Resources for KS3 Computing and GCSE Computer Science

These are free resources for the teaching of KS3 Computing and GCSE Computer Science.  You can sequence them yourself (with the help of the curriculum concept map below) or see how I've incorporated them into a scheme of work. They are aimed at helping teachers to deliver KS3 Computing or GCSE Computer Science courses, but could also be used for self-study or revision. In addition to the detail, it's also worth having an idea of what Computing is.

The resources below were all produced by the creator of this site and are free to use under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence.  There is another section of the site that aims to crowd-source a set of quality, free, third-party Computing and Computer Science resources - these are searchable and you can contribute your own links.

The 2014 National Curriculum for England is less detailed than previous versions - at Key Stage 3 it describes a common core for each subject that teachers are free to embellish and augment as they see fit, and at Key Stage 4 it just says that Computing should be taught but gives no further detail.  Interestingly, there was more detail in the draft version, including named algorithms.

When planning a Computing curriculum, one question you could ask yourself is "What does it look like if someone is good at Computing?"  Think about the things that such a person could do, make a list and sequence them into an appropriate order so that areas that depend on other topics come later in the course.  The following is the list of topics that I chose - together with free resources to teach them.  I've left the order up to you, so it's more a specification or programme of study than a scheme of work, but it represents what I would like students to know by the time they leave school and there's link to a suggested scheme of work below.

The list includes, and expands upon, those topics included in the National Curriculum for Computing. If students get a good grounding in the theory at Key Stage 3, you will find that there is actually very little left to cover for GCSE Computer Science, and you can concentrate on practising programming techniques and revising for the exam.

KS3 Computing Curriculum

There are no attainment targets in the new National Curriculum, so I have split the course into six sections that map approximately to the bullet points in the KS3 curriculum:

Notice that I don't see "computational thinking" as a separate topic - it's more a side-effect of having sound knowledge and understanding of the other topics in the curriculum, and being able to link them together.

Some of these topics are of conceptual interest, while others, such as wireless networking, will be of practical use in the home or workplace. I have grouped them to facilitate assessment and reporting. Links are to pages within this site, PowerPoint shows to introduce topics to the class, or to resources and examples I have created in other sites such as Scratch and replit.com. There are also supporting blogs and a YouTube channel.

Computing Curriculum Concept Map

KS3 Computing Curriculum Map

One of the reasons that I prefer KS3 Computing to the old KS3 ICT curriculum is that the topics link to form a coherent whole, and my students appear to like that too. In Visible Learning, John Hattie identifies linking areas of the curriculum as one of the top ten most-effective teaching techniques, and empirical evidence suggests that this is something that teachers from a non-Computing background struggle to do. I have therefore also created a Computing curriculum concept map to show how these topics are related and what links them together.

Creating a Scheme of Work

Hattie also makes the point that buying, or using, someone else's scheme of work makes teachers less effective because they spend less time thinking about the curriculum as a whole, and that teachers and departments that create their own curriculum or scheme of work have more "impact". That is why the resources on this page are presented in no particular order - it is important that you think about how these ideas are related, and create a sequence that would best suit your own students. I have written an article to help you, which explains how I think that the representation of data links the whole of Computing.

Topics and Resources

Representation of Data

Note that the resources below were all made by me (unless otherwise stated).  I've also created a crowd-sourced database of links to Computing resources on other sites - feel free to contribute your own resources.

Maths for Computing

Algorithms and Programming

When students are working on programming topics, I also sometimes give them logic puzzle starters.

Networking

Information Systems

E-Safety

Examples

There are examples - particularly of the e-safety and cybersecurity elements of the course - in the news all of the time. The best examples are included on the Impact page, but for the latest examples look for the feeds on Twitter or Facebook.

There are examples of programming techniques, plus tasks and solutions, on the Learn to Program and OCR Coding Challenges pages. Finally, there are longer discussions of some topics (and relevant pedagogy, etc.) on the Computing and ICT in a Nutshell blog.

Videos

There are videos to support the teaching and revision of some of these concepts in the Computing and ICT in a Nutshell YouTube channel, as well as practical guides on other things such as the use of Microsoft Access, some aspects of LibreOffice, HTML, Scratch and Python.

Revision

There are plenty of external revision resources, such as those available in Computing resources database, but I have also created a limited number of revision resources:

KS3 Computing Scheme of Work

There is a page to show the order that I teach these topics in the first year of my KS3 Computing course, but it is better for you to create your own scheme of work- here I describe how the curriculum map can be used to do that.  You can create your own scheme of work and then source the individual lesson resources from elsewhere.

All of the links above are to my own resources, but I have also created a Computing resources database, to collect and collate high-quality third-party free Computing - look at the Links page.

Assessment of Computing

For assessment, I used a set of skill statements adapted from the CAS progress pathways document but I don't bother with the colours or numbering the levels - I record whether the student is sometimes successful at performing the named skill, or whether than can do it confidently and consistently. You can also read my thoughts on measuring progress in the Computing and ICT in a Nutshell blog.