Department Staff

Mrs K Lindop (Head of ICT, Business and Economics)

Mr M Davies (Second in Department)

Mr J Cooney

Mr A Shelton

Mrs N Turner

Mrs S Gilbert

Key Stage 3

Computing Levels

Computing is concerned with developing a student’s ability to understand the modern world and to be able to communicate ideas and handle information effectively. The students learn to use a variety of software packages and should be capable, by the end of the Key Stage, of working independently with a computer to gain access to, manipulate, interrogate information and present their findings in a format suitable for use and audience. We show students how computer models can help to predict the future and help them to solve problems with unknown variables. Students explore how to set up models and learn how to enter rules and instruction sets and we explore ways in which information can be communicated to others. In particular, students begin to appreciate how this information can be used to influence others. Students learn how to use a range of everyday software packages along with some basic computer programming.

Though the majority of work is completed on a computer, there are occasions where class-notes or worksheets need to be completed by hand. Students will be issued with workbooks for the purpose of keeping class notes and keeping all of their printouts together.

In years 7, 8 and 9 the students study Computing with specialist teachers for one hour a week. In addition, students are given numerous other opportunities within other subjects to expand and apply their IT knowledge and skills.

The KS3 curriculum has recently undertaken a big transition from the traditional ICT approach to computing. This means students will be taught how computers work and complete some basic programming tasks.

Year 7

Below is an outline of the units studied in Year 7 by all students. At the end of each unit students are assessed on their practical work and are awarded a level for that unit of work. This is collated at the end of the year to determine their overall level in Computing.

  • Unit 1 – Under the hood – Learning the history of computing
  • Unit 2 – Think like a computer scientist – How to think logically and create algorithms
  • Unit 3 – Shapes – Looking at the link between Art, Maths and Computer Science
  • Unit 4 – Animation – Framing instructions using a programming language such as Scratch
  • Unit 5 – Representing images –Investigating how images are created and displayed
  • Unit 6 – How the web works and web creation – The foundations of the internet

Scheme of learningYear 7 Computing

Year 8

Below is an outline of the units studied in Year 8 by all students. At the end of each unit students are assessed on their practical work and are awarded a level for that unit of work. This is collated at the end of the year to determine their overall level in Computing.

  • Unit 1 – Operating systems
  • Unit 2 – Python Programming
  • Unit 3 – Binary
  • Unit 4 – Programming a quiz –Using Scratch or Visual Basic to create a quiz
  • Unit 5 – Spreadsheets
  • Unit 6 – Connecting to the internet
  • Unit 7 – Sorted!

Scheme of learningYear 8 Computing

Year 9

Below is an outline of the units studied in Year 9 by all students. At the end of each unit students are assessed on their practical work and are awarded a level for that unit of work. This is collated at the end of the year to determine their overall level in Computing.

  • Unit 1 – Cyber security and social engineering
  • Unit 2 – Encryption
  • Unit 3 – Representing sound
  • Unit 4 – Databases
  • Unit 5 – Python
  • Unit 6 – 3D images

Scheme of learningYear 9 Computing

Skills and Knowledge Checklist


ICT is a very practical subject and the way in which we teach the subject means that the students get a lot of “hands-on” experience. Homework is related to the unit upon which they are working at any one time. A computer is not required to complete the homework tasks as we appreciate that most but not all students have access to them at home. For this reason, we offer students access to the computer facilities for as long and as often as we can outside of lesson times (e.g. during lunchtimes).

Key Stage 4 ICT

BTEC Tech Award in Digital Information Technology

What is a BTEC Tech Award in Digital IT?

BTEC Tech Award is a brand new Level 1 and Level 2 qualification. Complementing GCSEs and providing a first glimpse into a professional sector, this qualification assesses students through scenario-based external assessments rather than traditional exam formats.

How Does the Course Work?

The course is made up of three components: two that are internally assessed and one that’s externally assessed. The three-block structure, explore, develop and apply, has been developed to allow students to build on and embed their knowledge. This allows them to grow in confidence and then put into practice what they have learned.

Component 1

Exploring User Interface Design Principles and Project Planning Techniques

Aim: how to project plan the design and development of a user interface
Assessment: internally assessed assignment(s)
Weighting: 30% of total course

During Component 1, you will:

  • explore user interface design and development principles
  • investigate how to use project planning techniques to manage a digital project
  • discover how to develop and review a digital user interface.

Component 2

Collecting, Presenting and Interpreting Data

Aim: process and interpret data and draw conclusions
Assessment: internally assessed assignment(s)
Weighting: 30% of total course
During Component 2, you will:

  • explore how data impacts on individuals and organisations
  • draw conclusions and make recommendations on data intelligence
  • develop a dashboard using data manipulation tools.

Component 3

Effective Digital Working Practices

Aim: explore how organisations use digital systems and the wider implications associated with their use
Assessment: scenario-based external 1hr 30 min written exam where students demonstrate their knowledge to propose digital solutions to realistic situations.
Weighting: 40% of total course

To achieve this aim, your students will:

  • explore how modern information technology is evolving
  • consider legal and ethical issues in data and information sharing
  • understand what cyber security is and how to safeguard against it.

Is It Recognised by Employers and Universities?

In 2015, 1 in 4 students who entered university in the UK did so with a BTEC. BTEC is a recognised and well-known qualification suite, providing reassurance that students who study a BTEC meet the levels required by employers and Higher Education.

Scheme of learningYear 10 BTEC DIT

Scheme of learningYear 11 BTEC DIT

What Are My Options for Progression After the Course?

After completing your BTEC Tech Award, you will be in a great position to continue in the digital information technology sector. This qualification prepares you for both technical and academic routes. In Key Stage 5 at Helsby High School we offer the pathway into BTEC Extended Certificate in Information Technology (Level 3).

