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Computer Science


Computer Science is the study of how computers and computer systems work and how they are constructed and programmed.

From the first Babbage computer, programming has relied on coding languages. Today, apps on a smartphone, games and websites all have to be written and coded by skilled programmers.

Computers appear to be advanced, yet they can only understand two orders: on and off. In fact, a computer is really just a collection of on/off switches so everything a computer does is a unique combination of on and off.

Forward thinking teachers in the 1970s taught students how to use punch cards to program. Students learnt that a binary code of zero (0) and one (1) was all that is needed. The binary code is grouped into bytes, groups of 8 digits like 11101001. Modern computers contain billions of bytes, which amounts to an unimaginably large number of combinations.

Thousands of programming languages have replaced the binary code, making it easy for people to write, read and understand the process. Each language comes with a special program that translates what we write into binary code.

There are many different languages each is designed to be used for a different purpose: some are for web development, others for writing desktop software, still others for solving scientific and numeric problems, and so on.

The subject, computer science, is about how to write programs as well as understanding how to use the vast array of programs already available on the internet.


Great Marlow School, in line with recommendations from the government, has a syllabus that offers a high-quality computer science education. Computer science has links with mathematics, science, and design and technology. Students in GMS are taught the principles of information and computation, how digital systems work, and how to use this knowledge to program. Students will be prepared for work in the workplace of the digital age.

Some believe teaching ICT is the equivalent of teaching someone how to drive and navigate a car. In the same way, every student should possess basic ICT skills, and know how to use them.

Computer science is the equivalent of teaching automotive engineering: how the clutch works, how to design new cars, and how to maintain existing ones.

There are three dedicated computer science rooms, each equipped with 30 computers. All computers have up-to-date versions of software installed, an interactive whiteboard, printer and scanner. For use in lessons, there are sound recorders, video recorders and still cameras.


The Wider Curriculum allows students to take a further interest in their subjects and subject related material they study at school. The Wider Curriculum also enables parents and carers to actively engage with the opportunities offered by each department. Each PDF is hyperlinked, so when you click on them, the links will take you to areas where you may read, view, listen, visit and be creative.





U1 – Using Computers

This unit teaches students how to use a computer. This may seem strange, but many students, on entry to GMS, have been more used to using tablets or other mobile devices at home and in primary school.

U2 – Using Microsoft Office

This unit covers the basics of using Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint and provides skills that are transferable across all subjects.

U3 – Computational Thinking

Students are taught the concepts of logical thinking, exploring abstraction, pattern matching and decomposition. They are also taught how to use and create flowcharts, as well as how to write pseudocode.

U4 – Logicator

Logicator is a way to learn about flow charts and how they are used in control systems. The content learned in this unit does help with everyday life, as it teaches students how to think logically.

U5 – Visual Programming in Build Your Own Blocks (BYOB)

BYOB means Build Your Own Blocks. It is an educational piece of software whereby students are helped to learn basic notions of computer programming using blocks as rules and conditions. It enables them to become competent in programming.

U6 – Build Your Own Blocks (BYOB) Gaming 

Students use the skills gained in the previous unit to design and make their own computer game. This is tested and subjected to reviews by their peers.


U1 – Understanding Computers

At the beginning of Year 8, students look at how computers work – with a focus on internal hardware. Students are introduced the concept of the binary number system.

U2 – Ethical, Legal and Environmental Issues

Computer science has a massive impact on society. In this unit, the impact that computer science has had on the environment is explored, both legal issues and ethical issues that surround advances in technology are discussed.

U3 – Build Your Own Blocks (BYOB)

Following on from their work in Year 7, students learn some of the more advanced concepts of programming including the use of lists.

U4 – Binary Representation

The basics of the binary number system are reintroduced. Central to this unit is understanding how computers interpret text, sound and images: after all, computers can only understand 1s and 0s!

U5 – Mobile Apps

Students work in small groups to come up with an idea for a mobile app that can be designed and marketed to a specific target audience.

U6 – App Development using Appshed

This unit gives students the opportunity to develop their own real life app! Students with android devices can even download their new app onto their phone or tablet!


U1 – Python

Students are given their first taste of “proper programming” using the text based language of Python. The core programming concepts taught using BYOB helps students make the link.

U2 – Modelling with Spreadsheets

Students are working for The Next Big Thing (TNBT) – an American talent show coming to the UK. Using previous data, students use spreadsheet modelling techniques in order to predict figures for the UK show.

U3 – Online Safety

In this important unit, students are taught about essential issues surrounding online safety. We cover cyber-bullying, online grooming, sexting and the issues surrounding selfies.

U4 – Back to the Future

In this unit, students are introduced to some of the pioneers of computer science and the impact they have had in this field and indeed everyday life. In particular the lives of Alan Turing, Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Charles Babbage. The vital role of women in computer science is important.

U5 – HyperText Markup Language (HTML) Internet Project

This is an opportunity for students to conduct a research project into the history of the internet. They will present their findings as a website, for this, they are taught how to use HTML.


This course gives students a real, in-depth understanding of how computer technology works. Students will, no doubt, be familiar with the use of computers and other related technology from their other subjects and elsewhere. However, this course will give them an insight into what goes on ‘behind the scenes’, including computer programming, which many students find absorbing.

