Pupils in Year 7 are taught science as one subject by a single teacher. From Year 8 upwards classes are taught biology, physics and chemistry separately. We broadly follow the National Curriculum for science, but do not feel constrained to limit ourselves to its content. Groups are taught in their forms, which are mixed ability, up to Year 9 and are then placed into science sets for Year 10 and Year 11 based on their abilities. Even though controlled assessment is being phased out, we still carry out full scientific investigations in order to develop the girls as thinking scientists.
Key Stage 3: Years 7- 8
Pupils study a range of topics including cells, forces, acids and bases, reproduction, electricity and atomic structure. There is a good balance between theoretical and practical work and the small group sizes ensure that pupils learn and follow the correct safety procedures. Pupils are encouraged to develop an understanding of the ‘scientific method’ of investigating problems, whereby one factor is varied, others controlled and the results measured. End of unit tests are used to inform pupils, parents and staff of the progress being made by each pupil during the year.
Key Stage 4: Years 9 – 11
The Key Stage 4 curriculum is started in Year 9 to allow plenty of time to complete the work required to achieve high grades at GCSE. We study for the suite of GCSEs produced by the examination board AQA, which will follow the 9-1 grading system. This suite comprises GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry, GCSE Physics (collectively known as the separate science GCSEs) and GCSE Double Science. The latter is a double GCSE, for which two grades are awarded. The specification is made up of biology, chemistry and physics topics. In Years 10 and 11, the top set will study for the three separate science GCSEs, whilst other sets will study for GCSE Double Science. In Year 9, topics that are common to both routes will be taught. Pupils will be set for Year 10 based on the end of year examination in Year 9 and teachers’ assessment of the pupils’ abilities.
There is no coursework or controlled assessment for these GCSEs. There are, however, a number of compulsory practical activities to be completed during the course. These will be carried out during normal lessons or during the Year 9 biology field trip, which is carried out in the summer term. All assessment for the GCSEs is by final examination in Year 11. Some questions will ask about the compulsory practical activities carried out during the course.
Key Stage 5: AS and A level
AS and A level courses are offered in all three sciences and the science department is proud of the very good results achieved by pupils. Practical work is a key component of all courses together with an emphasis on ‘How Science Works’. There are compulsory practical activities during the course and these are assessed. Whilst the assessment does not form part of the final A level grade given, pupils are awarded a Practical Endorsement on their A level certificates if they carry out the compulsory practical activities and associated written work to an acceptable standard.
We run a science club during Science Week in the spring term. Where there is demand, this is extended to offer a weekly science club. Trips are organised to outside venues and events, which have included the ‘Big Bang’ at the NEC and the Space Centre at Leicester. All pupils attend a residential biology field course in Shropshire in Year 9 and A Level pupils attend a further field trip, usually to Snowdonia. On occasions we have entered pupils for national competitions such as the Chemical Olympics