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Curriculum Vision

Digital Literacy aims to bring together elements from a range of digital disciplines including information technology and computing, in order to develop pupils’ capabilities to understand and harness the digital environment. We use the term to describe how pupils should leave us being able to use, create and evaluate a range of digital resources, as well as understand how digital technologies work. Our curriculum aims to develop independence and autonomy in pupils, going beyond a checklist of skills. We blend elements of IT, computing, cybersecurity and evaluative skills. 

We cover the Computing National Curriculum in Key Stage 3 but also have additional elements such as productivity skills and fitness for purpose that pupils may not have encountered before joining us.

Our approach to programming

Programming (creating and developing algorithms to solve problems using computational thinking) and coding (implementing algorithms and programming structures in a coding language) are both taught throughout Key Stage 3 as part of the wider offering of Digital Literacy. In the fast paced and rapidly changing environment of software development, it is the programming structures and approaches that will underpin whatever coding language is used. Therefore, we begin by ensuring all pupils are familiar with key programming concepts and structures through practical exercises. We then move on to typed coding languages using the structures learned. We aim for pupils to be able to apply their knowledge of computational thinking to whatever language they are studying.

We want all of our pupils to experience success in their coding endeavours, and we therefore have a gradually increasing level of demand across the key stage. Pupils develop their skills in coding languages designed for people learning to code before applying them to more demanding and less forgiving languages. This way, we hope that our pupils build their confidence early.

Key Stage 3 Curriculum

Please note that we may change and adapt the topics covered to respond to new developments (such as AI) or strengths and areas of development of our pupils.

Year 7

Productivity: Based on early assessments, we ensure that all pupils have the IT skills necessary to get the most out of their Chromebooks and produce good quality electronic documents. There is a differentiated learning scheme so pupils can find topics and techniques that will improve their skills. Pupils cover the main productivity apps in Google Workspace, with a particular focus on spreadsheets in the latter part of the Autumn Term.

Understanding Computers: We cover the basic principles of computer architecture and use of binary. Pupils will look at the Input-Process-Output sequence and the Fetch-Decode-Execute cycle through practical activities. Pupils will then look at some simple binary to decimal conversion and vice versa, and learn how text characters are represented using the ASCII code. This will be followed by some simple binary addition. Pupils will learn more in depth how storage devices represent data using binary patterns and physically save these patterns. 

Networks: This topic begins by defining what we mean by a network and addressing the benefits of networking, before covering how data is transmitted across networks using protocols.

Programming Principles: Pupils explore the main structures of programming and algorithms, as well as considering the efficiency of their algorithms. They begin with using blocks as the focus is on logic and algorithms, but pupils making fast progress can choose to work with typed code.

Year 8

Computing systems: We take pupils on a tour through the different layers of computing systems, from programs and the operating system, to the physical components that store and execute these programs, to the fundamental binary building blocks that these components consist of. The aim is to provide a concise overview of how computing systems operate, conveying the essentials and abstracting away the technical details that might confuse or put off pupils.

Developing for the Web: Pupils will explore the technologies that make up the Internet and World Wide Web. Starting with an exploration of the building blocks of the World Wide Web, HTML, and CSS, pupils investigate how websites are catalogued and organised by search engines. 

Introduction to SmallBasic: This unit is an introduction to programming in a textual language designed to make programming easy and approachable. It starts by introducing Turtle graphics, leading to the use of variables and loops. Programs using the Text window are used to introduce input, output and selection.  Pupils will get used to these programming statements while having fun producing coloured graphics and making a simple screensaver. They will learn the importance of writing statements accurately, documenting their programs and finding out for themselves in a very visual way how different program statements work.

Cybersecurity: This unit takes pupils on a journey of discovery of techniques that cybercriminals use to steal data, disrupt systems, and infiltrate networks. The learners will start by considering the value their data holds and what organisations might use it for. They will then learn about social engineering and other common cybercrimes, and finally look at methods to protect against these attacks.

Mobile app development: Pupils go through the entire process of creating their own mobile app, using App Lab from code.org. Building on the programming concepts learners used in previous units, they will perform user research, design their app, write the code for it, before finally evaluating it and possibly publishing it for the world to use.

Representations: Pupils revisit the principles of binary, converting to and from binary and how information can be represented using binary digits.

Year 9

Modelling with spreadsheets: Pupils use their prior knowledge of spreadsheets to build a financial model for a fictitious TV show that uses voting to bring in income. Spreadsheet features covered include SUM, MAX, IF and COUNTIF functions, cell naming for absolute referencing, conditional formatting, validation, charting and simple macros.

Audio visual representations: Pupils focus on making digital media such as images and sounds, and discover how media is stored as binary code. They study composing images out of individual elements, mixing elementary colours to produce new ones, taking samples of analogue signals to create a digital audio file. The unit has a significant practical aspect; pupils use design software (Pixlr and Audacity in this case) to manipulate images and sounds.

3D Media and animations: Pupils discover how professionals create 3D animations using the industry-standard software package, Blender. By completing this unit learners will gain a greater understanding of how this important creative field is used to make the media products that we consume. Lessons will take learners through the basics of modelling, texturing, and animating; outputs will include 3D models and short videos.

Introduction to Python: The focus is on the importance of writing correct syntax, being able to formulate algorithms for simple programs and debugging their programs. Pupils also gain experience of a textual language with a higher level of demand.

We go beyond the National Curriculum through:

  • Teaching units on cybersecurity and productivity skills;
  • Coding Club and robotics Club;
  • Entering in national robotics competitions.

For more information on the curriculum beyond KS3 please refer to the Guided Choices and Sixth Form Brochures which can be found on the:

Curriculum Page