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Search and sort algorithms

CP230 Face to face course

An understanding of algorithms is fundamental to success in GCSE computer science this course will teach you how algorithms manipulate data to achieve desired aims.

Key stage 3 Key stage 4
Face to face course 1 day
  • Remote delivered CPD 30 April—4 May 2020


An understanding of algorithms is fundamental to success in GCSE computer science. To reach their full potential, students of GCSE computer science need to be confident in using decomposition and abstraction to solve problems.

Explore how each of the core search and sort algorithms function; exploring how they manipulate data structures and compare the relative efficiency of different methods.

Who is it for?

This course is for current or prospective teachers of GCSE computer science who have some understanding of computer science principles.

Prior knowledge

You’ll need to understand the basic building blocks of algorithms, and how they are represented in pseudocode and flowcharts. If you’re looking for support with these topics, we recommend the Representing algorithms course.

If you are entirely new to computer science, we recommend first participating in our one-day course, An introduction to algorithms, programming and data in GCSE computer science.

  • Course units
    • 01 | Tracing algorithms – learn how to effectively trace algorithms to understand how they work and whether they can be improved.
    • 02 | Search algorithms – search algorithms allow you to retrieve data stored within a data structure, this session explores different search algorithms including binary and linear searches.
    • 03 | Sort algorithms – sort algorithms arrange data into a sequential order. This session explores how bubble, merge and insertion sorts work.

How will you learn?

You’ll engage with active learning in groups including direct instruction, hands-on activities and challenge-based learning. Examination practice with guidance linked to the specific requirements of the main awarding bodies. The course will model teaching approaches that can be taken back to the classroom.

How long is the course?

This is a one-day course which consists of five hours of teaching time.

Recommended next steps

This course forms part of the Computer Science Accelerator Programme. To learn how algorithms are implemented as computer programs we recommended the one-day course, Python programming constructs: sequencing, selection and iteration, delivered by your local Computing Hub, or the online course, Programming 101: An Introduction to Python for Educators.

You will:

  • Learn how algorithms manipulate data to achieve desired aims.
  • Be able to hand-trace algorithms and debug them.
  • Know the difference between different sort and search algorithms.
  • Evaluate the suitability for different algorithms depending on the data to which they are applied.

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