We are living in an age dominated by computers. When we fly from London to New York, computers fly the aircraft for most of the journey. Top up your Oyster online, pay for your latest purchases by credit card, do your banking online, and access your data files from anywhere in the world. All of these activities are done through the use of computers which require programming. The smartphone that you carry in your pocket is vastly more powerful than the computer that took man to the moon in Apollo 11. Scientists developed the World-Wide-Web or Internet at CERN in Geneva for file sharing of data, collected from the particle collider. The Higgs particle was discovered, found through statistical analysis, carried out by computers, which found this elusive ‘God’ particle. Apps are downloaded every day, on your smartphone, to make life easier or more fun. There are Apps to follow the World Cup, Apps for sports diets, Banking Apps and Apps to alert friends to your location, tell us the weather, appointment reminders and deadline alerts. All of these require programming and programming is part of the rigorous academic discipline of Computer Science, encompassing programming languages, data structures, algorithms and more. It is about problem solving – getting computers to help solve problems and find solutions. An element of this is codes and encryption, codes such as those cracked at Bletchley Park in WWII.
At A Level we offer AQA Computer Science. The online exam (Paper 1 – 40%) enables pupils to acquire proficient coding skills suitable for university courses and software companies. The A level project gives pupils the opportunity to develop a solution to a real problem or to carry out an investigative project that requires coding. The A level project requires a certain level of complexity, which may be achieved through object-oriented programming or otherwise, and students also become familiar with functional programming paradigms like Haskell. The opportunities to study Computer Science at university include information systems, artificial intelligence, electrical and electronic engineering, software engineering, computer games programming and design, computer graphics, forensic computing and applications to the combined sciences.