Rocket League

Last week saw the culmination of almost three months’ hard work with the inaugural SJF eSports Tournament Final taking place.

Rocket League (basically football in cars!) was the tournament game of choice and almost 150 pupils from Year 7 – 13 took part.  The two finalists, Year 11’s ‘Veracity’ and Year 10’s ‘Mansfield FC’ were both on top form coming into the final with both teams not having lost a team through the group and knockout stages of the contest.

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The gathering crowds knew they were about to witness something special and both teams didn’t disappoint as each game in the best-of-three final featured some outstanding gameplay from all involved.

After two games, with each team winning one game each, the assembled masses were on the edge of their seats knowing that only one team could be victorious.  With tensions mounting (and some tempers fraying) the pressure was certainly palpable as the combatants took to the arena one last time.

After what seemed like an eternity, the mighty gladiators of Team Veracity emerged victorious, with a score line that really did not justify the incredible endeavour shown throughout by both teams.

Both finalists and losing semi finalists will now make the long journey to London where Veracity will take on the best of what other UK schools have to offer in an attempt to be crowned the first ever UK eSports School Champions.

But what is esports?

eSports is an evolution of multiplayer gaming. It is the practice of playing video games competitively. Players perform either solo or in teams (depending on the game) and winners are awarded prizes; which for the world’s best can reach into the millions. Professional arenas and live tournaments are organised, with thousands attending to watch live matches and millions following a live stream online.

What does this have to do with education?

The event is designed to engage and inspire students with computing technology and the creative digital sector using a medium and a platform that they are already very familiar with. By using the medium of games, students are introduced to and given insight into a new world of career opportunities developing in the UK. In addition, students are very much at the forefront of the entire tournament, with many taking on the responsibility of organising much of the regional heats.

The teamwork and collaboration required to play the game along with the strategic thinking required to win the game, provides creative links to help develop computational thinking skills. The game itself is a strong hook for further cross-curricular computing opportunities and ongoing work. We want the participants to think beyond the enjoyment of the game, to the people who have utilised their expertise in computing and creative technology to successfully build a game that is enjoyed by millions globally.

From encouraging students to engage with education to careers education, and cross-curricular creative computing lessons, to planting the seed of alternative career paths, eSports is a cutting edge and highly motivating educational experience for all those involved with it.

Every pupil involved in every team has behaved impeccably throughout the entire tournament.  An amazing amount of sportsmanship has been shown throughout and it has been a joy for me to be a part of an event like this, allowing pupils of all ages to participate in the same event.

Roll on next year!

St John Fisher becomes a Digital Schoolhouse!


St John Fisher has been selected to be one of 19 schools throughout the UK to be a part of the prestigious Digital Schoolhouse Project as it rolls out its national programme.

The project is designed to get primary students enthused and engaged by Computer Science and their teachers prepared for delivering this exciting subject in their own schools.

At St John Fisher we are offering local primary school staff and pupil workshops designed to enable pupils to succeed and staff to deliver this essential curriculum area. The best part, thanks to the new Digital Schoolhouse partnership with PlayStation – these are free to all!

Every Monday, from 11.00am until 3.20pm, we will open its doors to our community of primary staff and pupils and a dedicated Computer Science teacher will be available to help support them. Our lead teacher can also be seconded to visit and deliver at individual schools, if that best suits teachers and learners.

This may be by taking a class and delivering a workshop to initially engage pupils or delivering INSET to staff to guide them through the minefield of teaching Computer Science at KS1 and 2 and boost their skills and confidence in this area.

A pre-workshop visit can also be arranged (and is encouraged!) to allow staff to be involved in the planning and delivery of workshops so that a bespoke experience is in place that truly matches the needs of everybody involved.

If you are a local primary school teacher and would like to discuss booking a workshop, INSET session or visit, or would just like more information about the Digital Schoolhouse project, please do not hesitate to contact our lead teacher for more information at

The lead teacher for the project is Mark Ward, a highly experienced teacher and self-confessed Computer Science geek, who has been involved in teaching Computer Science in one form or another for the past 16 years. He is both a Raspberry Pi and Apple Certified Educator and has delivered seminars at education conferences including the BETT conference and the Education and Technology conference, on changing from an ICT to Computer Science curriculum. He has also written on this subject for numerous education magazines and websites.


This year’s Desktop Background Challenge goes to Mina Flanagan 8I.  Well done Mina!

We had some fantastic entries this year and thank you to everyone who took part in the competition.  We’ll change the background ready for September.

Runner Up – Kacper Lubisz.


Desktop Background Challenge






Hi everyone!

Our desktop background is complaining a little and us IT guys are really starting to get a bit bored of its complaining!

So we have decided to replace the background and we came up with an idea for you guys to make our new background for us!

Apart from a few rules of what we’d like to see on the image, you’re welcome to take some artistic licence!

The deadline for submission is Friday 10th July 2015, finalists will be drawn the following week and will be reviewed by the ICT Support team and guest judges

The winning image will be set as the desktop background for the next school year!

To submit your image, please attach it to an email and send it to


1. Resolution must be 1024×768

2. Incorporate the school logo, you are welcome to update the image to a higher resolution however it must match the current logo we have and also the school motto should feature somewhere on the background

3. Must have “St John Fisher Catholic Voluntary Academy” featured in the image

4. Must fit with the school ethos

We look forward to seeing your submissions!

Spot the difference…

What’s the difference between Computer Science and ICT?

After speaking to Year 9 today about their option choices for next year, one thing that I felt needed a bit more time was to give more detail on the differences between Computer Science and ICT.

It’s not unusual for these two terms to be confused, and in fact, there is a lot of overlap between them. A person in either discipline will be familiar with most common computer programs and be very ‘tech savvy’ in general. The difference comes down to the focus of each discipline.

Computer Science is focused on creating new applications for computers. This means that computer scientists must have a deeper understanding of computers, algorithms, programming languages, theory and so on.

Information and communications technology focuses on how to best employ the programs out there. This means that information and communication technology professionals need to know about existing applications, how they interact, how they are best used and how to troubleshoot problems between them.

Again, this is not to say that a computer scientist won’t know how to troubleshoot two conflicting programs or that an ICT professional won’t know how to program. However, each type of professional has a different focus.

It is a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s not incorrect to say that computer scientists focus on building programs, while ICT professionals focus on running them.

You can have a more in-depth discussion about this with your ICT (or should that be Computer Science?) teacher, and for Year 9 pupils and their parents/carers, there will be further opportunity to speak to us next Thursday evening.

New Year, New Challenges – Become a Microsoft World Champion!

Have you completed any of the Microsoft Office Specialist units? If so, you will have noticed before you start the exam that you will automatically be entered into the MOS World Championships.

Those with the highest exam score, achieved in the fastest times, will initially win a trip to Anaheim, where they will compete against other high achievers from across the world to be crowned the Microsoft Office Specialist World Champion.

If you have already passed an exam, you can resit it to improve your score and speed to be in with a chance. Speak to Mr Ward for more details.