The science department is fortunate to have a team of nineteen science specialist teachers housed in well equipped science laboratories all fitted with interactive whiteboards and data projectors, supported by an excellent technical team.
Academic results are outstanding, particularly at A-level. Many students go on to study scientific courses at university including medical sciences, dentistry, veterinary science and engineering.
The curriculum includes the understanding of basic scientific concepts, plus Biology, Chemistry, and Physics and ‘How Science Works’ - a course designed to enhance the understanding how scientific research and studies are carried out and the impact of science on society.
Learning is enhanced by a rich and varied array of extra-curricular activities. There is a Science Club, the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry, and Olympiad competitions to stretch the highest scientific flyers! The school has also developed strong links with the Royal Vet College, University College London and Imperial College that have led to work experience placements, guest speakers and visits. We run a series of Science Society Lectures throughout the year, details of which can be found on the school calendar.
Key Stage 3
In Key Stage 3 students have three hours of science a week with one teacher in Year 7 before splitting between Biology, Chemistry and Physics teachers in Years 8 and 9. They are offered an enriching curriculum that covers a wide range of scientific concepts as well equipping them with practical and investigative skills that prepares them to meet the demands of higher level courses and life beyond school. There is an important emphasis on ‘How Science Works’ - the impact of science on society and how research is carried out and scrutinised to ensure it is valid.
Key Stage 4
There are two GCSE courses available – Triple science (three GCSEs) and Core and Additional Science (two GCSEs). Both specifications are AQA courses and cover topics from Biology, Chemistry and Physics as well as ‘How Science works’. GCSE unit exams are taken in Year 10 and 11 and Investigative Skills Assessments (ISA) take place in school time throughout the two years. The majority of students choose to study Triple science GCSE as all students who are level 6 and above at Key Stage 3 are entitled to select this course.
Key Stage 5
Biology, Chemistry and Physics A-level courses are offered in the 6th form.
Biology is a fascinating subject which provides a strong foundation for a wide range of science and humanities based disciplines. It is a broad-based subject ranging from cells to individuals to populations; from the fundamentals of life and inheritance to the newer technologies of genetic engineering and biotechnology; from biochemistry to ecosystems.
Biology is a popular subject in the 6th form, attracting enough students to make four teaching groups in each year. Students follow the AQA course; at AS and A Level it is divided into topics covering key biological concepts and applications. There are many practical opportunities within the taught course of which some are chosen to assess skills towards the coursework element. Students will also have to complete assessed practical work which contributes towards 20% of their grade. There are opportunities to be stretched by participating in the NIMR essay competition and their practical competitions as well as the Biology Olympiad.
In 2009 twenty students took part in a Biology trip to Indonesia where they were involved in a forest mapping project, joining scientists studying herpetofauna, civets, bats, and tarsiers. See photos below:
The department follows the AQA specification which is traditional in style, but offers ample opportunity for experimental work. The AS and A2 courses extend and develop the key ideas from GCSE Chemistry and introduce modern concepts. The emphasis of the syllabus is on the relevance of the subject to everyday life and it is therefore an interesting and dynamic course. The A2 course is a more advanced treatment of the ideas studied at AS, building on earlier concepts. There are practical ISA coursework assessments as well as two unit exams each year that contribute to the final grade.
There are usually four or five A-level groups in each 6th form year group and a significant number of students take part in enrichment activities such as the various competitions set by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Students follow the OCR B Advancing Physics A-level, a course that is developed and endorsed by the Institution of Physics. The specification covers classical mechanics, theoretical physics and applications of physics within communication and imaging systems. Students undertake research projects, presentations and practical investigations which help to develop their communication and independent thinking skills as well as contributing towards their final grades alongside the exam papers.
Students are encouraged to participate in the Headstart courses at the end of Year 12, which provide tasters at universities in science and engineering subjects. A visit to CERN, the European Centre for Particle Physics in Geneva takes place most years. Students can also challenge themselves through the Physics Olympiad with the aim of representing Great Britain in the International Physics Olympiad which has been achieved twice in recent years.
Mr M Jays (Head of Science)
Lia Commissar (Head of Biology)
Bernard Davies (Head of Chemistry)
Simon Poliakoff (Head of Physics and AST (Advanced Skills Teacher))
Further information for current students and parents can be found on the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment). Log-in via the link above, click on Departments, then Science. Parents are reminded that they share log-in and password details with their child.
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