Computing & Code Cadets
Modern. Relevant. Ready for the world.
Canberra Grammar School offers cutting-edge opportunities for students to learn, explore, and apply their skills towards computing and digital technologies.
Ready for the world.
We strive to keep our offerings modern and relevant in the fast-moving world of technological change. We were the first school in Australia to teach iOS application development as part of our formal academic curriculum, and also the first school to adopt teaching the new Swift programming language. So, whether this be teaching the latest in mobile development, the latest web-standards, or working on open-source projects and contributing back to the community, we constantly update and keep our programmes on the cutting-edge of technology.
Something for everyone.
No programming experience? No problem! Our courses are suitable for students of all technical abilities who, most importantly, have a desire and passion to learn. Students with no prior experience in computer programming will learn the basics before moving into more advanced concepts. For those students with existing experience, extension activities and opportunities are available to teach advanced skills and also challenge these students with exciting activities and problems.
Year 7 and 8 Code Cadets
Year 7 and 8 students have the opportunity to join our co-curricular Junior Code Cadets programme. The group meets one afternoon each week to learn the basics of programming, starting with the Python language. Students then move into more advanced programming topics, including designing and coding mods for Minecraft and learning C++ to program Arduino to develop Internet of Things (IoT) devices. This is a completely introductory programme so no prior knowledge of programming is needed or expected. For those students with prior experience, an extension / advanced stream is available to further extend their knowledge.
Year 9 Web Design and App Development
Year 10 iOS App Development
Year 10 students may choose the iOS App Development course as part of their academic elective subject choices. This year long course focuses on learning app development for iOS using the Swift programming language, the iOS SDK, and Xcode. Each student will also undertake a major app development assignment and should have at least one app on the iOS App Store by the conclusion of the course. Given the advanced nature of this course, prior programming experience or completion of the Year 9 course is required so that students have the requisite level of knowledge for this course.
HSC Software Design and Development
Year 11 and 12 students may choose Software Design and Development as one of their courses for the Higher School Certificate (HSC). This academic subject teaches students the theory behind software development, particularly the various different approaches towards software development along with exploring problem-solving techniques and how to effectively design software. This subject is particularly relevant and useful for students who are considering studying a computing-based degree (such as IT, computer science, or software engineering) at university.
Year 9 to 12 Senior Code Cadets
Enrichment and Extension
Year 9 to 12 students who are studying IT subjects are welcome to join the Senior Code Cadets group who meet after school on Fridays. This provides an opportunity to complete additional enrichment tasks and work on personal projects in a semi-structured and more informal environment.
Students often use this time to work on projects for competitions (such as Young ICT Explorers), work on apps they have been developing, and to chat and collaborate with like-minded peers.
Our courses provide continuity from when students first enter the Senior School in Year 7 right through to the conclusion of their studies in Year 12.
The programmes are sequenced and structured not only to be engaging, relevant, and fun, but also to help ensure that our students receive the best possible results in Year 12.
We have a long-standing and established track record of delivering excellent results for those students who choose to study Software Design and Development for their Higher School Certificate.
Software Design and Development
State Place Honour Roll
7th in State, James Treloar (out of 1805 students)
6th in State, Alastair Barnett (out of 1737 students)
7th in State, Lochie Ferrier (out of 1737 students)
5th in State, George Rayns (out of 1632 students)
2nd in State, Adam Chyb (out of 1471 students)
2nd in State, Angus Gibson (out of 1760 students)
1st in State, James Bornholt (out of 1726 students)
In the 2015 Higher School Certificate, 75% of our Software Design and Development students achieved a result in Band 6 (the highest mark band) compared with 8% of the State.
Additionally, 92% of the class were in the top 10% of the State, and 100% were in the top 25% of the State.
* Note, the "State" refers to New South Wales, as Canberra Grammar School is the only school in the ACT to complete the NSW Higher School Certificate.
In the classroom we teach our students the skills which are demanded outside of the classroom.
Read about the unique opportunities which we offer our students to apply their skills in the real-world.
San Francisco and Silicon Valley Tour
One of our most exciting opportunities is our tour of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. This two week trip provides our students with inside access to many of the largest and most well-known technology companies in the world, providing a unique opportunity to visit, experience, and learn from leaders and pioneers.
