Chemistry is at the centre of everything you can see, smell, touch and taste.
Whether studying the chemistry of life, or developing the advanced science behind modern technology, chemical scientists use their expertise to improve our health, our environment and our daily lives.
What will I learn?
Chemistry is taught to all students in years 7 to 11. In year 7 chemistry is part of a combined science course covering Biology, Chemistry, Physics and scientific skills. In years 10 and 11 students are given the option of taking triple science or combined science. The AQA GCSE and A-level courses are taught.
Chemistry is the study of matter, its properties, how and why substances combine or separate to form other substances, and how substances interact with energy. Students will examine how the properties of the elements are related to their electronic structure and how this determines their position in the Periodic table. They will apply this knowledge to physical, inorganic and organic chemistry. Throughout the course they will complete a range of practical activities.
From year 7 students develop a range of skills including problem solving, teamwork, numeracy and both written and oral communication. As they progress through the school these basic skills develop into research, analytical, technical and independent study skills.
Several students each year pursue Chemistry-related degrees at university, including Oxford for Chemistry and Natural Sciences at Cambridge. Many students use their Chemistry qualification to pursue a range of disciplines including medicine, dentistry and engineering. Chemists go on to work in professional careers such as pharmaceutical industries, accountants, investment bankers, teachers and forensic scientists.
What will I do?
Chemistry lessons include a wide range of activities based around the course being followed. In all year groups practical work is a fundamental part of every topic from which scientific knowledge and understanding develop. For KS3 we follow the Cambridge secondary 1 course, the Collins AQA course for GCSE and the Oxford AQA course for A-level. Chemistry lessons include knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, scientific enquiry, and practical work and assessment tasks. Extension activities and independent learning tasks are regularly incorporated into lessons.
How much homework will I get?
Homework is set according to the school’s homework timetable for each of the year groups. Homework tasks are set to consolidate learning in the classroom and to provide students with opportunities to reinforce their knowledge and understanding of the subject.
Students receive two pieces of homework per fortnight for combined science in Year 7 and this is approximately 60 minutes in duration. In Years 8 and 9, students receive one piece of homework per fortnight which lasts approximately 60 minutes. At GCSE Level, one homework task is set per fortnight and this lasts approximately 45 minutes to one hour. For A Level, homework tasks are issued once per week. In addition students will be expected to read the textbook, complete experimental write-ups and other independent learning tasks.
Homework tasks vary according to year group and the topic studied. Homework tasks will include research, assessment, experimental write-ups and independent learning tasks.
How will I be assessed?
All students in years 7 to 13 are assessed at three points during the academic year as part of the school’s reporting and assessment, with reports issued to parents. Summative assessments in Years 7 to 11 are based on end of topic tests. Students will also participate in many active and formative assessments throughout their courses. GCSE students are also assessed in this way along with the addition of end of year 10 and year 11 mock exams. A-level students have internal year 12 exams and year 13 mock exams.
A-level students are required as part of their course to complete the Science Practical Endorsement. This qualification will give students opportunities to use relevant apparatus and techniques to develop and demonstrate specific practical skills. These skills must be assessed through a minimum of 12 identified practical activities within each qualification. To achieve a pass, students must demonstrate that they are competent in all of the practical skills listed in the subject content requirements for chemistry.
What guidance and support is available?
Students who need additional support should speak to their chemistry teacher in the first instance, as they are best placed to recommend additional resources and guidance. There is a weekly subject ambassador session which offers students the opportunity to work with chemistry ambassadors from the Sixth Form. At GCSE and A Level, teaching staff run regular revision sessions throughout the year. The department uses a range of online resources in lessons to support learning and students have access to this material at home. The department will also recommend additional resources when appropriate.
What extra-curricular opportunities are available?
The Chemistry department organises a range of activities during the academic year. Sixth form students run chemistry club for years 7 and 8. In year 8 trips to the Dorset coast take place during Activities Week. We attend the Science Live! Event in year 11, with talks by five eminent scientists, hopefully inspiring many to consider a career in science in the future. In year 12 we attend Chemistry in action, five lectures on current research and future applications in chemistry.