The course provides excellent preparation for higher study and employment in the field of computer science. The increasing importance of computer science means there will be a growing demand for professionals who are qualified in this area. Students who take a GCSE in Computer Science and progress to study the subject at A-level or university will have a clear advantage over their colleagues who have had no input.

The course does develop critical thinking, analysis and problem-solving skills through the study of computer programming, which gives students a fun and interesting way to develop skills that can be transferred to other subjects and even applied in day-to-day life. In this respect, the course provides excellent preparation for those who want to study or work in areas that rely on these skills, especially where they are applied to technical problems.

Subject content

  • Fundamentals of algorithms
  • Programming
  • Fundamentals of data representation
  • Computer systems
  • Fundamentals of computer networks
  • Fundamentals of cyber security
  • Ethical, legal and environmental impacts of digital technology on wider society, including issues of privacy
  • Databases and SQL


Two written papers (50% each)


Good use of Information Technology is an essential part of a successful business. It enables creative and collaborative working, solving of problems and use of the best techniques and technologies to communicate meaningful information which meets customers’ needs.

This qualification will raise student confidence in using IT and plug potential gaps in digital skills and knowledge not covered by studying computing.

This qualification has been developed with support from teachers, employers (such as Siemens and Fujitsu), and IT specialists to make sure that students will gain the right combination of knowledge, understanding and skills required for the future.

This qualification is equivalent to a GCSE.

R012: Understanding tools, techniques, methods and processes for technological solutions

Students develop their knowledge and understanding of different hardware and software applications and the tools and techniques used to select, store, manipulate and present data. They also explore the various risks associated with the collection, storage and use of data, including legal, moral, ethical and security issues, and how such risks can be mitigated.


One written paper – 1hr 45 minutes

R012: Understanding tools, techniques, methods and processes for technological solutions

Students develop their knowledge and understanding of different hardware and software applications and the tools and techniques used to select, store, manipulate and present data. They also explore the various risks associated with the collection, storage and use of data, including legal, moral, ethical and security issues, and how such risks can be mitigated.


One written paper – 1hr 45 minutes


This A-level Computer Science qualification helps students understand the core academic principles of computer science. Classroom learning is transferred into creating real-world systems through the creation of an independent programming project. This A-level will develop the student’s technical understanding and their ability to analyse and solve problems using computational thinking.


There are two exam papers and one non-exam assessment (NEA). Both exam papers are taken at the end of Year 13. The non-exam assessment will be also be submitted at this time.

Paper 1 – Computer Systems – 40% The internal workings of the central processing unit (CPU), data exchange, software development, data types and legal and ethical issues.

Paper 2 – Algorithms and Programming – 40%

Using computational thinking to solve problems.

Non-Exam Assessment – 20%

Students will be expected to analyse a problem, and design, develop and test, and evaluate and document a program. The program designed to solve the problem must be written in a suitable programming language.


There are two exam papers and one non-exam assessment (NEA). Both exam papers are sat at the end of Year 13. The non-exam assessment will be also be submitted at this time.

Paper 1 Knowledge and understanding of the central processing unit, data exchange, software development, data types, legal and ethical issues. 40%
Paper 2 Computational thinking is required to program and solve problems using algorithms. 40%
Non-Exam Assessment The non-exam assessment assesses student’s ability to analyse a problem, design, develop, test evaluate and document a program. 20%

The Non-Exam Assessment (20%)

Selecting a project

The NEA project will take a significant amount of time to complete and contributes 20% of the marks to the final A-level grade.

It is important that a student selects an appropriate subject for the project that:

  • can maintain their interest over a long time period
  • is suitably challenging and will enable them to fulfil their learning potential
  • will enable them to access the full mark range
  • can be supported and assessed by the teacher.

It is the student who must decide upon the project subject, but it is expected that the teacher should also be involved.

Students can choose the pathway that they want to take:

Pathway 1 – Solution to a problem

The student selects a problem and develops a system to solve it. Typically, the solution would be developed for a third party. There is no requirement for there to be an end user, but having one is likely to be useful. Examples of this type of project include:

  • a simulation e.g. of a business or scientific nature, or a well know problem such as the game of life
  • a solution to data processing problem for a business. e.g. stock control, membership systems
  • the solution of an optimisation problem. e.g. production of a rota, shortest-path problems, route finding
  • a computer game
  • an application of artificial intelligence
  • a control system, operated using a device such as Arduino board
  • a website with dynamic content, driven by a database back-end
  • an app for a mobile phone or tablet.

Pathway 2 – Investigation

The student selects an area of the subject that they are interested in and conducts an investigation of this area, with the focus being on programming. For an investigation, the student would need a supervisor with some knowledge of the area being investigated. Examples of this type of project include:

    • machine learning algorithms
    • 3d graphics rendering
    • analysis of live data feeds e.g. Twitter feeds
    • artificial intelligence
    • exploring large datasets for correlations, e.g. World Bank, and creating useful visualisations of these correlations to answer interesting questions
  • scientific investigations, eg where an analytic solution is not possible.


Administrator Manufacturing Systems Designer
Applications Programmer Marketing Teacher
Banker/Financial Services Multimedia Programmer Telecommunications
Broadcaster Public Sector Worker TV and Digital Media
Database Administrator Secretary/PA Web Designer
Information Systems Manager Software Engineer
Information Technology Consultant  Systems Analyst
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