Science

Curriculum Intention

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 has 15 teachers with a range of Science specialisms and a supporting team of 3 technicians. Our 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.

Curriculum Implementation

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 in which they need to demonstrate competence, so that they can progress to their GCSE courses with a sound level of proficiency.

Topics studied in Year 7 :

Biology

Chemistry

Physics

Introductory topic on Scientific skills and Health and safety

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 Electromagnets

Skeletal & Muscular Systems

Mixtures

Heating and Cooling

Genetics and Evolution

Earth Science

Electromagnetic Spectrum

Topics currently studied in year 9:

Biology

Chemistry

Physics

Photosynthesis

Chemical reactions 2

Energy & Electricity

Gas exchange and cellular respiration

Earth Science 2

Advanced forces, Pressure & Moments                 

Assessment:

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 term 1

Short tests at the end of each topic in term 1

Topic-based tests at the end of terms 1 and 2

End-of-year exam in term 3

Topic-based tests at the start of each term

End-of-year exam in term 3

Topic based tests at the start and end of term 1

End-of-Key-Stage exams early in term 2

First GCSE topic tests in term 3

Groupings

Year 7: students are set in mixed ability groups on entry. 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 thresholds for progress. 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 thresholds for progress. 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, which had their first exams 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

 

Assessment

Written examinations: 6 exams, each 1 hour 15 minutes (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 significant additional content, indicated in the “including” sections below.

Year                 

Biology

Chemistry

Physics

9

Cell Biology including culturing microorganisms

Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table including development of the model of the atom, properties of transition metals

Energy

 

Organisation

Bonding, structures and the properties of matter including bulk and surface properties including nanoparticles

Electricity including static electricity

10

Infection and response including monoclonal antibodies, plant disease

Quantitative Chemistry including yield and atom economy, using concentrations of solutions, amount of substance in relation to volumes of gases

Particle model of matter including pressure in gases, increasing the pressure of a gas

 

Bioenergetics

Chemical Changes including 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 Changes including chemical cells and fuel cells

Forces including moments, levers and gears, pressure in fluids, changes in momentum

11

Inheritance, variation and evolution including 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

Waves including 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 Chemistry including reactions of alkenes and alcohols, synthetic and naturally occurring polymers

Magnetism and electromagnetism including loudspeakers, induced potential, transformers and the national grid

   

Chemical analysis including identification of ions by chemical and spectroscopic measurements

Space physics, including red shift

   

Chemistry of the atmosphere

 
   

Using resources including using materials, the Haber process and use of NPK fertilisers

 

Assessment

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

(All 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

Revision guides

Revision guides and workbooks

 

Practice past exam papers

 

Links to useful websites on Moodle

 

Further practice question papers

 

Access to online Kerboodle resources

 

GCSE Pod

During the year we 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 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 for the past 4 years with teams of year 7-9 students 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 had opportunities to join in trips to the National Space Centre in Leicester and the Big Bang Fair in Birmingham. Other events are hosted in school with visiting presenters including 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.

Skills for Success and Career Opportunities

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.

Contact the Head of Department

Contact Mrs L Taylor, Head of Science