Department Overview

The Science faculty at Alderbrook consists of 13 teachers and 3 technicians who work together to offer students learning experiences that will stimulate the natural curiosity we all have about ourselves and our world. The science staff have a variety of backgrounds with different science subject specialisms and experience including working in scientific research and industry. What we all share is a passion for our subject and a desire to stretch the imaginations of the students as they develop both their knowledge and understanding of key scientific ideas, and the transferrable skills they need to learn and communicate their understanding effectively.

inset_science3We aim for our students to

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics;
  • develop their understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through practical science enquiries that help them answer scientific questions about the world around them;
  • acquire the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science today and for the future;
  • become confident, independent learners, using and improving a range of practical and transferrable skills to make progress towards challenging targets.

Science permeates our lives and informs our actions. Every one of us, whether a poet or a nuclear physicist has to be able to think scientifically and understand some science to get through our everyday life. We face daily decisions that hinge on science, such as how to maintain a healthy lifestyle, how we can reduce energy wastage and why we need to do this, and which of the latest technological devices and consumer products we are enticed to buy will really improve our busy schedules. In science lessons at Alderbrook we encourage students to think like scientists, asking them how things work or why things happen the way they do. We expect them to pose questions and as teachers, we try to model for them the inquisitive mind that seeks to understand how and why. We regularly refer to science news in the media so that students connect ideas from lessons to current developments, increasing their awareness of the role of science in our society. The concept of “how science works” runs through lessons in all years – this is the basis of science where you start with an idea, devise a way to test and prove or disprove your idea, draw conclusions, evaluate your findings and decide the next steps. Learning to follow this process helps students to comprehend how we have reached our current levels of scientific understanding, it trains them to think logically, to spot links between evidence and theory, and critically evaluate information they encounter. By its hands-on nature, science readily appeals to students, offering them so much to explore. In our lessons we set out to sustain the students’ natural curiosity so that they are eager to learn the subject content, and thereby promote a love of learning that extends across all of their subjects.

We have high expectations for our students’ performance in external examinations, and we are proud of the excellent results they achieve, which are testament to the dedication and commitment of students and staff and the support from parents.

 

Facilities and Resources

The science faculty teaching room accommodation comprises nine laboratories and one small ICT room located in a suite. All of the labs have interactive whiteboards and ample access to a wide range of practical equipment and amenities (gas, electricity, water). The faculty is well resourced with textbooks at both key stages as well as extensive online video and interactive resources for students and staff to support teaching and learning both within lessons and for extra-curricular support. We are continually reviewing and improving our range of resources to meet the differing needs and preferred learning styles of our students to enable them to succeed in their current and future learning.

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Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3 all students follow the National Curriculum through a series of subject-based topics that incorporate the ideas and terminology of “How Science Works”. (See introduction or the students planners for more information on this.)

The curriculum is changing, with a new Programme of Study for Science introduced in September 2014 which is in place for the current year 7 & 8 this year and as they progress through year 9. The topics studied in year 9 will be adjusted over the next year to take these changes into account – this explains why some topics below may appear in more than one year group as they show what the current Y7 and 9 are studying.

Topics studied in year 7 :

Scientific skills

Health and safety

Biology Chemistry Physics
Cells and organisation Particles Sound
Reproduction The Periodic Table Forces
Relationships in ecosystems Chemical Reactions Space

 

Topics currently studied in year 8 :

Biology Chemistry Physics
Nutrition and digestion Periodic Table Electromagnetic Spectrum
Genetics Evolution Mixtures Heating & Cooling
Skeletal & Muscular Systems Earth Science Magnets and electromagnets

 

Topics currently studied in year 9:

Biology Chemistry Physics
Photsynthesis Patterns of reactivity Advanced forces
Respiration & Breathing Pressure & Moments
In Summer term the first GCSE Core Science topics are studied Energy & Electricity

inset_science3Assessment:

Students are being assessed continually in lessons as they complete tasks and take part in individual or joint activities, and through homework in order to guage their understanding and readiness to move on.

More formal tests and exams are carried out at different points for each year groups to monitor progress and inform our planning for the following topics.

Year 7

Topic-based tests at the end of each term

Interim exam during Spring term

End-of-year exam in Summer term.

Year 8 (current)

Topic-based tests at the end of each term

Interim exam in autumn term

End-of-year exam in Summer term

 

Year 9 (current)

Topic based tests at the end of each topic

Interim exams in autumn and spring terms

End-of-Key-Stage exams early in Summer term

First GCSE topic tests in summer term.

 

Groupings

Year 7 : students are set in broad ability groups, based on performance at KS2. Movements between groups mainly occur at the end of terms following analysis of performance in tests and other assessments during the term.

Year 8 : students are set in ability groups based on their performance in year 7 assessments and their potential from KS2 data as reflected in their personal target levels. Movement between groups mainly occurs at the end of terms.

Year 9 : students are set in ability groups based on their performance in year 8 and their potential from KS2 as reflected in their personal target levels. In summer term, following the End-of-Key-Stage-3 exams, students are partly re-grouped to begin their GCSE courses, before final re-grouping for the start of Year 10.

 

Key Stage 4

At Key Stage 4 students currently study different courses, with the vast majority leading to 2 or 3 GCSEs. The KS4 Science curriculum and GCSE exams are changing from September 2016 so the information here will be subject to change with the publication of the new curriculum and subsequent new exam specifications. New material will be introduced while some content has been moved into the new Key Stage 3 or will be removed altogether. The breakdown of assessment and the grading system will also change as a result of the government’s recommendations. We will update the information as changes are finalised.

