Computer Science & ICT

Computer Science is considered to be the fourth Science and is included as part of the EBacc subjects.  It is a rigorous, academic subject where students learn about algorithms, programming and computer hardware as well as the ever-evolving legal and ethical issues which surround the subject. Whilst Computer Science has been pushed heavily by educationalists and industry, there is still a hugely important place for ICT.  In ICT projects, students focus on being able to effectively present information, master business applications and develop a sound awareness of online safety.

Fourth Form students have one lesson per week.  The philosophy behind the topics and content of the curriculum in these three years ties into the subject choices at GCSE.  Topics that allow students to explore Computer Science include using various programming languages, creating apps and use hardware to build a good foundation for the GCSE course.  Students are also taught a variety of business applications and learn about online safety.

LV students can choose to complete the GCSE Computer Science, or otherwise will complete the European Computer Driving Licence (ECDL).  LVI students can choose to complete the A Level Computer Science, Advanced ECDL or can even complete the GCSE Computer Science (as an additional qualification alongside their three A Levels). 


AQA GCSE Computer Science

Paper 1: Computational thinking & problem solving (40% of the course)

Practical aspects of the course. Includes: Fundamentals of algorithms, Programming, Fundamentals of data representation, Computer systems

Paper 2: Written assessment (40% of the course)

Theoretical aspects of the course. Includes: Fundamentals of data representation, Computer systems, Fundamentals of computer networks, Fundamentals of cyber security, Ethical, legal and environmental impacts of digital technology.

Non-examination assessment: Programming project (20% of the course)

The development of a computer program along with the computer programming code itself which has been designed, written and tested by a student to solve a problem. Students will produce an original report outlining this development.

AQA A Level Computer Science

Paper 1 – 2 ½ hour exam (40% of the course)

Practical aspects of the course.  Includes: Programming, Data Structures, Algorithms, Theory of computation, Software development

Paper 2 – 2 ½ hour exam (40% of the course)

Theoretical aspects of the course. Includes: Data representation, Computer systems & architecture, Legal & ethics, Communications and networking, Databases, Big data, Functional programming

NEA Practical project (20% of the course)

European Computer Driving Licence

The ECDL programme is introduced in the LV Form and completed in the UV Form. The ECDL is an internationally recognised qualification administered by the British Computer Society and certifies competence in the Microsoft Office suite of programmes.  Universities are keen for students to arrive with proof of ICT skills, and indeed in many cases make it a stipulation of entry.  The ECDL is worth 10 UCAS points and can be converted into a GCSE with the completion of an extra module.

Advanced ECDL

On completion of the ECDL, girls have the opportunity to develop their higher level computer skills by taking Advanced ECDL modules in Microsoft Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint. Certificates in each application are awarded individually; however, if all the modules have been completed there is the opportunity to gain an A Level qualification.


Most jobs in the 21st century involve use of a computer and the ability to use a keyboard efficiently is an important skill in the workplace.  Good keyboard skills are essential.   E-type is the modern equivalent of the RSA certificates, teaching speed and accuracy through 10-finger touch typing.  The course is online and provides self-paced learning.

Competitions, trips and clubs

The ‘Pi and Chips Club’ on Firefly is the place to go for all information about Computer Science competitions and learning how to program.  The department runs school-based competitions and also competes in national and international competitions which include: British Informatics Olympiad, Bebras UK, Animation17 and CyberFirst.  The students can also borrow robotics equipment to practise out of classes and there is a forum within the club website for students to ask questions and find out answers from other students.


St Mary’s girls and staff have excellent access to ICT facilities.  There are several fully equipped bookable computer suites: two with 20 – 24 machines, another of 16 machines and one with 8 machines which is mostly, but not exclusively, used by Sixth Form classes.  Girls are encouraged to have their own laptop from the UIV form and these are connected to the school internet and printing facilities.  Girls have both wired and wireless access to the school network across the site, every House has access to computers with more computers being available for general use in the UV and Sixth Form Houses. There are 20 bookable iPads available for lessons and Interactive projectors are available in all teaching rooms. 

Mrs Anne Thornton (Director of IT)
Mr Giles Mason (Head of Computer Science & ICT)