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 Word Processing, Spreadsheet, Database, Presentation, Web Design and Desktop-Publishing packages along with some basic computer programming.

ICT Department (1)

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. All of the resources used in years 7 and 8 are available for the students to access at home via Moodle.

In years 7 and 8 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. Due to the recent change in the KS3 curriculum, no National Curriculum Levels will be awarded as we are currently in the process of updating the assessment procedures.

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 – Foundations of computing –How we convert human instructions into something computers understand

Unit 6 – How the web works –The foundations of the internet

Unit 7 – Web page creation –Creating web pages using HTML

Unit 8 – HCI hand-held digital device –Studying how humans interact with computers

Unit 9 – HCI OS interface –Learning about how the operating system works

Unit 10 – Representing images –Investigating how images are created and displayed

Unit 11 – Programming a calculator –Using Scratch to create a calculator

Unit 12 – Programming a quiz –Using Scratch or Visual Basic to create a quiz

Year 8 and 9

Below is an outline of the units studied in Year 8 and 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 – Operating systems

Unit 2 – The command line

Unit 3 – Binary

Unit 4 – Instruction set design

Unit 5 – Programming using selection statements and Boolean expressions

Unit 6 – Connecting to the internet

Unit 7 – Sorted!

Unit 8 – How to make a computer appear smart

Unit 9 – Recursive patterns

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

ICT Department (2)In Key Stage 4 the students build upon the skills they acquired in Key Stage 3 and have the option to choose to study for the GCSE in ICT (Double Award). They will have the opportunity to explore the challenges and potential implications of their actions in our ever changing digital environment, with the new specification allowing pupils to tap into their ability to master and adapt technology to suit their own needs.  The course is assessed both internally through a practical program of study using  ‘Controlled Assessment’ methods (worth 60% of their end of course grade) and an externally assessed unit using an end of unit examination (worth 40% of their end of course grade). This qualification enables learners who are living in a digital world to become digitally literate by studying two units of study in Year 10 and a further 2 units of study in Year 11;

Year 10

Unit 1 – ‘Living in a Digital World’

In this unit students explore how digital technology impacts on the lives of individuals, organisations and society. They learn about current and emerging digital technologies and the issues raised by their use in a range of contexts (learning and earning, leisure, shopping and money management, health and wellbeing and on the move). They develop awareness of the risks that are inherent in using ICT and the features of safe, secure and responsible practice. This unit is assessed through a 1 hour 30 minute examination paper set and marked by Edexcel.

Unit 2 – ‘Using Digital Tools’

This is a practical unit. Students broaden and enhance their ICT skills and capability. They work with a range of digital tools and techniques to produce effective ICT solutions in a range of contexts. They learn to reflect critically on their own and others’ use of ICT and to adopt safe, secure and responsible practice. The unit is internally assessed under controlled conditions and students must complete a controlled assessment task provided by Edexcel.

Year 11

Unit 3 – ‘Exploring Digital Design’

In this unit students explore the design of interactive digital products such as websites, computer games and databases. They learn how to interpret and produce design documentation. They investigate the properties of different types of digital content and features of the user interface. They develop knowledge and understanding of the legal, and other constraints on the production and use of digital content. This unit is assessed through a 1 hour 30 minute examination paper set and marked by Edexcel.

Unit 4 – ‘Creating Digital Products’

This is a practical unit. Students apply the knowledge and understanding of digital design they acquire in Unit 3 to produce an interactive digital product for others to use. They can choose what sort of product to design and make, but it must include an appropriate user interface and user input must determine the outputs that are produced. The unit is internally assessed under controlled conditions and students must complete a controlled assessment task provided by Edexcel.

Key Stage 4 – GCSE Computer Science

In Key Stage 4 the students build upon the programming skills they acquired in KS3. The course is very practical with 60% being coursework and the remainder assessed in a final examination at the end of Year 11. The coursework element is made up of two different projects that are provided by the examination board. The theory element is covered in the following units of work.

  • 1.1 Constants, variables and data types
  • 1.2 Structures
  • 1.3 Program flow control
  • 1.4 Procedures and functions
  • 1.5 Scope of variables, constants, functions and procedures
  • 1.6 Error handling
  • 1.7 Handling external data
  • 1.8 Computer structure
  • Systems
  • Hardware
  • CPU (Central Processing Unit)
  • Memory
  • Secondary storage
    • 1.9 Algorithms
    • 1.10 Data representation
    • 1.11 Software development life cycle
  • Prototyping
    • 1.12 Application testing
    • 1.13 Networking
  • Client server
  • Web application concepts
    • 1.14 Use of external code sources
    • 1.15 Database concepts
  • Query methods (SQL)
  • Connecting to databases from applications and web based apps
    • 1.16 The use of computer technology in society

Key Stage 5

ICT Department (3)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. OCR GCE ICT and BTEC National Diploma in IT (Level 3) – Double Award.

GCE ICT encourages students to become discerning users of ICT. It allows them to develop a broad range of ICT skills, knowledge and understanding. This could form a basis for progression into further learning, including progression from AS to A2, and/or employment.

BTEC National Diploma in IT is a vocational course (no examinations) that is designed to provide specialist work-related qualifications in a range of scenarios. It gives learners the knowledge, understanding and skills that they need to prepare them for employment.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

The school uses Moodle as its VLE which students can access using their user name and password. This contains resources from lessons, homework sheets, links to websites etc. All ICT courses can be found on Moodle and these resources are continually updated.

Moodle –

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?

comp3 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.

comp2Students 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.

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

comp1Encourage 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.”

Department Staff

Head of Department:

  • Mrs K Lindop (Head of ICT, Business and Economics)
  • Mr M Davies (Second in Department)
Other department members:
  • Ms C Simmonds
  • Mrs K Harding
  • Mr J Cooney
  • Mr A Shelton
  • Mrs N Turner