Mr. T. Osborne
Head of Department
“Preparing young people for their digital future
New technologies are woven into all aspects our lives and we want to ensure our students are prepared for this in their future careers. At Ferndown Upper School we want to be a centre of digital learning in our community.
In 2014 the new subject of ‘Computing’ was founded as a foundation subject in our national curriculum. With this in mind our department embraces the mission of the National Centre for Computing Education to ensure a high quality computing education for all.”
There are few subjects in school that will become pivotal in any career path chosen by our students, but computing is one of them. We deliver all three core strands of computing:
- Computer Science
- Information Technology
- Digital Literacy.
Each focusing on distinct areas of digital education that will be fundamental for our children’s future.
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The Computing and Robotics Centre (CRC)
Since our CRC opened after its first phase of completion in 2019, our department facilities have grown from strength to strength. We most recently have completed the second phase with our Webb STEM Learning Hub, a £125,000 expansion supported by the Wolfson Foundation.
We aim for the CRC to become the best equipped facility of its kind in the region and have further plans for expansion over the next few years as we become Dorset’s Digital T Level Provider from 2022.
“Inspired by man’s exploration of space, our CRC facilities our named after successful space missions where digital technology takes our understanding to the edge of the known universe.”
Galileo Lab: A 32 machine lab with graphic engineering equipment including HD screens and high graphics machines for media editing and software engineering.
Webb STEM Learning Hub (Curiosity & Cassini Lab): Our most recent development; supported by an award of £100,000 from The Wolfson Foundation. Two brand new purpose built 32 machine labs with multi-purpose desks allowing for adaptations for physical computing, robotics and software engineering focused lessons.
Voyager Lab: A purpose built multipurpose lab with a full class set of Raspberry Pi computers, 24” screens and 8” touchscreens and its own Raspberry Pi-Net server.
Leading Digital Education in our Region:
fernDOWNLOAD: Nationally recognised & Award-Winning Extra-Curricular Programme.
Established in September 2018, fernDOWNLOAD is a STEM programme with a difference.
Run completely by staff volunteers, fernDOWNLOAD provides opportunities for young people to get involved in a range of activities that gets them engaged with mechanical and digital engineering. Using the passion and engagement of our students we offer extensive outreach to local middle and infant schools to enthuse more engineers of the future, known as fernOUTREACH.
For more details, see our website: www.ferndownload.org
FIRST UK Champion School for Dorset, Wiltshire & Hampshire
A major part of our fernDOWNLOAD programme, is our association with FIRST, the largest STEM education organisation in the world. Ferndown Upper School is the region’s designated FIRST UK Champion School.
We take part in two of FIRST’s international robotics competitions:
- FIRST® LEGO® LEAGUE, where our boys’ club take part in LEGO® robotics competition
- FIRST® TECH CHALLENGE, where our girls’ club (currently the largest girls’ robotics club in the UK) engineer large mechanical robots based on each season’s theme. We are currently the reigning South-west regional champions and winners of the CONNECT award for our work in the community.
T-Level Digital: Digital Production, Design and Development
Exclusively chosen by the Department of Education in Dorset, our new T-Level course will take digital education to the next level.
Via specialist training supported by outstanding teaching, local business and world-beating facilities, students who undertake this course will finish fully equipped for software developer roles in our vibrant local digital sector. Students will be qualified upon completion to start roles such as:
- Junior Developer
- Junior Web Developer
- Junior Application Developer
- Junior Programmer
- Junior Games Developer
- Junior Software Developer
Students will also take part in a 10 week placement in businesses in our area, providing further employment skills and experience to ensure excellent career progression and/or HE opportunities.
T-Level students will be proficient in coding in at least four programming languages (including Java, Python and HTML/CSS), digital business practice and cybersecurity.
We are planning further development of our Computing and Robotics Centre to support its delivery, including a new T-Level Conference Centre and an additional purpose built software engineering lab.
With an innovative curriculum shaped and supported by our local and national digital sector, FUS’s Digital T Level will truly prepare students for careers of the future enabling unrivalled opportunity.
