We follow the National Curriculum and students are supported and encouraged to develop their knowledge and understanding alongside their practical skills. We aim to develop students’ innate curiosity in the world around them and help them to develop a scientific method to gather the answers they want.
“Science is fun. Science is curiosity. We all have natural curiosity. Science is a process of investigating. It’s posing questions and coming up with a method. It’s delving in.” – Sally Ride
“Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.” – Psalm 111
Our curriculum cultivates pupils’ interest in and engagement with the world around them. It encourages pupils to ask questions and design a way to determine the answers in a rigorous scientific test. Pupils are guided to develop and use their understanding to solve a range of problems by applying their knowledge in unfamiliar contexts. The curriculum closely links the theoretical concepts and practical approaches so that pupils gain a comprehensive understanding of the subject. Students will learn how electricity, nuclear radiation, energy resources, forces and waves influence the world around us and how mathematics can help us analyse these phenomena. They will be guided to see how our knowledge keeps us safe and allows us to innovate and move forwards. Students will gain an understanding of cell biology, bioenergetics, infection and response, homeostasis, genetics and evolution and the significance of their Biology in their day to day lives. They will be able to make reasoned arguments about important issues such as IVF, use of vaccinations and stem cell research and confidently articulate their opinions, whilst challenging their peers’, using evidence to support their arguments. In Chemistry students will gain an understanding of atoms as the fundamental building blocks of everything along with how and why they are classified. They will investigate why substances in the world behave in the way that they do and how we can manipulate natural substances in an efficient and sustainable manner so that the Earth’s resources aren’t depleted. They will be guided to evaluate different methods of processing from mathematical and environmental perspectives; linked to this pupils will understand why reactions occur and how they can be affected in industry and nature.
Fundamental concepts in Biology, Chemistry and Physics are met in year 7 and revisited throughout the key stage to add depth and breadth to students’ understanding. Equations are introduced in year 7 and pupils are challenged to progress in years 8 and 9 by changing units for different quantities and rearranging the equations. Practical skills are introduced at the very start of year 7 so that pupils can use basic laboratory equipment safely and correctly. Difficulty then progresses as more specialised equipment is introduced and practicals progress to be multi-stage. Teamwork is promoted as pupils work successfully in groups to plan and carry out their own investigations. We build links within and between the different sciences as pupils progress throughout the key stage to enable students to develop a deep understanding.
To prepare our students thoroughly for all aspects of their assessment. Students first study the fundamental ideas in each of the sciences (cells, atoms and energy) in greater depth than at KS3, building on and returning to these throughout their GCSE studies. Teachers deliver in their own specialism to stretch, challenge and support all students. Required practicals are taught through a mix of pupil and teacher-led methods, and supported by a wider body of experiments to enable pupils to develop the skills needed to achieve success in the exams. Understanding is consolidated with the use of knowledge organisers and mini quizzes in homework booklets, so that pupils are frequently tested on small chunks of the syllabus. Revision is embedded with the use of a variety of resources and pupils are shown how to revise in lessons.
A Level: To prepare our A Level students thoroughly for all aspects of assessment. Students build on the concepts learnt at GCSE to add completely new topics in each science, and study familiar ones in greater depth. Required practicals are taught with pupils compiling their work in a lab book; pupils are taught to analyse and evaluate their results in a more mathematical way to prepare them to use similar techniques at university. Students are taught by two subject specialists for each science, and there is a focus on developing students as independent learners who complete their own studies around the subject to broaden and strengthen their understanding.
The curriculum is designed so that knowledge of key topics is developed and built upon. For example, the energy topic in year 8 builds on ideas developed in the year 7 topic of the same name. All KS3 topics are again covered in some form at GCSE, where pupils extend and broaden their understanding of the key ideas in science. Students are assessed at standardised points at the end of each topic. Wording and questions styles mirror GCSE exams, covering the three assessment objectives that pupils encounter there. This allows pupils a smooth transition to GCSE question styles and exams, so that they can focus more on the content of the curriculum and achieve success. Homework is focused on knowledge retrieval to support pupils with recall of key facts. In addition there is literacy support through use of homework booklets with knowledge organisers which contain key words and definitions for each topic. The department then places emphasis on literacy throughout by using the school COPS policy. Particular focus is given to command words in questions and the understanding of these.
The curriculum is designed so that students of all abilities are supported to achieve to their potential by using a range of activities to suit all learning styles. The nature of the support received by students depends on their personal needs and staff provide “Quality First Teaching” strategies to meet the needs of students, with additional input from Pupil Passports. Staff provide differentiated resources, including enlarged work and coloured paper, and pupils have a choice of task at different levels to encourage all students to achieve. Staff devise strategic seating plans to meet the needs of the pupils in their class and chunk the work where necessary. All text on PowerPoints and worksheets used in lessons is in a dyslexia-friendly font such as Comic Sans, Arial or Calibri. The expertise of TAs and the ARB is utilised to provide best practice, sharing ideas and discussing with TAs in lessons how they can best provide support for students.
