons per week) and learning the remaining theory (two classes per week) for the summer exams; the NEA requires 50 hours of lesson time. The topic for the NEA is of the students own devising but must meet a number of criteria to be of A Level standard.
Theory lessons until February half-term will focus on theory for exam paper 2 including; internet security, networking, hardware and software, computer architecture. Student will write essays and practice long exam questions in preparation for the summer exams.
We will start revision for the spring term assessment as soon as the NEA is complete and following that revision for the student’s final exams.
The course is examined via two exams
Paper 1; 2 hour 30 minutes – on a computer – 40% of A Level
Covers material from points 1 - 4
Paper 2; 2 hour 30 minutes – written – 40% of A Level
Covers material from points 5 – 13
Non-exam assessment – 50 class hours – 20% A Level
The non-exam assessment assesses student's ability to use the knowledge and skills gained through the course to solve or investigate a practical problem. Students will be expected to follow a systematic approach to problem solving (section 14).
Minimum entry requirements for A level courses: 7 GCSEs at grade 9-4 (including English grade 4) with double or triple science (grade 6/6) and Maths (grade 5/6 depending on subject choice).
Please see our website for more information - https://cast.education/curriculum/a-level
Students graduating from Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology will be exceptionally well prepared to progress into higher education, work or an apprenticeship, ready to build careers that contribute to the Cambridge success story.
Graduating from Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology will give you a head start when it comes to choosing a university. Employers are seeking specialist science staff in all areas, and a degree will help take your career to the next level.
Our employer partners are highly supportive of apprenticeships, and offer opportunities to our students. Apprentices are paid while they train, attending college one day a week and learning hands-on in the workplace as they gain valuable qualifications. They also offer an alternative route to higher education.
The Cambridge area is full of highly successful employers ready to take on new staff who leave Cambridge Academy for Science and Technology with an impressive range of specialist qualifications – ready to go straight into the workplace and develop their careers.