GCSE Computer Science

In Key Stage 4 the students build upon the programming skills they acquired in KS3. The course is quite practical with a coursework element but it is assessed at the end of Year 11 in two written examinations (worth 50% each). The coursework element is made up of a single task sent by the examination board and is completed in Year 11. The theory element is covered in the following units of work.

  • 1 Fundamentals of algorithms (Exam paper 1)
    • 1.1 Representing algorithms
    • 1.2 Efficiency of algorithms
    • 1.3 Searching algorithms
    • 1.4 Sorting algorithms
  • 2 Programming (Exam paper 1)
    • 2.1 Data types
    • 2.2 Programming concepts
    • 2.3 Arithmetic operations in a programming language
    • 2.4 Relational operations in a programming language
    • 2.5 Boolean operations in a programming language
    • 2.6 Data structures
    • 2.7 Input/output and file handling
    • 2.8 String handling operations in a programming language
    • 2.9 Random number generation in a programming language
    • 2.10 Subroutines (procedures and functions)
    • 2.11 Structured programming
    • 2.12 Robust and secure programming
    • 2.13 Classification of programming languages
  • 3 Fundamentals of data representation (Exam paper 1 & 2)
    • 3.1 Number bases
    • 3.2 Converting between number bases
    • 3.4 Binary arithmetic
    • 3.5 Character encoding
    • 3.6 Representing images
    • 3.7 Representing sound
    • 3.8 Data compression
  • 4 Computer systems (Exam paper 1 & 2)
    • 4.1 Hardware and software
    • 4.2 Boolean logic
    • 4.3 Software classification
    • 4.4 Systems architecture
  • 5 Fundamentals of computer networks (Exam paper 2)
  • 6 Fundamentals of cyber security (Exam paper 2)
    • 6.1 Cyber security threats
      • 6.1.1 Social engineering
      • 6.1.2 Malicious code
    • 6.2 Methods to detect and prevent cyber security threats
  • 7 Ethical, legal and environmental impacts of digital technology on wider society, including issues of privacy (Exam paper 2)

Scheme of learningYear 10 GCSE Computer Science

Scheme of learningYear 11 GCSE Computer Science

Key Stage 5

In today’s world, where ICT is constantly changing, individuals will increasingly need technological and information literacy skills that include the ability to gather, process and manipulate data. These skills are now as essential as the traditional skills of numeracy and literacy.

The impact of ICT on society is enormous and as the percentage of businesses and households connected to communication networks such as the internet grows, so does the need for individuals who can master and manipulate these new technologies. As well as the rapid development of new technologies that gather, organise and share information, familiar technologies like television, telephone and computers are evolving and being expanded by digitised information, causing a convergence of technologies.

At Helsby High School with other two very different courses at KS5- BTEC National Extended Certificate in IT and A Level Computer Science.

BTEC Extended Certificate in IT

The BTEC IT course is designed for learners who are interested in an introduction to the study of creating IT systems to manage and share information, alongside other fields of study, with a view to progressing to a wide range of higher education courses, not necessarily in IT.

It is comprised of the following units of work:

  • Unit 1 – Information Technology Systems (Written examination)
  • Unit 2 – Creating Systems to Manage Information (Practical database online test)
  • Unit 3 – Using Social Media in Business (Coursework)
  • Unit 5 – Data Modelling (Coursework)

Scheme of Learning – Year 12 BTEC IT

Scheme of Learning – Year 13 BTEC IT

A Level Computer Science

A Level Computer Science is offered to those students who have successfully completed GCSE Computer Science and have therefore already gained substantial knowledge in programming. The unit covered are outlined below:

  • Fundamentals of programming
  • Fundamentals of data structures
  • Fundamentals of algorithms
  • Theory of computation
  • Fundamentals of data representation
  • Fundamentals of computer systems
  • Fundamentals of computer organisation and architecture
  • Consequences of uses of computing
  • Fundamentals of communication and networking
  • Fundamentals of databases
  • Big Data
  • Fundamentals of functional programming
  • Systematic approach to problem solving
  • Non-exam assessment – the computing practical project

Assessment takes the form of 2 x 2.5 hour written examinations (80%) and a non-exam assessment or practical project (20%)

Scheme of Learning – Year 12 A Level Computer Science

Scheme of Learning – Year 13 A Level Computer Science

Other opportunities

Most ICT staff work in their rooms during lunch and after school, and students are welcome to use the facilities to complete any school work or gain advice.

What can I do to support my child in Computing?


Encourage your child to watch technology programs such as BBC Click will give them a good insight into how technology is emerging.  This is also available on the internet if you miss it.

Encourage your child to try their hand at programming using Scratch, a web based version is free –many students use this in school and can reinforce their learning at home.

Students can enrol free onto Code Academy. This is an interactive website that teaches students how to program. Start off learning Python, Visual Basic and PHP as this will be the most useful in school.

For those students really into technology investing in a Raspberry Pi could be an option. This is a mini computer that can be programmed – there are many excellent resources and tutorials on the internet that can help independent learning in this area.

Quick Start Guide

Talk to your child about any technology you use at work.

Encourage your child to play with free app creation websites – this is a fun way to learn how they work. is a good site that has lots of tutorials to guide your child through how to make an app of their choice.

Student quotes

“I find ICT challenging but fun. It is taught in an interesting way and there are lots of practical activities in a range of programs.”

“Helsby High School has lots more computers than my primary school. I like being able to log on using my own password and being able to save my work so no one else can get to it.”

“I did lots of fun units in Year 7. My favourite was creating a podcast about internet safety.”