Teaching assistants support pupils of all abilities and needs. The key strategy is to provide the “least support first” so as to enable students to build levels of independence in the subject. We believe that all students should have equal access to teaching staff, where the support of teaching assistants is well-planned and justified. Teaching assistants play a vital role across the department and are provided with clear instructions at the start of each lesson. This enables them to target specific students, based on prior knowledge and formative assessment methods, providing subsequent feedback at the end of the session.
Students take part in national competitions such as Top of the Bench (Chemistry) and the various projects of the Physics Olympiad, as well as the annual trip to the local Physics Olympics. An emphasis is placed on broadening students’ experiences beyond what they would otherwise experience outside of the school environment and therefore pupil premium students are given priority on many educational visits. This includes annual trips to the Big Bang fair and regular attendance at lectures and events which introduce pupils to a variety of career opportunities in the sciences.
At sixth form level there is a focus on seeing science in action; Physics visits are run to the nuclear physics masterclass at Daresbury laboratories and students take part in the BPhO experimental projects and AS Challenge. Biology students visit the local graveyard to extend required practical work out of the classroom and attend talks on conservation and classification at Chester Zoo to see the theories they study in action.
Cultural capital is the accumulation of knowledge, behaviours, and skills that a student can draw upon and which demonstrates their cultural awareness, knowledge and competence; it is one of the key ingredients a student will draw upon to be successful in society, their career and the world around them.
In Science, pupils are taught a great deal that will help them to be successful, well-informed individuals in the future. We develop students’ understanding of the scientific process including the principles of conducting a valid, repeatable test on a large sample, and the need for peer review when an article is published to ensure that evidence stands up to unbiased scrutiny.
Students develop the ability to conduct and follow a thorough risk assessment and their fine motor skills are developed throughout the key stages with a range of practicals. They are taught to use standard units of measurement for physical quantities and are able to convert between them.
Students are taught to see and value the science around them in their everyday lives; they study the functions and mechanisms of the human organ systems, diseases and treatments, exercise and fitness, genetic engineering, the use of fossil fuels and how to compare and evaluate the use of different energy resources, recycling and sustainability, the wiring systems used in plugs and household appliances and the cost of using electrical energy. The history and development of scientific theories is explored which reinforces the idea that theories must be supported by evidence in order to be accepted. From Ptolemy’s geocentric theory and Democritus’ atomic model through to Darwin’s theory of evolution and the Big Bang theory, pupils learn about famous scientists and how their work has contributed to improving our understanding.
Maths – strong links throughout the KS3, KS4 and KS5 courses. Line graphs and bar charts are covered in year 7 Maths and used in Science from the very start of year 7 (having been studied by pupils previously in primary school). Means are introduced in Maths in early year 7 and then used in Science throughout the key stages. Distance-time graphs are introduced in year 7 and again in year 11 at a similar time to help students reinforce and embed learning. Density and compound measures are met in Maths in year 9 and then built upon and reinforced in year 10 and 11 Physics.
PE – teaching content alongside PE at a similar time to help students reinforce and embed learning. For example year 7 skeleton and muscles, year 8 healthy diet, respiration and breathing and the cardiovascular system at GCSE.
Geography – introduce adaptations to particular ecosystems in year7 which is built on in year 8 Geography.Strong links at GCSE where renewable energy, recycling and sustainable transport are covered in year 9 and 10 Science, and similar ideas are used in year 11 Geography.
Year 5 Day activities led by Science and primary liaison sessions where primary classes are invited into the school for practical lessons over a 6 week period. This gives an informal view of the ability and prior study of pupils in primary school.
Baseline Year 7 Practical & Theory – assessment completed following initial early teaching.
To be developed in the future: members of the Science team assigned to feeder primary schools and will make contact to go in and teach a lesson during the academic year. To use this to develop links with Primary school science leads. Also, links to the year 5 summer school.
Students will be set homework via Firefly on a regular basis. The Science department homework will centre on the learning of knowledge in an effort to create a culture which sees students develop their revision skills over time.
Key stage 3
Students are issued with a knowledge organiser (homework booklet) at the start of each year which contains all the key information and activities students will need to complete. This homework is designed to test the students’ knowledge and understanding of the unit they are studying. They will use the Knowledge Organiser as a basis for their revision and will complete the mini test either as a practice on Firefly to complete in class or as an assessment on Firefly.
Key Stage 4
Key Stage 4 homework will centre around Knowledge Organiser work and extended reading around the subject. At Key Stage Four students are issued with homework booklets which contain knowledge organisers, quick quizzes, blank revision placemats and practice exam questions with mark schemes.
How the Knowledge Organiser works:
Key Stage 5
Students who study Biology, Chemistry and Physics at A Level will be expected to supplement their class work with both teacher and self-generated homework. The work set is a mixture of past exam questions, experimental project write-ups, practice calculations, research projects and revision for tests as required by the topics being studied at the time. They will be expected to: