Mr. T. Osborne
Head of Department
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.
See video here:
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 and Digital Literacy. Each focusing on distinct areas of digital education that will be fundamental for our children’s future.
We also have an extensive National Award winning extra-curricular programme: fernDOWNLOAD. This includes a coding club where our students focus on the annual PA Pi Competition. In 2019 our team were UK runners up in the finals held in London.
We also have the only FIRST TECH CHALLENGE UK teams in the county, entering regional and national robotics events. The students involved are also heavily involved in community outreach spreading our departmental message of “Engineering a positive future for all”
All Year 9s take part in Digital Technology drop-down days that work on digital literacy skills. This includes use of basic office software and e-safety.
Some Year 9s are studying the IT Strand of the national curriculum including: Data Manipulation, Interpretation and presentation, use of spreadsheets and corresponding formulae and the production of data dashboards.
Year 10/11 Computer Science GCSE (AQA):
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. Students also complete a programming project where they develop a piece of software based on a brief.
Year 10/11 Digital Information Technology (Pearson):
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 (Coursework): Students will see the practical application of ICT in business and wider society and examine how different innovations have benefitted us all.
Coming September 2020 as a result of department expansion:
Year 9 (National Curriculum): Computing, all students will get core computing lessons to build on the Key Stage 3 content covered in middle schools. This includes covering concepts in all three strands of computing:
Computer Science: Includes- Programming, Computational Thinking and Algorithms
Information Technology: Analysis of big data,
Digital Literacy: E-Safety, Office Software Skills.
At FUS we want to be the centre of Digital Education. You’d find it difficult to find facilities like ours in other local schools. A few weeks ago we completed the building of our Computing and Robotics Centre:
The Computing and Robotics Centre (CRC)
Completed in August 2019, the CRC is the new centre for digital learning at FUS. The CRC has a dedicated computing classroom with over 30 up-to-date machines and an adjoined digital engineering suite for a full class.
The CRC engineering suite is fully resourced with:
· 16 Raspberry Pis with inbuilt 7” touchscreens and wall-mounted 19” displays;
· These computers are connected in their own private Pi-Net Network to allow our students to work collaboratively;
· A full class set of Lego-Mindstorm EV3 robot kits;
· A 3D Printer;
· Brand new class sets of Micro:Bit computers and accessories;
· Fully equipped with a range of components to provide opportunities for physical computing projects.
We are currently in the initial stages of planning two brand new high spec computer rooms for September 2020.
Our facilities allow our computing students to collaborate across our own private computing network to work on projects and ideas. They can also work on the physical network itself putting theory they learn in the course into practice which they are unlikely to be able do in other schools. Our physical computing equipment enables our computing students to put their code into physical objects and apply their coding creations to exciting inventions that will come to life. This is made even better with our own 3D printer facilities to build custom parts for their devices.
Beyond the Classroom/ Extra Curricular
We really value our students breaking out of the base curriculum and have a range of extra-curricular activities that put our students’ digital engineering skills to the test.
Our digital technology extra-curricular programme is fernDOWNLOAD.
• Each year we enter the prestigious PA Raspberry Pi competition, where last year one of our teams came 2nd in the UK! To note we were the only non-selective state school to make it into the finals in London. This club is completely free as we have our new purpose built facilities to support this.
• This year FUS has become a member of FIRST UK, an international STEM Initiative, by founding the county’s first FTC Robotics and Community Outreach club. We have currently 11 girls and 2 boys in year 9 as part of the club. Our group meets twice weekly working on national level robot engineering competition entries and putting together a programme to “Engineer a positive future for all”.
• Our Sixth Formers have also just started forming an e-sports team which we can host in our facilities and fully support where we can.