Over the last few years the curriculum has moved away from the old ICT focus of how we use computers, to instead focus on how computers work and the process of computing – Computer Science.

At Key Stage 3 we follow the Compute-IT curriculum endorsed by Computing At School.

The focus of the new programme of study moves towards programming and other aspects of computer science. Programming had been part of the ICT national curriculum for some time but has frequently been overlooked or treated superficially. However, there is more to computer science than programming.

Computer science incorporates techniques and methods for solving problems and advancing knowledge, and includes a distinct way of thinking and working that sets it apart from other disciplines. The role of programming in computer science is similar to that of practical work in other sciences – it provides motivation and a context within which ideas are brought to life.

Computational thinking is core to the programme of study. It is the process of recognising aspects of computation in the world that surrounds us, and applying tools and techniques from computing to understand and reason about both natural and artificial systems and processes. Computational thinking provides a powerful framework for studying computing, with wide application beyond computing itself. It allows students to tackle problems, to break them down into solvable chunks and to devise algorithms to solve them.

At Key Stage 4 we offer the OCR GCSE in Computer Science (J276).

Content overview                                                                

Component 01: Computer systems

Introduces students to the Central Processing Unit (CPU), computer memory and storage, wired and wireless networks, network topologies, system security and system software. It also looks at ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns associated with computer science.

Component 02: Computational thinking, algorithms and programming

Students apply knowledge and understanding gained in component 01. They develop skills and understanding in computational thinking: algorithms, programming techniques, producing robust programs, computational logic, translators and data representation. The skills and knowledge developed within this component will support the learner when completing the Component 03 Programming Project.

Component 03/04: Programming project

Students use OCR assessment tasks to demonstrate their practical ability in the skills developed in components 01 and 02. In a controlled environment they will, define success criteria from a given problem, and then create suitable algorithms to achieve success criteria. Students then code their solutions in a suitable programming language, and check its functionality using a suitable and documented test plan. Students have a total of 20 hours to complete their programming project.

At Key Stage 5 we offer the AQA GCE in Computer Science

Subject content

  1. Fundamentals of programming
  2. Fundamentals of data structures
  3. Fundamentals of algorithms
  4. Theory of computation
  5. Fundamentals of data representation
  6. Fundamentals of computer systems
  7. Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
  8. Consequences of uses of computing
  9. Fundamentals of communication and networking
  10. Fundamentals of databases
  11. Big Data
  12. Fundamentals of functional programming
  13. Systematic approach to problem solving
  14. Non-exam assessment - the computing practical project


Paper 1

What's assessed: this paper tests a student's ability to program, as well as their theoretical knowledge of Computer Science from subject content 10-13 above and the skills required from section 22 above.


·         On-screen exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

·         40% of A-level


Students answer a series of short questions and write/adapt/extend programs in an Electronic Answer Document provided by the exam board.

At the start of the year the exam board issue Preliminary Material, a Skeleton Program and, where appropriate, test data, for use in the exam.

Paper 2

What's assessed: this paper tests a student's ability to answer questions from subject content 14-21 above.


·         Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes

·         40% of A-level


Compulsory short-answer and extended-answer questions.

Non-exam Assessment

What's assessed: 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, as shown in section 22 above.


·         75 marks

·         20% of A-level