Sir Graham Balfour School

A member of the Sir Graham Balfour Multi-Academy Trust

Computing/ Creative Media


Subject overview

The aim of the Computing Department is to equip our students in as many ways as possible to meet the technological and information-centred challenges of a continually changing e-world. As more and more of our daily work and leisure lives become increasingly dependent on digital networks, the Internet and the microchip, it is vital that we foster in our students healthy, productive and creative relationships with these technologies and systems. We aim to develop the practical, intellectual and independent learning capabilities of our students so that they can confidently and wisely engage with ever-evolving technologies well into the 21st century.  

Computing is taught both as a discreet subject and cross-curricular thereby promoting the essential role that computers play in life in the modern world.

On joining the school, the students are given the responsibility for their own user area and e-mail accounts. They are encouraged to use the facilities during lesson times, break, and lunchtime and after school.

Students are encouraged to develop appropriate techniques across a wide variety of applications software programmes through problem solving; designing systems for audiences; linking of experiences from other curriculum areas and individual creativity.


With technology playing, an ever increasingly prominent role in our day-to-day, computer science now sits at the heart of almost every aspect of our lives. From our phones to our fridges, computer programmers in particular are in higher demand than ever before and this is not going to change anytime soon. We aim to develop problem solvers and prepare students to develop solutions to problems that do not exist yet.

Exam Specification – AQA Computer Science 7517

There are two 2.5-hour exams papers worth 40% each of the final grade.

Paper 1 is an on-screen programming and problem-solving exam. The programming language used will be Python. For this exam, students will have studied:

  • Programming – Students will learn more advanced programming concepts and techniques such as Object Oriented Programming.
  • Data Structures – Students learn how to put together and store complex pieces of data so that they can be easily used.
  • Algorithms – Students learn common computing practices when it comes to searching and sorting data.
  • Theory of Computation – Students will study computing and problem solving concepts such as the Turing Machine.

Paper 2 is a theory examination for which students will have studied:

  • Data Representation – How computers store and use different types of information such as images and sound.
  • Computer Systems – Students study computer hardware, logic and Boolean algebra.
  • Computer Organisation and Architecture – Students will learn about the components of a computer and their functionality.
  • Consequences of Using Computers - Students will explore the ethical and legal aspects of computers and upcoming technologies.
  • Communications and Networks – Students will learn about computer networking, security, the internet and wireless communications and the associated practices and techniques such as subnet masking and encryption.
  • Databases – Student will learn SQL and create and utilise complex databases.
  • Big Data – Students will explore how techniques such as AI and functional programming concepts are used to tackle large sets of data.
  • Functional Programming – students will learn about and practice the functional programming paradigm and concept.

There is a coursework component where students will independently analyse, design, develop, test and evaluate a complex project of their choosing. This will be worth 20% of their final grade.


Exam Board – OCR: Two 1.5-hour exams

20-classroom hours coursework component, where students complete a set programming task.

Exam 1 consists of:

Systems Architecture – Students will study how CPU and other systems function and work together.

Memory – Students will study the ‘stored program concept’ of how apps and program run on computers.

Storage – Students will study the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of storages available to computer systems.

Wired and wireless networks – Students will study how computers and other systems communicate with each other using networks.

Network topologies, protocols and layers – Students study how networks are physically or logically connected and the details of what packets are and how they are used.

System security – Students will study the security threats that networks face and explore the software and techniques used to protect them.

System software – Students study the functions of different classifications of software such as the operating system and utility software.

Ethical, legal, cultural and environmental concerns – Students learn about and explore the legal issues surrounding current and upcoming technologies. Students will also explore the ethical and moral issues of the ever-increasing presence of technology in our lives.

Exam 2 Consists of:

Algorithms – students will write step-by-step instructions to solve problems.

Programming techniques – Students will learn basic programming skills and techniques using Python.

Producing robust programs  - Students will learn about the importance of good programming practices and techniques used in industry. This will include the development life cycle such as analysis, design, development and testing, as well as common programming conventions.

Computational logic – student will learn how to think computationally.

Translators and facilities of languages – students will study how different programming languages are translated into code that a computer is able to process.

Data representation - students will study how complex data such as images and sounds are stored.

Key Stage 3

Computing is taught as a discrete subject and is part of the carousel with other Technology subjects. 

