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, the first school to adopt teaching the new Swift programming language, and the first school in the world to develop for Microsoft HoloLens. 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.
Code Cadets Launchpad
Year 7 — 9 students have the opportunity to join our co-curricular Code Cadets Launchpad programme. The group meets one afternoon each week to learn new and exciting skills beyond what's taught in the IT and software development courses offered in the curriculum. The programme is changed and updated each year to keep pace with developments in technology - and in previous years, students have developed mods for Minecraft using the Python programming language and also develop 3D games using Unity. 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 7 Digital Technologies
Year 7 students study Digital Technologies as one of their core subjects. This course follows the Australian Curriculum Digital Technologies sylllabus and teaches students the foundational skills of computational thinking, problem solving, and how to effectively use digital and information systems. As part of this course, all students will learn how to design and develop algorithms along with implementing these algorithms in Python to solve basic programming challenges. This course is usually spread over two years, but we have implemented this as a one-year course — allowing students who would like to continue studying IT the opportunity to choose one of our specialised elective software development courses from Year 8.
Year 8 Web Design and App Development
Year 9 Mobile Application Development
Year 9 students may choose our Mobile Application Development course as part of their academic elective subject choices. This year-long course focuses on learning app development for mobile platforms, with a primary focus on iOS using the Swift programming language in concert with the vast number of frameworks including SpriteKit, SceneKit, and ARKit. This is not an introductory course, so completion of the Year 8 course, or similar prior programming experience, is required so that students have the requisite level of knowledge for this course.
Year 10 students may choose our brand new Emerging Technologies course (available in 2020) as part of their academic elective subject choices. This year long course focuses on developing on cutting-edge platforms and technologies, including virtual and augmented reality (such as Vive, Oculus, and HoloLens) and also experimenting with machine learning (including Amazon Machine Learning, CoreML, and Tensorflow). Given the advanced nature of this course, prior programming experience is required — either through completing previous IT or Code Cadets courses at the school or having equivalent programming knowledge.
HSC Software Design and Development
Year 11 and 12 students following the Higher School Certificate (HSC) pathway may choose Software Design and Development as one of their courses. This academic subject teaches students the theory behind software development, particularly the various different approaches towards software development along with exploring problem-solving techniques, algorithm development, and how to effectively design software. This is a software development focused course and recommended for students who are considering studying a technical computing-based degree (such as software engineering or computer science) at university.
IB Computer Science
Year 11 and 12 students following the International Baccalaureate (IB) pathway may choose Computer Science as one of their courses, which we offer at both the SL and HL levels. This subject also covers software development, in less detail than HSC Software Design and Development, but instead more broadly covers other areas of computing such as networking and web design. The IB Computer Science course is good for students who may wish to pursue a less software-focused degree at university (such as information technology or information systems).
Code Cadets Extension
Year 10 to 12 students who are studying IT subjects, or have prior programming experience, may apply to join the Code Cadets Extension group who meet after school on Fridays — where they can complete enrichment tasks and hack on personal projects in a semi-structured and more informal environment with expert tuition and support. This group is also our flagship group that represents the School in external competitions, such as GovHack, BSides Canberra CTF, and ProgComp. The group's reputation across the years for their amazing achievements, some of which are outlined on this website, finds them often invited to special events and receive advanced training from our industry partners.
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
9th in State, Mark Glanville (out of 1860 students)
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 2017 Higher School Certificate, 67% of our Software Design and Development students achieved a result in Band 6 (the highest mark band) compared with 12% of the State.
Additionally, 92% of the class were in Bands 5 and 6, compared with 34% 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.
IB Computer Science results are not available, as the first year we will offer this course in Year 12 is 2020.
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 2018 and we were privileged to visit Amazon, Apple, Australian Federal Police, Elastic, Facebook, Google, LA District Attorney's Office, Microsoft, Mozilla, NetApp, Oracle, Palantir, Qantas, ServiceNow, Space Systems/Loral (SSL), This Week in Tech, Unity, and the SF Landing Pad.
Check out all the fun and adventure in our trip video.
Several of our students, who study Swift programming and iOS app development, have been awarded scholarships to attend the prestigious Apple Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco.