As far as we are aware, we are the only school in the world which provides a trip with such exclusive access into these companies with the opportunity to meet and speak with senior executives, managers, and engineers. It is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Our most recent trip was in January 2015 and we were privileged to visit Apple, August, Boeing, eBay, Cisco, Computer History Museum, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Mozilla, NetApp, Netflix, New Relic, PayPal, Pebble, Qualcomm, Square, StartupHouse, and This Week in Tech.
Check out all the fun and adventure in our trip video...
Year 10 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
WWDC 2016 Scholar
"Last year I visited Silicon Valley for two weeks, won a category in Young ICT Explorers, participated in GovHack, and even met the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to demonstrate my projects!"
Several of our Year 10 students have been awarded scholarships to attend the prestigious Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco — with three of our students awarded scholarships to WWDC 2015, and two awarded scholarships to WWDC 2016.
350 scholarships are offered worldwide to all schools and universities, and it is a highly competitive process.
To apply for the scholarship, applicants had to develop an iOS, tvOS, watchOS, or Mac app incorporating the latest in Apple developer technologies.
Canberra Grammar School has been a long-time participant in the GovHack competition since 2012. In this open competition, which primarily attracts professional developers, participants have 48 hours to create new apps, mashups, and visualisations using open government data.
This is one of the opportunities we provide our students to apply their skills within a professional context, through participating in this industry-level competition.
Our students are certainly up to the task, having won and placed in many local and national GovHack categories across the years.
Year 10 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
WWDC 2016 Scholar
"The thing I enjoy the most is having the freedom, facilities, and support to work on personal projects and also collaborate with others. So far I have two apps on the iOS App Store, two apps on the Pebble Store, with even more in the pipeline."
Young ICT Explorers
Canberra Grammar School have been enthusiastic participants in the Young ICT Explorers competition since its introduction into Canberra in 2014.
Each year our students have built a variety of innovative products. Past winning projects include a smart letterbox based upon the Intel Galileo microcontroller board, a native Firefox OS app to help people in developing nations find clean drinking water, and a web app to help reduce your carbon footprint (which went on to win the 2015 Canberra iAwards Secondary School category).
In addition to the extension opportunities available for students, we also endeavour to take class excursions each year allowing all our students to hear from authoritative experts in the field.
However, these are no normal excursions. We secure inside access into the local branches of major international technology companies. Past excursions include visiting Google, NetApp, and Microsoft in Sydney for the day.
In 2015 we also took our winning GovHack teams to the invitation-only GovHack International Red Carpet Awards at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.
Year 8 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
"I have really enjoyed learning how to program. When I started Code Cadets in Year 7 I had never done any programming before, but now I know Python and have continued to learn new and interesting things."
The Latest Tech
In early 2013 we acquired early access to one of the first Google Glass units, allowing us to explore augmented reality app development. In late 2014 we got an Oculus Rift DK2, taking us one step further towards exploring full immersion virtual reality. And in 2015 we received a $10,000 grant to introduce drone programming into our programmes and courses.
We believe that it is critical to provide our students with opportunities to explore the latest technologies – so they have a well-rounded and considered opinion about potential future directions and trends in the industry.
Having the latest tech is one thing, but doing cool projects with the technology is even more important.
Our students frequently get to apply their skills towards fun, exploratory projects at the School. One example is coordinating the filming of School events from drones, in collaboration with CASA approved UAV operators, to provide a unique and usually unseen perspective on School life.
Year 8 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
"It's great fun learning programming with my friends. This year we have started learning C++ to program Arduino NodeMCU development boards — making IoT devices with full wireless capabilities!"
hack: (noun) a clever solution to a problem
We are always encouraging our students to come up with clever and creative solutions to problems, particularly where the solution involves using technology. To foster and develop this mindset we hold several events throughout each year with a focus on the concept of hacking — in the productive, not destructive, sense of the word.
During CGS Hack Week we let our students loose to work on solutions to things at the School which could be improved through technology. Staff and fellow students submit ideas, and then our students spend the week hacking together solutions. The best solutions are given resourcing to make them a reality and have them implemented at the School.