In Year 7, 8 and 9 students will be given an introduction into Computer Science, including planning, programming, algorithms and computer architecture. They will be encouraged to think logically and independently to solve computational problems and thorough understanding of computing concepts will give them the tools to transfer their learning to other problems in the future. 

All KS3 students learn about E-SAFETY topics like social networking websites, dangers of sharing personal information online, What is cyber-bullying? Identity theft, dangers of file-sharing over the Internet, What are viruses? and how to stay safe online. The main purpose of these lessons is to educate and inform our students so that they are empowered to make safe, intelligent and mature decisions when they are online. The Key Stage 3 curriculum will develop their skills in Computational thinking and digital literacy giving them the fundamental skills to study Computing at Key Stage 4.

Year 9

Unit 9.1 - Python will allow students their first experience of textual programming, developing the concepts previously learnt in visual programming units. Python is a fully featured interpreted language and one of the most popular programming languages in the world. It’s is used extensively in industry and considered to be one of the best starting languages for learning programmers.

By the end of this module, students will be able to write a variety of programs in Python.

Unit 9.2 – Networks – In this module, students learn how computers are connected together, advantages and disadvantages of networking. They explore components required to set up a variety of networks. Topologies are explored. They learn some classical encryption techniques.

Year 8

Unit 8.1– Students will learn to create websites using HTML coding and the importance of using correct and accurate syntax. They will write CSS code to set styles, e.g. background colour of sections of the page, size, font, colour and alignment of text. The site they create will be based on e-safety issues and aimed at Year 7 students.

Unit 8.2– Understanding computers: This unit allows students to explore inside the computer and they explore the history of computers. This unit will develop the concepts of computer architecture like RAM, ROM and storage devices etc. Students will be able to convert denary integers to binary numbers and understand how computers represent numbers, text and images.

Year 7

Unit 7.1 – Students are introduced to Scratch, an online programming environment which allows students to create games, animations and other simulations. They learn to create two games – boat racer game and a sophisticated and complex platform game. Through these games, students learn a range of programming techniques. They test their games and make necessary corrections. They have an opportunity to create their own game in Scratch.

Unit 7.2 – Starts with an introduction to the network, printing and gateway. Students learn how to manage files in the Internet Explorer, importance of backup and methods. They also learn about the possible dangers of social networking websites and how to respond and protect themselves against threats online. Students learn how to use email to communicate effectively. They are taught techniques to use the Internet to carry out effective research.


BTEC AWARD - Creative Media Production

This qualification is aimed at creative learners with a passion for digital applications. Tailor-made to meet the needs of today’s creative industries, it covers creative multimedia, artwork and imaging, game making and developing web products.

The Award gives learners the opportunity to develop sector-specific knowledge and skills in a practical learning environment. The main focus is on three areas of equal importance, which cover the:

  • knowledge that underpins the effective use of skills, processes and attitudes, including production processes and techniques.
  • development of key skills that prove your aptitude in creative media production such as investigating and developing ideas through pre-production, production and post production of media products
  • processes which underpin effective ways of working in creative media production, such as responding to briefs, planning, generating ideas and responding to feedback.

This course complements the learning in GCSE programs, such as Design and Technology, Art and Design and Computer Science, by broadening the application of ‘design and make’ skills in the context of a media product, working with a brief, and understanding and engaging different audiences through making compelling products.

What will I study?

How and when will I be assessed?

Internal assessment - Components 1 and 2 are assessed through internal assessment.

The components focus on:

  • the development of core knowledge and understanding including the range of different types of media products, production processes and techniques.
  • the development and application of skills such as: research skills and stylistic and  technical skills
  • reflective practice through the refinement of their own media products that allows students to respond to feedback and identify areas for improvement.

Internal assessment is through assignments done over the course of two years of study.

External assessment - there is one external assessment, Component 3, which provides the main synoptic assessment for the qualification. Component 3 builds directly on Components 1 and 2 and enables learning to be brought together and related to a real-life situation.

The external assessment is based on a key task that requires learners to demonstrate that they

can identify and use effectively an appropriate selection of skills, techniques, concepts, theories and knowledge from across the whole qualification in an integrated way. The external assessment takes the form of a set task taken under supervised conditions that is then marked and a grade awarded by Pearson.

The external assessment contributes 40 per cent of the total qualification.



Sir Graham Balfour School
North Avenue
ST16 1NR

For Sat Nav directions:

ST16 1NJ


01785 223490