Two of our students were awarded scholarships to WWDC 2018, following the success of five being awarded scholarships to WWDC 2017 (out of ten in Australia), two being awarded scholarships to WWDC 2016 (out of eight in Australia), and three being awarded scholarships to WWDC 2015 (out of six in Australia).
350 student scholarships are offered worldwide to all schools and universities, and it is a highly competitive process. To apply for the scholarship, applicants have to develop an app in the Swift programming language, using the latest Apple technologies, to showcase their skills.
The Code Cadets have been heavily engaged in this important space for the past two years, particularly in competitive hacking — known as Capture the Flag (CTF) competitions.
In 2018, the Code Cadets won 3rd place in the BSides Canberra Capture the Flag competition (against 185 teams), being also the only school-aged competitors — building on their success at BSides Canberra 2017 where they ranked 4th in the CTF. The Code Cadets are now provided with specialised training from Ionize, a Canberra-based cyber security security firm.
Canberra Grammar School has been a long-time participant in GovHack since 2012. In this open competition, which primarily attracts professional developers, participants have 48 hours to create projects using open government data.
This is one of the many 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 12 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
"Code Cadets has provided me with amazing opportunities over the past six years, including a trip to Silicon Valley, GovHack wins, a scholarship to Apple's WWDC 2016, and a scholarship at CGS for Year 11 and 12 in recognition of my interest in technology."
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. From 2014 through to today we have been experimenting with full immersion VR experiences through Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, and was the first school in Australia to have access to the new Oculus Go. We also have incredible capabilities with aerial UAV platforms – being the only school in Australia with a CASA RPA Operators Certificate to commercially operate heavy UAVs.
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.
Bleeding Edge Projects
While others are on the cutting edge, we're always on the bleeding edge. We provide our students and school with the opportunity to engage in exciting, meaningful, and relevant projects involving the latest tech.
In 2017 we partnered with the University of Canberra, Pearson, and Microsoft to conduct a world-first trial of Microsoft HoloLens in education. There were only four trials in the world, and Canberra Grammar School is the only trial in Australia and the only school in the world.
We are also involved in research concerning spatial reasoning more generally, through virtual reality technology (Oculus and HTC Vive) and 360-degree camera systems.
Year 8 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
"I am really looking forward to developing my programming skills in Code Cadets this year. My experience so far includes wins in the past two Young ICT Explorers events. I have made a head start learning Python and Swift, and I am excited about the possibility of building iOS apps."
Never Stop Hacking
To foster and encourage the community of students who are interested and passionate about technology we often run special social events, including end-of-term pizza and movie nights, weekly lunchtime coding get-togethers, and the occasional trip to the cinema for tech-related films.
We also encourage our students to "never stop hacking" on projects and often have short, medium, and long term programming and other tech challenges for our students to work on:
there's always more to learn and more room to grow, two things innovation couldn't possibly work without. For all our sakes — never stop hacking – Startup Vitamins.
In addition to the extension opportunities available, we also endeavour to take class excursions 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.
The reputation of our Code Cadets often precede the group, and we are very fortunate to have many companies reaching-out to us and generously offering visits and access to learn about their industry, technology, and culture.
Year 12 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 8)
"Code Cadets has provided me with the opportunity to take my programming skills further and learn much more, with events like GovHack along with exciting projects — at the moment we are learning development for Microsoft HoloLens using Unity and C#."
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.
Projects have included an iPhone app allowing staff and students to easily find rooms at the school, and a live online results system for our sports carnivals.
Year 11 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
"Being able to collaborate and work with friends who are also passionate about technology is one of the most enjoyable aspects of Code Cadets...along with working with cutting-edge technologies, something I couldn't do anywhere else."
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.
