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How Fire Tech’s Python course supports GCSE computer science

Today we asked Dave Ames, one of our full-time curriculum developers to answer a question we get a lot – how does our Teen Coding with Python course dovetail with the GCSEs?  Here’s what he had to say:

All of the GCSE Computer Science Specifications require the student to complete a substantial programming project (15-20 hours) solving a problem. This does not contribute directly to the marks for the final grade, but is compulsory. The skills acquired whilst the student solves the task and works through the problem, are tested in one of the written exams, usually through the use of programming problems set using pseudocode. These test the ability of students to debug, trace values, spot logical errors and predict what the code will do in advance of running it.

The content of our Python 1 course goes beyond the level expected of students at GCSE and covers content all the way up to the second half of the A Level Computer Science specification’s year-long programming project. During the first three days of Python 1, we cover everything that is required at GCSE, including common programming constructs such as Sequencing, Selection and Iteration, as well as modularising code so that it is more flexible, reusable and maintainable. Beyond this we introduce the students to Object-Oriented Programming, getting them to create their own classes including those with complex, inheritance relationships and how to install and interact with third-party libraries.

Students who complete all five days of the week-long Python course will have a thorough grounding in all of the programming aspects of Computer Science that take them beyond those that are assessed at GCSE:

  • They will have solved moderately complex programming problems, independently.
  • They will have decomposed these problems into smaller sub-problems and devised programs to solve these smaller problems. Reintegrating the problems into a coherent whole to solve the overall problem.
  • They will have learnt to debug their programs in a variety of ways.
  • They will be introduced to the comprehensive Python Help Documentation as well as other major sources of helpful information, such as StackOverflow.

Useful links to continue their learning journey include:

We have Python running as the full five day course, a weekend course and several shorter formats (2 day, 3 day).  We also have Python and Electronics for younger students and Python 2 as a follow on for those that have done the main course. We often get 50%+ girls in our Python course – and we are testing some new online resources that you will get access to free with your Python course!

Author: Dave

Dave Ames is one of Fire Tech's full-time curriculum developers. He was previously a teacher for 20+ years, is a passionate coder and an expert on all things education related.