Increasing uptake. Course Choices

  • Carl Roderick

    In the next few weeks management will be asking for Course Descriptions for National 4 and 5 courses.


    The main issue is getting pupils to take our subject in S3 (s.grade) according to stats.  Most subject have 2 periods a week in S3 and then 3 periods a week in S4.


    In S3, with 2 periods a week we would cover one unit and a bit of the 2nd.  I would be offering “Software Design and Development” as the main unit and then start the “Information System Design and Development


    In S4, we could complete level 4 for some pupils; start level 5 for the majority …


    Q. Would anyone be willing to to write/ contribute an A4 description of our “Computing and Information Science” that would be very atrractive to pupils?  This will help all of us, I hope …


    Jeremy Scott

    Can I also suggest that colleagues use ths forum to feed back on how their numbers are for the coming session compared to previous years?

    It would be very useful to get a picture of the scene across the country. It would also be helpful if you could also state your school & authority.




    Peter W Donaldson

    Hello Carl,

    I’ve uploaded our course description for our S2-3 course Technologies with a focus on Computing to this groups document section. It’s a course that we run for a year and two thirds for three periods a week from S2 to the easter of S3. It’s designed to give pupils enough skills and knowledge to be able to complete either National 4 or 5 in Computing and Information Sciences or Intermediate 1 Creative Digital Media or Intermediate 2 Creative Industries from Easter of S3 till the end of S4.


    My own personal opinion is that we need to move away from thinking about treating aspects of software development and computer systems as monolithic topics with either little, or no real world context, and move to a model where different combinations of these skills can be developed over time in a range of different Computational contexts.


    I define a Computational context as an area of modern life that is potentially interesting and engaging for students and that is also particularly well suited for highlighting and developing knowledge, concepts and skills in Computer Science and IT. Some examples might include Animation, Mobile Phones and Applications, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Multimedia applications, Digital Forensics, Computer Security, Games Development, Web Design, Social Networking, etc, etc. There are many more contexts that could be used at different stages in Computing and it’s a similar approach to the one that’s used in most other school subjects.


    A good example of this approach is the Exploring Computer Science curriculum which anyone can download the teacher and pupil materials for. It’s pitched at senior pupils but there’s nothing to stop Computing teachers in Scotland taking the basic principles and adapting the approach appropriately for junior and middle school pupils.

    Ann McVey


    Where is the ‘Exploring Computer Science Curriculum’ that you refer to?  I absolutely agree that we need to use interesting and real life contexts  to engage students.  Your S2-S3 course looks very interesting, but  in our school we only have 1 and 1/2    periods per week in S1 and S2, in which we also need to cover Business Enterprise and ‘ICT’ as well as Computing Science.  Perhaps the answer,as we gain more experience of the Cfe Es and Os, is to integrate projects which can combine all of these.  Pupils are choosing now, in S2,  the subjects for Intermediate 1 or 2 study in S3, and in future, National 4 and 5 – we don’t know yet what the uptake is.


    I wasn’t aware of the ‘Creative Digital Media ‘ Int 1 course and have just looked it up on SQA. Is this feasible to resource in school, both in terms of software/hardware and staff CPD needs?



    Peter W Donaldson

    Hello Ann,

           you can find details of the Exploring Computer Science curriculum at


    Also if you login as a guest you will be able to download and see most of the learning activities for the following CS Principles trial courses (trialled with 1st year Uni students but designed to be delivered in the senior phase of US high schools):-


    The Beauty and Joy of Computing   You can access either the 2010 or 2011 versions of this course as a guest

    Living in a Computing World

    UC San Diaego Pilot (No snazzy name I’m afraid)


    These are aimed at pupils in the senior phase in America but they do illustrate ways in which we can incorporate Computer Science ideas into a range of contexts that pupils can relate to.


    If you want a curriculum targetted at junior and middle school pupils then the draft Scratch Curriculum would be a good starting point. You can find it at:


    Creative Digital Media does need extra resources to deliver it effectively and you will need seperate approval before your school can certify pupils as it’s not on the automatic approvals list.


    Hope this helps,


    CAS Scotland

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