Head of Department:
Mr C Deighan
Mrs L McBride
Mr S Murtagh
Mr P Bradley
Mr K Elgin
What is Computer Science?
Computer Science is the study of how computers and computer systems work and how they are built and programmed. Its primary aspects are drawn from the disciplines of Technology, Design, Engineering, Mathematics, and the Sciences. Computer Science has many sub-fields. These include: computer graphics; digital hardware design; communication networks; and, computer programming. Computer Science is a discipline, like mathematics or physics, that explores foundational principles and ideas.
What is ICT?
Information and Communication Technology is the study of the systems that are used throughout everyday life and work to allow humans to develop, share and process information. The rapidly changing world of ICT has affected older communications methods, such as newspapers, books and television as well as leading to new media, such as social networking websites. ICT is a skills-based course focussing, typically, on the use of applications such as word processing and spreadsheets. ICT skills are fundamental to ALL areas of the curriculum, as are literacy and numeracy. That is, ICT emphasises the study of hardware and software that already exist, rather than the creation of new hardware or software. As can be seen, there is a significant difference between ICT and Computing, though the two should be seen as complimentary and not as rivals.
ICT Facilities at Loreto
There are four specialist ICT Suites containing 100 network stations, open from 8.30am to 4.30pm daily. In addition to the ICT rooms, students have access to PCs in a number of locations around the school including, the Senior Study, Library, Technology and Careers Department. All stations have filtered Internet access. There is a wide range of modern software and electronic reference material available to students and staff. All staff and students have access to their work from home, via C2k.
Key Stage 3
In Year 8 & 9, ICT is timetabled for two periods per fortnight. As well as developing end-user ICT skills, elements of Computer Science are introduced. ICT skills are reinforced in cross-curricular work, which is included in assessment. Skills taught include office applications, graphic and web design, and game development. In other subject areas, teachers bring classes to the computer rooms when it is appropriate, in support of their subjects and cross-curricular ICT assessment.
Key Stage 4
The school offers both ICT and GCSE Digital Technology (Programming) at GCSE. Students are given clear guidance on the differences between the two subjects, and the career areas which one or other are suitable for. In ICT, the Double Award OCR Cambridge Technical course is followed. Practical assessment is worth 100% of the mark. In Year 11, this focuses on Communication and job roles within the IT industry. In Year 12, the emphasis is on e-Commerce, Presenting Information and Games Development. In Digital Technology, the CCEA course develops a good understanding of how computers function at a hardware level. By the end of the course, students are expected to be confident programmers. Theory work is worth 70% split over two written exams. Practical work, worth 30% of the final mark, tests a student's ability to solve problems through writing new software. Languages used here include C# and Java.
Key Stage 5
Both GCE ICT and Software Development are offered. In ICT the Cambridge Technical in IT allows students to gain an insight into IT and cybersecurity. A wide range of units and pathways provide students with practical and project-based opportunities to develop knowledge and skills in areas such as infrastructure, application development and data analysis. For Software Development, CCEA Systems Development is followed. This relatively new course was introduced to try to encourage and foster development of key object-oriented programming skills - a key requirement for anyone considering pursuing a career in the software development industry.
The course aims to help students to:
develop a genuine interest in programming in software systems development;
develop an understanding of systems approaches and modelling techniques;
develop skills that will prepare them for work in today’s software industry;
participate in developing a software project using a complete software development process;
apply their skills to work-related scenarios;
research, develop and present their findings in a variety of formats;
develop advanced study skills to prepare for third level education; and
demonstrate their understanding and application of key concepts through assessments.