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.
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 from Scratch (literally!). Students then move into Python programming followed by designing and coding mods for Minecraft in Python. The programme climaxes at the end of Year 8 with an introduction to Swift and iOS app development. 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, algorithm development, 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.
Code Cadets Extension
Year 7 to 12 students who are studying IT subjects, or have prior programming experience, are welcome to join the Code Cadets Extension group who meet after school on Fridays. This provides an opportunity to complete enrichment tasks and work on personal projects in a semi-structured and more informal environment. Students often use this time to prepare for competitions (such as GovHack and Young ICT Explorers), work on apps they have been developing, and to chat and collaborate with like-minded peers. As an example, the 2017 Code Cadets Extension group kicked-off with learning development for augmented reality with Microsoft HoloLens.
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 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.
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.
Five of our students were awarded scholarships to WWDC 2017 — following the success of 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.
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 and award-winning 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 ACT iAwards Secondary School category).
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 11 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
WWDC 2016 Scholar
2017 Peter Hazlehurst Scholar for Science and Technology
"Code Cadets has provided me with amazing opportunities over the past four years, including a trip to Silicon Valley, GovHack wins, Young ICT Explorers 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. 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.
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.
For 2017, we have partnered with the University of Canberra, Pearson UK, and Microsoft to conduct a world-first trial of Microsoft HoloLens in education. There are 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 7 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."
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.
Also, new for 2016, was a 12-hour overnight Capture the Flag (CTF) competition. In this infosec-based competition, teams of students had to solve computer security problems to gain points — the topics included SQL injection, code injection, authentication, captcha, Wi-Fi networks, and Bluetooth.
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.
In 2017 we also took our Year 11 students to the BSides Canberra security and hacking conference — where we placed 4th in the highly competitive Capture the Flag competition against professional security consultants.
Year 11 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 9)
ACT Youth Spirit of GovHack 2016 Winner
"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 during 2016 have included an iPad sign-in system for School reception and an iPhone app allowing staff and students to easily find rooms at the school.
Year 10 Student, Code Cadet (Since Year 7)
WWDC 2017 Scholar
YICTE Winner, Smart Mailbox — as seen on 60 Minutes
"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.
- 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
- 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
- 2017 – Fourth Place: BSides Canberra CTF Competition
- 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
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. In 2017, he was named an Apple Distinguished Educator in recognition of his work in teaching coding.
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 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.
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 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.
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
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 most recent 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.
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
Andy is in his final year of Engineering (Electrical & Communication Systems) at the Australian National University after graduating CGS in 2013.
He was involved in the first group of Code Cadets in 2011 when the program was just a small group of students meeting every weekend, collaborating with each other on their understanding of iOS development. He was also fortunate to attend the first Code Cadets tour of San Francisco and Silicon Valley in 2012 where he, along with another student and Mr Purcell, gave a talk on the Code Cadets program at the Macworld Conference.
As part of his final year project, Andy is currently involved with the Australian National Universities solar car project (Sol Invictus) for the Bridgestone World Solar Car Challenge in 2017. He is involved in the controls side of the vehicle which include all the drivers controls as well as the cruise control for the vehicle.
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.
Student Mentor Team
Our students have a long-standing tradition of contributing back to the Code Cadets and computing programmes at the school, helping younger students with their journey towards learning coding.
Our Year 10 students volunteer their time to assist in the Year 7 and 8 Code Cadets sessions after school. Our Year 11 and 12 students take a more overarching role in helping to administer the Code Cadets programme, along with staffing our weekly IT Tutorials where students studying IT as part of their academic coursework can seek additional one-on-one and individualised help.
Check out our blog.
We write about stuff that we do.