To find out more about this amazing qualification see: https://www.tlevels.gov.uk/students/subjects
NCCE CPD Satellite Hub
From January 2021, our expert staff will be leading regional CPD to improve computing teaching in local secondary and primary schools fully supported by the NCCE Exeter Hub.
With our excellent physical computing and robotics facilities we are in an ideal position to improve best teaching practice in this specialist area of computing education.
A curriculum to “Engineer Future Innovators”
Physical Computing and Digital Engineering at its core
Our department is fully resourced with a range of physical computing equipment that is used at every key stage to engage students with electrical engineering and robotics.
- Class sets of Raspberry Pi Computers with touch and wall-mounted screens
- Our own private Pi-Net Network allowing students to work collaboratively
- 3D printing facilities
- A full class set of LEGO® Mindstorm EV3 Robot Kits
- 16m2 robot arena courtesy of FIRST® UK
- Official FIRST LEGO® LEAGUE competition tables
- Multiple class sets of micro:bit MOVE:motor & MOVE:mini robots, inventors kits and LED Zip Halos
- Full electrical engineering equipment and breakout boards, including a wide range of sensors, inputs and other components
- Multiple sets of mechanical robot kits, computers and tools for extra-curricular activities
- Class set of A Level Logic Gate kits
Key Stage 3 (Year 9)
Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is closely mapped to the requirements of the national curriculum to ensure students get a grounding in the main aspects of computing: Computer Science, IT and Digital Literacy.
We break our Year 9 course into four main topics:
- Introduction to the System (Induction and Basic Software Use)
- Computational Thinking & Coding (Using Python as our chosen language)
- Digital Engineering (Including robotics and physical computing)
- Cybersecurity (E-safety/ digital threats as personal users and businesses)
Key Stage 4
Computer Science GCSE
Students cover a range of concepts including: Fundamentals of Algorithms; Programming (Using Python); Data representation; Systems; Networks; Cyber Security; Ethics, Legal & Environmental Issues; Software Development.
Students are delivered in a spiral curriculum, being taught in order of difficulty and revisiting regularly to build on prior knowledge. With our physical computing and specialist facilities our students will learn many aspects of their course using electronic engineering and robotics equipment a unique feature at FUS. Students sit 2 external examination papers at the end of the course in Year 11.
Digital Information Technology
The course covers three key units:
Interface and software design (Coursework), where students will discover and apply the principles of software interface design. This includes the use of our unique touchscreen network in the digital engineering lab where students will create them for real.
Data and Information Analysis (Coursework), learn about big data and how to use dashboards and spreadsheets to get meaningful information out of it.
Information Technology (Y11 Exam): Students will see the practical application of ICT in business and wider society and examine how different innovations have benefitted us all.
Key Stage 5
Computer Science A Level
This course is examined at the end of 2 years with 2 x 150min exam papers (worth 80%) and a programming project (worth 20%).
As an institution we choose Python as our main coding language at all Key Stages. If your child is unfamiliar with Python I plan on running a day of Python training for prospective external students in the summer term (once GCSEs are complete), this is no cost. The course builds upon concepts at GCSE, including fundamentals of programming, data structures and algorithms. However we take this further with new data types, advanced subroutine use and optimisation algorithms.
- More advanced programming in two languages (Python & Java)
- Computational thinking skills including advanced decomposition, optimisation and abstraction.
- Organisation and project management skills
- Electrical engineering skills in our digital engineering suite
Unit 1: Information Technology systems, students study a range of hardware and software solutions that are used in a range of domestic and organisational structures. Examined Unit in Year 12.
Unit 2: Managing Information, students research and create a range of data-handling systems to solve problems in a business context. Assessed via 2 days controlled assessment practical.
Unit 3: Social Media in business: Students study a range of social media practices by business and create their own strategy in a portfolio based project.
Unit 4: Website Development: Students learn how to produce effective websites for business in this portfolio based unit.