The Downs School has excellent ICT provision including 12 fully equipped ICT suites and specialist facilities in the Library and subject areas. We provide an internally managed enterprise level network, supporting over 500 computers throughout the school.

Students throughout the school are encouraged to make full use of their ICT skills across the whole school curriculum wherever appropriate. ICT is an integral part of modern life and work enhancing research, presentation, visual, audio experiences as well as organisation and analysis. Many of our students take an active interest in current developments in the ICT industry and study daily ICT news and business items.

There is also an after-school Computing Club where students, with support from staff, can develop skills in their own chosen areas of ICT. In the ICT Department itself, discrete ICT is delivered to Years 7, 8 and 9 – building upon and strengthening the skills and experiences gained during their formative education.

Key Stage 3

At Year 7, units include: Presentation, eSafety, Graphics, Spreadsheet modelling, Podcasts and Programming.

At Year 8, units include: Web development, Graphics, Further Spreadsheet modelling, Animation.

At Year 9, units include: Flash Programming, Advanced Spreadsheets, Databases, Video editing.


GCSE ICT is offered as an option in years 10 and 11. The subject covers two units which are assessed by controlled assessment (worth 60%) and an exam (worth 40%).

Unit 1: Living in the Digital World

Students will explore how digital technology impacts on the lives of individuals, organisations and society. Students learn about current and emerging digital technologies and the issues raised by their use in a range of contexts (learning and earning, leisure, shopping and money management, health and well-being, on the move). They will develop awareness of the risks that are inherent in using ICT and the features of safe, secure and responsible practice.

Unit 2: Using Digital Tools

Through the practical elements of the course, students will broaden and enhance their ICT skills and capability. Students work with a range of digital tools and techniques to produce effective ICT solutions in a range of contexts. Students learn to reflect critically on their own and others’ use of ICT and to adopt safe, secure and responsible practice. They will put into practice what they have learned about digital technology in Unit 1.

Subject link to the examination board:


A Level

The 'A' level in Applied ICT is run in the Sixth Form. This is an exciting and up-to-date course from Edexcel which is totally equivalent with other 'A' levels and carries the same university points. It is more heavily weighted towards coursework than exams. One of our previous year 13 students on the 'A' level Applied IT course has created a video to provide you with some additional information (may take a short time to load).

The AS consists of three units which are equally weighted with regards to assessment:

Unit 1- Life in the Information Age

Students will learn how ICT enables people to access and exchange information and to carry out transactions anytime, anywhere. Students take a critical look at the impact that the internet has had on the way people conduct their personal and professional lives, explore the services it offers and gain ‘hands-on’ experience of using some of them. Your investigation and evaluation of all these aspects of the age in which you live will be presented in the form of an e-book designed to be read on a computer screen.

Unit 2 – The Digital Economy

Students will investigate how organisations are responding to the pressures of the e-marketplace by using transactional websites to: present their products and services, gather information and provide a personalised service. Students will perform an in-depth investigation into the design of such a website and the back-office processes. Students will also develop their database skills to the task of storing and analysing data.

Unit 3 – The Knowledge Worker

Students will develop skills as a knowledge worker by learning how to use spreadsheet models to investigate alternatives and answer ‘what-if’ questions. The formulae in these models will allow students to try out some of the possible alternatives that they have identified. Together with information from other sources, students will use the outcome of the models to inform their decision making. This unit is assessed via a two-and-a-half hour practical examination.

The Advanced GCE (A2) consists of a further three units which are again equally weighted with regards to assessment:

Unit 7 – Using Database Software

Students will develop knowledge of, and skills in using, databases further. Students will learn the principles of data modelling and sound database design, and will use relational database software to build working database systems capable of storing large quantities of data and of handling both routine and one-off requests for information. This unit is assessed via a ten hour practical examination.

Unit 8 – Managing ICT Projects

This unit will introduce students to some formal project management tools and methods and give them an opportunity to use specialist software to plan and monitor projects. Students will be able to put into practice what they have learnt by setting up and running a small-scale software project. The knowledge and skills developed in this unit are particularly relevant to those who use ICT on a daily basis at work or at school/college for personal, social and work-related purposes.

Unit 10 – Using Multimedia Software

The work for this unit will culminate in the design, development and testing of an interactive multimedia product for a specified target audience. Students will already have gained experience of some of the ICT tools and techniques needed to develop a multimedia product. In this unit students will increase their understanding of the features and possibilities of these and other tools to combine them to produce well-designed multimedia products that communicate ideas effectively.

A Level subject link to the examination board:  


BTEC Level 2 First Diploma in Information Technology

Some students choose to study the Edexcel BTEC level 2 Diploma which is equivalent to four GCSE's at A* to C grades. For 10 hours a week, students will study a range of exciting and relevant topics that cover the Key Stage 4 Programme of Study. Students will develop a range of skills and techniques, personal skills and attributes essential for successful performance in working life.

This is the core part of a 1 year vocational course which integrates with aspects of employment skills, money management, First Aid and customer service and includes integral work experience.

Recommended text books, revision guides and reference book

Level 2 CNAT 978-1510457201

BTEC subject link to the examination board:


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