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St Mary's High School Downpatrick

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Computing at Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3 all students undertake computing within St Mary’s. This innovative course allows students to develop their computational thinking an area which has shown to enable students to solve bigger problems throughout the whole curriculum and in life. This is a more efficient and effective way to problem solve and is not just for coding.

So what is Computational Thinking?

Well it is a collection of diverse skills to do with problem solving that result from studying the nature of computation. It includes some obviously important skills that most subjects help develop, like creativity, ability to explain and team work. It also consists of some very specific problem solving skills such as the ability to think logically, algorithmically and recursively. It is also about understanding people.

Computer Science is unique in the way it brings all these diverse skills together. At Key stage 3 we introduce a range of mini group projects. Groups are set problems and we develop the skills of computational thinking throughout years 8-10. Computational Thinking is developed along with our coding using a wide range of software.

Over the last 3 years we have seen the engagement of students especially girls grow as we have introduced coding through games, web design and art utilising student’s creativity as well as their logical thinking skills. We will be uploading some examples of the work undertaken throughout the year.

BTEC First Information and Creative Technology Award

BTEC First Information and Creative Technology Award


The course is a two year programme that introduces you to the rapidly developing world of information technology. Through a combination of practical experience and written assignments, this vocational qualification provides a level 2 qualification.

Whilst studying the Level 2 Information and Creative Technologies course you will have the opportunity to be the creator and producer of IT technology products. You can achieve a level 1 or level 2 qualification after completing the course.



Unit 1 – Online World – Externally assessed compulsory unit

This unit comprises of learning aim A: Online services and communication

learning aim B: The Internet, its hardware, transmission methods and data exchange.

Learning aim C: Legislation

The exam is an onscreen test which lasts one hour and has 16 questions


Unit 3 – Digital portfolio – Internally assessed compulsory unit

The digital portfolio is a combination of work from the online world and optional unit displayed in a digital form.


Unit 13 Website Development Internally assessed

Students create an interactive website by planning, testing and evaluating their work.

Assessment & Qualification

Assessment with take various forms both coursework and exam based. The course provides a range of internally and externally assessed options. Units are not equal in assessment weighting.

Unit 1: Online World – 25% Unit 3: Digital Portfolio – 25% Unit 13: Web Design – 50%

Career and Progression

On successful completion of the course you will have the opportunity to progress onto a level 3 course in IT.

A-Level Applied ICT


This course provides a vocational perspective in the area of ICT. Students will develop practical skills in a wide range of software as well as understanding the development process and stages required for new IT systems. Prior study of the subject at GCSE level provides a sound foundation for the course.   This course will prepare students to enter a wide variety of courses in Further and Higher education establishments as well as employment. This course will also help develop a sound foundation for ICT and computing related courses.



  • Develop a broad range of key ICT skills and knowledge using vocational contexts.
  • Develop knowledge and understanding of the components, functions and applications of information systems within a range of organisations.
  • Develop an understanding of the main principles of solving problems using ICT and develop the skills necessary to apply this understanding.
  • Apply their knowledge and understanding of ICT and use skills (e.g. planning, research, evaluation, problem solving) in vocational contexts.
  • Develop an understanding of how IT systems are developed within organisations and the people employed to carry out those roles
  • Develop project management skills and an understanding of the need to work with others.


Entrance Criteria

  • GCSE ICT is preferable but not essential.
  • GCSE English is essential.
AS Level Unit 1 Information & Communication
  • Assignment, marked by class teacher, externally moderated by CCEA
  • The unit will focus on the nature of information in organisations, on how it is gathered, presented, communicated and used effectively to support the organisation


AS Level Unit 2 Software Applications & Tools 
  •  Assessment is via a computer based examination moderated by CCEA
  • This unit will develop skills and understanding in the most commonly used software applications and communications technology 


 AS Level Unit 3 Organisations & Information Systems
  • Assignment, marked by class teacher, externally moderated by CCEA
  • This unit will help develop an understanding of organisations and the information systems necessary for their support
  • Candidates gain an understanding of how information and ICT systems support the business functions


 A2 Level Unit 7 Investigating Systems
  • Assessment is via an externally moderated examination by CCEA
  • This unit will help develop an understanding of the systems development process, the role of Systems Analysis and Design and the importance of the User, in the creation of the best working solutions to business problems
  • Candidates will examine the stages involved in the systems development process and consider the associated documentation
  • This is a synoptic unit and brings together and makes connections with the areas of knowledge, skills and understanding covered in other units

Two further optional units will also be studied at A2 and will be assignment based, marked by the class teacher and moderated by CCEA.  Some units require working as a team although marks are awarded individually.

Progression/Career Routes
The development of skills, knowledge and understanding in this course will provide a broad basis for anyone entering into Employment or Higher Education.  The course will allow those wishing to continue their education within computing or ICT to do so at university or HND level.  For those students wishing to enter the workplace many local companies run IT apprenticeship programmes where students can utilise their practical skills gained throughout the course.