Canberra Grammar School Code Cadets and computing students have won many awards in both school-based and industry-based competitions.
Have a look at a few of our awards below.
- 2015 – Winner, Best Use of Air Conditioner and Energy Data
- 2015 – Runner Up, Best Youth Team
- 2015 – Highly Commended, Best Youth Team
- 2015 – Winner, Best Use of Geoscience Australia Data
- 2015 – Highly Commended, Best Use of Geoscience Australia Data
- 2015 – Highly Commended, Best Science Hack
- 2014 – Winner, Best School Team
- 2014 – Winner, Young Digital Canberra Entrepreneur
- 2013 – Runner Up, Spirit of GovHack Award
- 2013 – Honourable Mention, Most Useful App for Canberrans
- 2013 – Honourable Mention, Best use of dataACT
- 2013 – Winner, Best Student Project
- 2013 – Winner, Best Canberra Centenary Hack
- 2012 – Winner, Spirit of GovHack Award
- 2015 – Year 9 & 10, Second Place: WaterWhere
- 2015 – Year 9 & 10, Third Place: epicerie
- 2015 – Year 9 & 10, Merit Award: Earth Scan
- 2015 – Year 7 & 8, First Place: Mail Alert
- 2015 – Year 7 & 8, Third Place (aeq): Code Helper
- 2015 – Year 7 & 8, Third Place (aeq): Survival
- 2015 – Year 7 & 8, Merit Award: Pet Care
- 2014 – Year 9 & 10, First Place: Geburtstag
- 2014 – Year 7 & 8, First Place: Reduce Your Emissions
- 2014 – Year 7 & 8, Second Place (aeq): Code Clinic
- 2014 – Year 7 & 8, Second Place (aeq): Tech>How
- 2014 – Year 7 & 8, Third Place (aeq): Class Timetable
- 2014 – Year 7 & 8, Third Place (aeq): Crunch
- 2014 – People Choice Award, Winner: Crunch
Other notable awards and achievements
- 2015 – ACT iAwards Secondary School Category, Winner: Reduce Your Emissions
- 2015 – Partner School of the AISNSW STEM Funding Program
Meet the teachers.
Learn a bit more about the teachers who run the Code Cadets and computing programmes.
Mr Matthew Purcell
Head of Digital Innovation
Matt has been teaching at Canberra Grammar School since 2008. He is the Head of Digital Innovation, responsible for the Senior School IT programmes along with many of the curricular and co-curricular digital technology initiatives at the School, including organising the San Francisco and Silicon Valley tour.
He founded and established the Code Cadets group in 2011, and one year later created, wrote, and implemented the School's brand new Year 9 and 10 IT curriculum with the Year 9 Web Design and App Development and Year 10 iOS App Development courses.
Matt currently teaches the Year 9 and 10 courses, along with Year 11 and 12 Software Design and Development, and has overall management of the Code Cadets groups.
When not teaching, Matt enjoys coding and developing software, and has won many major hackathons and programming competitions — including a major national category in GovHack 2015, three categories in Govhack 2014, and the $10,000 first prize in hack::Brisbane 2012 for his iOS app Bike Brisbane.
Mr Ben Hegarty
Software Development Teacher
For the past 6 years, Ben has been working in the online learning industry as a software developer and project manager. He has recently come on board at Canberra Grammar School to oversee the Junior and Intermediate Code Cadets programmes and teach Year 9 IT.
He is an experienced web developer with a strong knowledge of the latest web technologies and frameworks, but also has experience with circuit board design, microprocessor development and robotics.
Ben currently has a few side projects in the works including automating everything in his house, an automated camera system for action sports and an online gaming platform.
Mr Andrew Gray
Software Development and Mathematics Teacher
Andrew Gray has been teaching since 1999 and has been at CGS since 2005. As well as teaching Software Design and Development to Year 11 and Year 12 students, he has also taught Mathematics to all year levels. He is an experienced Senior Marker of Software Design and Development in the HSC, and has presented sessions at Computing Studies Teachers’ meetings. Andrew has been fortunate to accompany Mr Purcell and Canberra Grammar School students on the Silicon Valley tours over recent years.