The Perse School

The Perse introduces fourth science

9 Jul 2013

The Perse Upper is introducing Computer Science as a ‘fourth science’ from September 2013. The new curriculum will teach students to think logically and equip them for high tech roles with employers in Cambridge and beyond.

The School worked with local high tech entrepreneurs and academics to secure their expert input to the approach. The result is a rigorous curriculum grounded in the essential scientific principles of the subject.

All Year 7 students will study Computer Science, learning how to think in a structured, logical way and take a methodical approach to problem-solving and task decomposition –  essential skills even if they do not choose to continue the course to GCSE or A level.

Head Ed Elliott explained:

“There has been a lot of media coverage this year about the importance of teaching children not just how to use technology but to create it. This aspiration is sound, yet in the past some universities have felt A Level Computer Science syllabuses so weak and students so lacking in the theoretical concepts that they preferred to teach undergraduates the principles themselves.

At The Perse we’ve been teaching basic programming in Technology and ICT lessons for a number of years as well as offering extra-curricular opportunities through a long-running programming society and technology projects.  Having invited expert opinion before introducing changes, we are convinced that a rigorous, scientific curriculum will arm students with the skills they need to develop the technologies of the future.”

The course has been carefully designed to be accessible to all, regardless of any previous exposure to formal Computer Science teaching. Students will have three lessons per fortnight; around two thirds of lessons are intended to be classroom-based (making use of technology such as Chromebooks), with other lessons taking place in the ICT Rooms. This reflects the need for a strong grounding in thinking skills and understanding to complement practical tasks. Lessons will include:

  • A thorough and systematic grounding in algorithms and programming with open-ended and easily accessible practical tasks to help students master their new skills.
  • Mathematical and digital technology concepts explored through programming tasks.
  • An exploration of theoretical concepts.

Alice Pinches, a Computer Systems graduate and a former Head of Maths, will oversee the introduction of the new course at The Upper.

The building blocks of Computer Science are put in place at The Perse as early as Pre-Prep, where children are introduced to the concept of coding. In the Prep pupils study basic control technology from Year 3 and develop this into programming projects in Years 5 and 6. From September they will also be able to join a new after-school ‘Code Club’, supported by ARM, where they will learn to programme Scratch, CSS, HTML and Python.




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