Currently students begin their GCSE Science courses in the Summer term of year 9, with most students completing Core Science in Year 10 and the rest of their GCSE(s) in Year 11. From Sept 2016, all GCSE exams become fully linear with all assessment at the end of year 11.

There are currently 4 main routes and this will continue until September 2016

  1. 3 GCSEs (Triple Science)
    1. Core Science, Additional Science and Further Additional Science
    2. OR
    3. Biology, Chemistry and Physics (Separate Sciences)
    4. (both routes study the same content; the assessment timings and the way the final grades are calculated are different – see below the course descriptions)
  2. inset_science22 GCSEs (Double “combined” Science)
    1. Core Science and Additional Science
    2. This is will change from 2016 to only 2 routes – Triple separate sciences or Double Combined Science only, with all assessment at the end of year 11 and no controlled assessment.

 

Topics Studied – this is dependent on the route and courses taken

 

Core Science (and separate science units 1)

Biology Chemistry Physics
Diet and exercise Limestone Heat transfer
Hormones and the nervous system Metals Energy
Drugs Crude oil Using electricity
Feeding relationships Fuels Efficiency
Adaptation and competition Plant oils Electricity generation
Waste and decay Earth Chemistry Waves
Genetic variation Origins of the universe
Evolution

 

Assessment

Written examinations : 3 exams worth 25% each (75% total)

Controlled assessment : 1 (25%)

(Exams are taken at the end of Year 10 except separate science students who sit all exams at the end of Year 11)

Additional Science (and separate science units 2)

 

Biology Chemistry Physics
Cells, tissues and organs Structures and bonding Forces and motion
Photosynthesis Quantitative chemistry Electrical circuits
Proteins (enzymes) Analytical chemistry Mains electricity
Aerobic and anaerobic respiration Rates of reaction Radioactivity
Inheritance and genetics Exothermic / endothermic reactions Nuclear fission and fusion
Speciation reactions
 Acids and bases
 Electrolysis

 

Assessment

Written examinations : 3 exams worth 25% each (75% total)

Controlled assessment : 1 (25%)

(Exams are taken at the end of Year 11)

 

Further Additional Science (and separate science units 3)

 

Biology Chemistry Physics
Transport in cells The Periodic table Medical physics
Transport in plants and animals Water Moments
Heart and circulation Energy changes Circular motion
Homeostasis and kidneys Ammonia The motor effect
Humans and their environment Alcohols and Esters Transformers

 

Assessment

Written examinations : 3 exams worth 25% each (75% total)

Controlled assessment : 1 (25%)

(Exams are taken at the end of Year 11)

 

Groupings

At Key Stage 4 students are set in ability groups within their courses, based on their performance at Key Stage 3 and their potential as reflected in their personal target grades.

 

Extra-Curricular Opportunities

We offer a range of support for students both in school and for helping independent study at home.

Key Stage 3 Key Stage 4
Weekly drop-in sessions Revision sessions
Revision guides Pre-exam revision classes
Revision guides and workbooks
Course summary notes on Moodle
Practice exam papers on Moodle
Links to useful websites on Moodle
Access to online Kerboodle resources
GCSE Pod

 

During the year we try to offer opportunities to inspire and stretch the imaginations of our students beyond the curriculum, so we attend or organise a range of enrichment and enhancement activities and events. We take small groups to Science talks and competitions at Birmingham University as part of their Raising aspirations programme, and to the Big Bang fair in Birmingham. We have joined other local schools in events including “Skirting Science”, aiming to attract more girls into science, and run master classes for year 6 pupils from feeder primary schools. Other events are hosted in school with visiting presenters including the “Ever Wondered Why Roadshow” presented by the Institute of Physics, “Hot and Cold” demonstration lectures from Birmingham University schools’ liaison team and Chemistry demonstrations by Nick Barker from Warwick University. We also run internal competitions to coincide with National events eg. National Science and Engineering Week in March.

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Career Options

The  GCSE courses we offer at Alderbrook prepare students for a range of post-16 science courses including A levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics and Applied Science, and science-linked vocational courses. The broad and balanced content of the GCSE courses provides a sound base of knowledge, and also the transferrable skills required by real scientists in their work and so highly regarded by employers in many fields. These include: an ability to approach problems in an analytical and logical way; an ability to work methodically and accurately; a high degree of numeracy; and the skill to communicate information effectively.

Studying science beyond GCSE gives students access to a wide variety of career opportunities, both in scientific industries and in scientific research in diverse areas including Medicine, Dentistry, Chemical Engineering, Forensics, Environmental Science, Genetics, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Engineering, Biomedicine, Astronomy, Electronics, Environmental Health, Biophysics, Metallurgy, Food and Textiles science, Meteorology, Nursing, Education. Science graduates are also extremely attractive to employers in non-science fields because of their high levels of analytical skill, excellent problem-solving and decision-making, team work, data handling and computing which are relevant to a wide range of graduate careers.

If they do not intend studying science beyond GCSE, students will still find that for most A level courses schools and colleges usually expect students to have a GCSE level science qualification along with English and Maths.

So whatever a student’s career plans – or if they are still undecided where their future lies – their science qualifications are important in securing their next steps in education or training after Alderbrook.

 

For further information, please contact

Mrs E Reid, Director of Teaching and Learning, Science

Mrs H Gray, Assistant Director of Teaching and learning, Science