“Everybody … should learn to program a computer … because it teaches you how to think” – Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple

In September 2017, Downside School took the unprecedented step of introducing one period of Computer Science to all First and Second Form pupils. The course was so successful that, the following September, GCSE Computer Science was launched at the School. 

In a fast-paced and increasingly computerised world, understanding how technology works is extremely useful, not only to everyday life now, but also for its potential applications in years to come. There are currently 13 Fourth Formers studying GCSE Computer Science here. This year, they have been enjoying learning both programming and computational theory – learning to think and solve problems logically, like a computer.

From September 2019, Downside has made the significant step of introducing Computer Science at A Level. The School has also doubled the Computing provision for the First and Second Forms and introduced two periods of Computing per week for the Third Form. Overall, this means that the School now offers Computing to six of the seven year groups, giving a solid progression for all pupils.

Barney, Fourth Former, recommends GCSE Computer Science in a “more automated world where people need to understand how computers work”. He has been working on translating ASCII values into words and a translation programme between Norwegian, Spanish and French using Python, a coding language. Barney says: “Computer Science is something anyone can do. I recommend that all pupils give it a go!”

Ella, Fourth Former says: “People used to think IT was just for boys. Now it’s for everyone. It’s very cool.” Ella is developing a Chinese to French translation game, meanwhile Angelina, also in the Fourth Form, is working on a simple messaging service, also using code. Having previously studied C-language in China, Angelina finds Computer Science at Downside “a challenging but very useful skill”.