In our increasingly technological world, students at ACG Strathallan are introduced to the benefits of Computer Programming and Coding from the day they begin school.
At a junior level the content used is very motivational with bright and engaging game-style themes. As students progress through the Year levels, they are then offered a mix of Coding and general IT skills to help buttress their learning. The programme has the flexibility to change often, adapting to incoming students’ abilities and updates in the available technology.
While highlighting the value of Coding, classes also encourage students to develop Computational Thinking abilities – the skills to take a problem, break it down, understand it and then solve it or create a solution.
ACG Strathallan ICT/Coding teacher, Andrew Reid, believes Computational Thinking is vital in our current techno-centric environment.
“The nature of work is changing and the skills our students will need when they enter the future workplace are changing,” says Andrew. “Computational Thinking provides our students with the ability to solve problems, be creative and be productive in any situation.”
“Not all students will become Computer Scientists, nor should they, but everyone needs to be able to solve problems. And no matter what industry our students work in, they should be able to take advantage of the processing power of computers to automate the boring stuff,” he continues. “We are providing the foundation for our students to be able to do that.”
“It is also important that we cater for new students arriving at the school. All our Coding activities are created in such a way that new students can easily get started and learn new skills, whereas those who already possess Coding abilities can be given learning tasks appropriate to their talents. The principles of Coding are quite simple, but they can be applied in a wide variety of difficulty levels depending on the task given.”
In Years 7 and 8, Strathallan students participate in one Coding lesson each week. The content is scaffolded so the initial problems given are quite simple, but then become more and more difficult without the students noticing. By the end of the module, all students can conquer complex problems they would have been unable to solve at the start of the unit.
Being web-based, students can continue working on tasks at home and many do, reporting how much they enjoy the challenges it presents. Their progress is charted visually on traffic light style progress boards, where they can see both their successes and what they have left to complete.
While the emphasis on Computational Thinking continues, by Year 9, students have the skills to create their own visual and text-based games.
At Year 12 and 13 they have the option of taking an A Level in Computer Science. The Cambridge syllabus the students follow is rigorous and contains a healthy balance of theory and practical skill to create an interesting and interactive synergy.
“Our students do very well in their final examinations, and many go on to study Computer Science or Engineering at University,” explains Andrew. “I receive a lot of feedback from my past students who tell me they were so well prepared when they started University, they sailed through the first year.”
To find out more about our coding classes and curriculum, join us on one of our weekly Guided Tours.