- 2017 – Winner, Best Youth Team (ACT)
- 2017 – Winner, Best 3D Data Experience (ACT)
- 2017 – Winner, Best VR or AR Experience on Mobile (ACT)
- 2016 – Runner Up, Best Youth Team (National)
- 2016 – Winner, Best in ACT
- 2016 – Winner, Best Youth Team in ACT
- 2016 – Winner, Youth Spirit of GovHack Award ACT
- 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
- 2016 – Year 9 & 10, First Place: Rescue Maze 2016
- 2016 – Year 9 & 10, Second Place: Bleep
- 2016 – Year 9 & 10, Third Place: Rest Insured
- 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
- 2018 – Dylan Turner
- 2018 – William Loughton
- 2017 – Jack Carey
- 2017 – George Dan
- 2017 – Joseph Fergusson
- 2017 – Marcus Gellel
- 2017 – Zack Noyes
- 2016 – Damian Camilleri
- 2016 – Jaxon Kneipp
- 2015 – Ben Maliel
- 2015 – Deepan Kumar
- 2015 – Christopher Seidl
Other major awards and achievements
- 2018 – Third Place: BSides Canberra CTF: Code Cadets Alpha
- 2018 – Eighth Place: BSides Canberra CTF: Code Cadets Charlie
- 2018 – Ninth Place: BSides Canberra CTF: Code Cadets Delta
- 2017 – National Computer Science School, Attendee: Jack Carey
- 2017 – Fourth Place: BSides Canberra CTF
- 2017 – National Computer Science School, Attendee: Damian Camilleri
- 2017 – National Computer Science School, Attendee: George Dan
- 2016 – ACT iAwards Secondary School Category, Winner: Vege Out Australia
- 2015 – ACT iAwards Secondary School Category, Winner: Reduce Your Emissions
- 2015 – Partner School of the AISNSW STEM Funding Program
Meet the team.
Learn more about the team who run the Code Cadets and computing programmes.
Mr Matthew Purcell
Head of Digital Innovation
Mr Matthew Purcell 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 IT curriculum. In 2017, he was named an Apple Distinguished Educator in recognition of his work in teaching coding.
Matt currently teaches the Year 7 to 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 along with contributing to open source projects. He has won several 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. In 2018 he also qualified to participate in the F8 hackathon and was flown by Facebook to participate at the annual Facebook Developers Conference in Silicon Valley.
Matt is also a fully CASA licensed UAV pilot and operator, holding a Remote Pilots Licence, Remote Operators Certificate, and an Aircraft Radio Operator Certificate.
Mr Matthew Pham
Software Development Teacher
Mr Matthew Pham joined Canberra Grammar School at the beginning of 2018, having been a teacher since 2012. His main area of teaching is IT and he is responsible for developing the Year 7 Digital Technologies curriculum and the 2019 IB Computer Science course, whilst providing support to other Senior School IT programmes, particularly Web Design and Application Development.
Matt currently teaches the Year 7 to 9 IT courses and helps coordinate and manage the Code Cadets.
He began his teaching career at St Francis Xavier College in 2012, and shortly after created, wrote, and implemented a brand new curriculum for all Senior IT BSSS Courses. The courses have received exemplary recognition on several occasions from other Senior IT teachers within the ACT.
During his time at SFXC he also worked with the other IT teachers to develop and enhance the junior IT courses and lay the foundations of a highly regarded robotics program. He spent significant hours volunteering with RoboCup Junior Australia, to enhance education in IT by making robotics more accessible within the school, across the ACT, nationally and internationally. In 2017, he received an Australia Day Achievement Medallion, in recognition of being a leading educator of IT and Robotics.
Before pursuing a career in teaching, Matt spent 5 years as an IT professional within the Australian Public Service.
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.
Captain of IT and Code Cadets
Damian first discovered the wide realm of IT when curious about how the family computer worked. After diagnosing that the problem with it was that it had been taken apart, his passion for software development grew. Ever since he has been a member of the Code Cadets from his first year at CGS.
Damian has used the opportunities which the Code Cadets has brought to participate in hackathons, including GovHack and HACT, as well as other ventures such as Young ICT Explorers and the BSides Canberra hacking conference. Damian also attended the 2015 San Francisco and Silicon Valley tour, was selected by Apple as a WWDC Scholar in 2016, and is currently studying Software Design and Development for his HSC.
Outside of school, Damian enjoys listening to music, orienteering, and morning walks through Canberra’s surrounding bush.
Vice-Captain of IT and Code Cadets
Sam joined the Code Cadets in Year 8 and is currently studying Software Design and Development for his HSC. Since joining, he has participated in many competitions and events, winning Best ACT Youth Hacker Team in GovHack 2017, and working on a varied array of projects including HoloElements for the Microsoft HoloLens, and Parkachu, a safety focused companion for Pokemon Go developed at GovHack. Sam also attended the 2018 San Francisco and Silicon Valley Tour.
