Computer Science at Eltham College is a course that aims to encourage students to develop computational thinking; the process of looking at a problem and then engaging in decomposition, abstraction and algorithm design.
This course goes far beyond basic computer skills as there is so much more to the subject than candidates may have either encountered or imagined. Those who might amaze their friends with seemingly nifty programming have never had to grapple with the ideas of how data might be usefully organized for timely processing.
The skills and confidence that will be developed while studying Computer Science are of significant benefit to whatever a young person may choose to do later, either at university or in the world of work.
The course is open to everyone, even those who have never taken Computing at GCSE. A lack of any experience should not be seen as presenting any difficulty. Enthusiasm and hard work are what determines exam success.
An Eltham College student with absolutely no previous ICT, let alone Computing, experience managed, through her intellect and hard work to gain the top A level mark in the whole country.
A significant fraction of the course is practical; for example, devising and writing programs and creating data structures to solve real problems. While some students may already possess some experience in programming it will be taught to everyone and there is no expectation that this is a skill that should be acquired in student’s own time.
Nearly forty years experience has shown that some students can have difficulty with certain aspects of programming. The only way to address such difficulties is by individual help, so additional support is provided outside the regular lesson time; this continues as long as any student feels it to be beneficial or at the discretion of the staff member.
Should any student have a particular interest that would take them beyond the confines of the syllabus, every assistance will be provided to support such enthusiasm. This extends to the purchase of items of hardware and software necessary to pursue such an investigation.
- To teach students to break large tasks into manageable parts (decomposition).
- To enable students to identify and isolate the significant elements of a task (abstraction).
- To equip students to devise a step-by-step solution that could be automated using code and a computer (algorithm design).
While many subjects are, or will be moving to terminal exams only, the CIE board that we use is, and will remain, completely modular.
Should a student need to re-take an AS module in the Upper Sixth this is perfectly possible, in either November or June. Each of the Lower and Upper Sixth years conclude with two written examinations. There is no coursework.
Programming skills are tested by the students preparing solutions to problems published by the exam board a few months in advance of the paper being taken.
Trips, activities and clubs
While watching computers in action is not a particularly illuminating activity, a visit to the new museum at Bletchley Park can put technological and computational developments into a worthwhile perspective.
Experts, including past students, also offer interesting talks on particular aspects of the subject.
- Mr T Collins MSc BEng PGCert (Head of Computing)
- Mr JP Pringle BSc