Computing

Computing is integral to our daily lives and one of the fastest growing career sectors. We seek to equip students as creators, not consumers, developing computational thinking skills so students become analytical thinkers and problem solvers able to compose solutions and software, not just use it. Minecraft reigns in junior lunch clubs.

Lyndsay Hope is a long-time working member of Computing at School and we host the CAS Wye Borders hub. As a centre for Young Rewired State we host the annual regional YRS Festival of Code, and fielded finalists Team cudl in 2014 and Buoy in 2015.  We run monthly YRS Hyperlocal meetings for students from the area to get together and build coded solutions.

Through Monmouth Science Initiative, we deliver robotics and coding workshops to students from partner schools.  The school’s Folding@Home team, Monmouth_School_UK allows students to get involved in a global distributed computing project, while supporting Stanford University’s charitable research projects into cures for many illnesses.

Below is a video which shows the result of a collaborative project, between boys of all ages at the school, which allows you to take a walk around the school site courtesy of Minecraft!

GCSE/iGCSE

At GCSE students can choose to take WJEC GCSE Computer Science.  The Computer Science GCSEs are part of a new raft of qualifications, and students study theoretical and practical programming topics.  There are units on hardware and software, data and algorithms, programming solutions, networking and the internet, and legal and ethical aspects. 

A controlled assessment project of 15 hours gives students the opportunity to investigate a problem, then design, build and test a solution: this is done using Python.  In an online programming examination, student program solutions to questions in Java using Greenfoot. Finally, there is a theory paper involving short answer questions on binary, algorithms and other theoretical aspects.

Students learn founding principals of computing in class, and with speakers and trips, eg Raspberry Pi Bootcamps, reinforce its connection to life outside the classroom.  Students are encouraged to pursue projects outside the classroom too, eg building servers, making apps and games.

AS/A Level

At A level we study AQA’s Computing specification.  This involves two units at AS level and two at A2 level.  Students learn to code in Visual Basic.Net in a change from GCSE level. 

Students develop programming and problem solving skills, learning about data representation, algorithmic complexity, different programming paradigms, machine level architecture and systems development.  Students also explore consequences of the use of computing, following news from the industry and exploring the real world implications of this fast moving discipline.

At AS level there is a theory paper and an online programming examination while at A2 level there is a theory exam and a programmed development project.  The project allows students to develop a solution to a real problem for a real client using a programming language of their choice.

The exam board’s statistics show our students do well, particularly in the practical programming exams where they consistently score above national average.  In the last two years students have been placed in the top 50 in the UK for A Level Computing and so won Netcraft awards.

Beyond Monmouth School

Around 50% of our A Level Computing students go on to study Computer Science.  In recent years students have gone to Cambridge, St Andrews, Edinburgh and Durham universities to pursue Computer Science. However students have also taken apprenticeship routes for example into GCHQ and Renishaw.  Others still have taken combined courses like Computing with French, Computer Science and Philosophy, or Games Development. 

Computing is a swift-moving, broad and creative subject opening the doors to diverse careers in industry, commerce, research and government.  It supports many other fields, eg Engineering, biotechnology and finance.  The latest Association of Graduate Recruiters survey states IT posts are among the most numerous graduate jobs with some of the highest starting salaries, while monster.co.uk (‘the world’s leading career network’), says ‘graduates with degrees in mathematical sciences and informatics are likely to obtain jobs with higher starting salaries than graduates in other disciplines.’