He enjoys programming in Node.js and PHP and has produced a number of software solutions currently used by the school, including a scoreboard system for the Athletics and Swimming Carnivals. Sam has also developed applications for iOS in Swift and Windows using Visual Basic.NET.
Outside of school, Sam enjoys developing side-projects on his Raspberry Pi and playing hockey in the CGS First XI.
Vice-Captain of IT and Code Cadets
Joseph’s first exposure to programming was at a young age through batch scripts on Windows XP, nearly 10 years ago. Since moving to Canberra Grammar School, he has been involved in a number of school related ventures — from teaching students Visual Basic in Year 6, to his involvement with the development of HoloElements for the Microsoft Hololens.
He has participated in many competitions both in and outside of school, and represented Australia in Robocup Rescue in 2016 and 2017. He was also fortunate enough to be selected as a Apple WWDC Scholar in 2017. Joseph is currently studying Software Design and Development in the HSC, and attended the 2018 San Francisco and Silicon Valley Tour.
Outside of school, Joseph enjoys writing C#, playing hockey in the CGS First XI, playing Xbox games, and creative writing.
Vice-Captain of IT and Code Cadets
Robin started IT and Code Cadets in Year 9 and is currently studying Software Design and Development for his HSC. He has enjoyed learning and growing his skills, now sharing these with younger students through his leadership role. Robin also attended the 2018 San Francisco and Silicon Valley Tour.
He has participated in many hackathons and competitions, such as HS.HACT, Young ICT Explorers, and GovHack — where his team won Best ACT Youth Hacker Team in GovHack 2017. He was also a member of the student team which developed HoloElements for Microsoft HoloLens, available on the Microsoft Store and featured in Microsoft's Learn What's Next keynote event from New York.
Outside of school, Robin enjoys listening to music, playing tennis, photography, and mountain biking.
Code Cadets Tutor
Alex is currently studying a Bachelor of Software Engineering at the Australian National University, after graduating from Canberra Grammar School in 2015.
He joined the Code Cadets program in its first year — all the way back in 2011. It was simply known as the "iOS Development Group" with about 15 students meeting up on Sunday evenings for pizza and discussions about their progress learning iOS development. In 2015, he went with the Code Cadets on their third tour to San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Alex attributes his passion and interest in programming to the Code Cadets and IT / Software Development classes through Years 9 — 12 at CGS. Having never attempted programming before joining the original Code Cadets, he thinks he may never of discovered a passion in the field had it not been for the opportunity to try it out in his younger years.
Code Cadets Tutor
Josh graduated from Canberra Grammar school in 2015 and is currently studying a Bachelor of Engineering (Mechatronics) / Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) at the Australian National University.
He was heavily involved in the Code Cadets programme as a student and participated in numerous hackathons including HACT where his team Juxtr received the Youth Entrepreneur Prize for their app Bottled. In 2015, he went with the Code Cadets on their tour of San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
At the moment, Josh is working with a fellow University student to develop an accelerated payment programme for release within Australia, something commonplace in the United States. In his spare time, Josh enjoys tinkering with computer hardware and collecting vinyl records as an escape from his constant immersion with technology.
Code Cadets Tutor
Alex first became interested in software development when taking the Year 9 Web Development course at CGS, and followed his interest right through to Year 12 studying Software Design and Development for his HSC. As a graduate of the CGS Class of 2015, he also went on the 2015 Code Cadets Silicon Valley tour, which cemented a desire to stay in the field of software and technology in the future.
Alex is currently studying a Bachelor of Advanced Computing at the ANU, with interests in pursuing fields such as cryptography in later years.
He believes that without the opportunity of getting into programming at CGS during his high school years this is not a field that he would have considered for future study.
Code Cadets Tutor
Sam discovered his passion for IT through the programs offered at CGS. He has been involved with the Code Cadets since 2013 as a student at the school and attended the 2015 Silicon Valley tour, before graduating at the end of 2015. Sam has participated in hackathons, including GovHack and HACT, as a part of team Juxtr.
Sam is currently studying Software Engineering at ANU and working on other projects outside of study. His main focus is iOS development in Swift and he has a number of apps in the works.
Outside of work and study Sam enjoys listening to music, playing guitar, travelling, and the outdoors.
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