Department Overview

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 scientific enquiry runs through lessons in all years – this is the basis of science where you start with an idea, review theories, devise a way to test and prove or disprove your hypothesis, estimate risks, analyse patterns, discuss limitations, construct explanations, evaluate your findings, communicate your ideas 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. As they study the subject content, students have opportunities to devise analyse patterns and discuss limitations of data, communicate their ideas and justify opinions. 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 develop their enquiry skills to gain mastery of both, and thereby promote a love of learning that extends across all of their subjects.


Facilities and Resources

The science faculty teaching accommodation comprises ten fully equipped laboratories. All of the labs have interactive whiteboards and access to a wide range of practical equipment and amenities. The faculty is well resourced with textbooks at all key stages as well as 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.



Key Stage 3

At Key Stage 3 all students follow the National Curriculum through a series of subject-based topics that are aligned with the AQA KS3 Science Syllabus. The framework ensures students study the content and processes they need to demonstrate competence in, so that they can progress to their GCSE courses with a level of proficiency.


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 Magnets and Elecromagnets
Skeletal & Muscular Systems Mixtures Heating and Cooling
Genetics and Evolution Earth Science Electromagnetic Spectrum


Topics currently studied in year 9:

Biology Chemistry Physics
Photsynthesis Chemical reactions 2 Energy & Electricity
Gas exchange and cellular respiration Earth Science 2 Advanced forces, Pressure & Moments


Students are being assessed continually in lessons as they complete tasks, work independently or collaboratively in order to gauge their understanding and readiness to move on. Activities to help consolidate or extend lesson topics are set for independent study.


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


Year 7 Year 8 Year 9
Early baseline test in Autumn term 

Topic-based tests at the end of each term


End-of-year exam in Summer term


Topic-based tests at the end of each term 

Interim exam in Spring term


End-of-year exam in Summer term


Topic based tests at the start and end of the first term 

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


First GCSE topic tests in summer term



Year 7 : students are set in mixed ability groups on entry. During the Spring term students may be grouped into broad ability bands. Movement between groups mainly occurs 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 Spring term, following the End-of-Key-Stage-3 exams, students are 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 study AQA GCSE Science courses. These are the new Grade 9-1 GCSE courses, with the first exams taken in Summer 2018. Most students take GCSE Combined Science (a two-year course covering Biology, Chemistry and Physics, worth two GCSEs), while some students study three separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

The qualifications are linear, meaning that students sit all their exams at the end of the course (in May/June of Year 11)

Currently students begin their GCSE Science courses in the Spring term of year 9.


Topics Studied

Combined Science


Year Biology Chemistry Physics
9 Cell Biology Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table Energy
Organisation Bonding, structures and the properties of matter Electricity
10 Infection and response Quantitative Chemistry Particle model of matter
Bioenergetics Chemical Changes Atomic structure
Homeostasis and response Energy Changes Forces
11 Inheritance, variation and evolution The rate and extent of chemical change Waves
Ecology Organic Chemistry Magnetism and electromagnetism
Chemical analysis
Chemistry of the atmosphere
Using resources


Written examinations : 6 exams, each  1 hour 15minutes (worth 16.7% each)

(All exams are taken at the end of Year 11)


Separate Sciences: 

Topics are the same as Combined Science but studied to a greater depth with additional content



Year Biology Chemistry Physics
9 Cell BiologyIncluding culturing microorganisms Atomic Structure and the Periodic TableIncluding development of the model of the atom, properties of transition metals, Energy
Organisation Bonding, structures and the properties of matterIncluding bulk and surface properties including nanoparticles, ElectricityIncluding static electricity
10 Infection and responseIncluding monoclonal antibodies, plant disease Quantitative ChemistryIncluding yield and atom economy, using concentrations of solutions, amount of substance in relation to volumes of gases, Particle model of matterIncluding pressure in gases, increasing the pressure of a gas,
Bioenergetics Chemical ChangesIncluding titrations, Atomic structure Including hazards and uses of radioactive emissions and background radiation, nuclear fission and fusion
Homeostasis and response Including the brain, the eye, control of body temperature, maintaining water and nitrogen balance, the use of hormones to treat infertility, negative feedback, plant hormones Energy ChangesIncluding chemical cells and fuel cells, ForcesIncluding moments, levers and gears, pressure in fluids, changes in momentum
11 Inheritance, variation and evolutionIncluding advantages and disadvantages of sexual and asexual reproduction, DNA structure, cloning, theory of evolution, speciation, understanding of genetics The rate and extent of chemical change WavesIncluding reflection of waves, sound waves, waves for detection and exploration, lenses, visible light, black body radiation,
EcologyIncluding decomposition, impact of environmental change, trophic levels in an ecosystem, food production, Organic ChemistryIncluding reactions of alkenes and alcohols, synthetic and naturally occurring polymers, Magnetism and electromagnetismIncluding loudspeakers, induced potential, transformers and the national grid,
Chemical analysisIncluding identification of ions by chemical and spectroscopic meas Space physics, Including red shift,
Chemistry of the atmosphere
Using resourcesIncluding using materials, the Haber process and use of NPK fertilisers



Written examinations : 6 exams, each  1 hour 45minutes (worth 16.7% each)

(All exams are taken at the end of Year 11)




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  guides and workbooks
Revision guides Practice papers
Links to useful websites on Moodle
Access to online Kerboodle resources


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, 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 “My Green Future” where students work with businesses to understand the importance of sustainability. We run classes for year 6 pupils from feeder primary schools. Year 12 and 13 students have taken part in a range of University visits and masterclasses. We have participated successfully in the Solutions for the Planet Programme with teams reaching the semi-finals at Aston University and the final in the Palace of Westminster, with one of our students being invited to judge the following year’s competition. Year 7 and 8 have opportunities to join in residential trips. Other events are hosted in school with visiting presenters including Chemistry demonstrations by Nick Barker from Warwick University and “Spectroscopy in a suitcase” from Birmingham University where students had hands-on experience of using an IR spectrometer. We also run internal competitions to coincide with National events eg. National Science and Engineering Week in March.



Skills for Success and Career Opportuntities

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, and rigorous demand 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 keen sense of commitment and perseverance; a high degree of numeracy; and the skill to communicate information and ideas 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 GCSE level science qualifications 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.


Skills that can be gained from studying Science are: Perseverence & Commitment, Effective  communication of key ideas, Analysing facts & data, making links/ reasoning & being ready for the next step and noticing details and patterns.


Contact the Head of Department

Mrs E Reid, Head of Science

Mrs M Tucker and Miss S Balding, Assistant Heads of Science