Computer Science at Ballard School is about problem-solving, thinking skills and developing ways of thinking that can be used across the curriculum and in life generally. It is also about using computer systems efficiently and safely on a day-to-day basis.
Giving young people at Ballard School the confidence to use a variety of devices to enhance their learning is key, with well-resourced and up-to-date teaching suites to complement the use of pupils’ own devices as they head towards GCSE.
IT and Computing continue to evolve at a fast pace in the world and inspiring the next generation of coders and programme developers is a key strand of Computer Science at Ballard School.
Our ‘Digital Leaders’ receive extra training and privileges so that they can support other pupils (and sometimes staff!) in their use of IT throughout the Ballard Curriculum. This gives our older pupils the opportunity to work with younger members of the school as they mentor and support them.
Developing independence, working with others to solve problems and having the confidence to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes, is what it is all about. It has been great to see former pupils returning to school to talk about how they are now working in IT, collaborating and problem solving in teams scattered around the globe.
Ballard Nursery and Kindergarten pupils have a chance to get involved with Computer Science. We have bespoke early years’ computers with chunky colour-coded buttons on a large keyboard which are easy for even the smallest of fingers to use.
They love playing educational games and embrace the technology with such ease, putting some of us to shame with their ability to pick things up so quickly.
In Pre-Prep our pupils move onto iPads and more sophisticated computers; they still have the coloured buttons but the keyboards are only slightly larger than normal. Pupils can log onto the computers in the library and can spend time on educational games, they can also take iPads into the classroom for many of there lessons.
Computers add another dimension to their work and support learning in different ways. Composing their firework poetry on iPads enabled Year 1 to not only add colourful imagery but also to see which onomatopoeic words they had spelled incorrectly.
In Years 3 to 5, the use of computers is fully integrated into the curriculum. Pupils have access to devices in the classroom as well as access to the IT Suite in the main school. Other subject teachers bring pupils into the IT suites to add another layer of learning to their lessons. Year 3 often work as a group in their French lessons before splitting into pairs to practise what they have learnt with the aid of a fun computer program.
Pupils are encouraged to be creative and take advantage of the myriad of applications available to develop their IT skills as well as enhance their learning. Typing challenges encourage them to improve their keyboard skills.
Regular work on internet safety develops their awareness of how to use the internet responsibly. Creating animations for History, designing posters for English or working with DT to research, design, create and display a project as part of a mini Dragons Den, all provide inspiration, fun and learning opportunities.
Computer Science in Years 6 to 8 at Ballard School lays the foundations for the pupils to use IT independently, as well as developing the problem-solving and thinking skills necessary as they progress through their education and on to work.
All the key aspects such as word-processing, spreadsheets and databases are covered, as well as internet safety. In addition, coding sessions enable a different skill set to be developed, including Computational Thinking and problem-solving. Many pupils take advantage of after-school clubs to stretch their learning and take their interests further.
Year 9 Computing at Ballard School is a foundation year for GCSE, providing preparation not only for Computing GCSE but also ensuring that the pupils are able to make full use of IT in all their subject areas.
In Years 10 and 11, pupils may opt for a full GCSE in Computer Science or alternatively may choose an IT skills course, which allows them to keep their skills up-to-date and gain a certificate at the end.