Science

“Science and everyday life cannot and should not be separated.” Rosalind Franklin

“The important thing is not to stop questioning.” Albert Einstein

Intent

We recognise the importance of science in every aspect of daily life. As a core subject, we give the teaching and learning of science the prominence it requires.

Our scientific area of learning is concerned with increasing students’ knowledge and conceptual understanding of our world, and with developing skills associated with science as a process of enquiry, including a passion for reading and mathematical fluency. We seek to develop the natural curiosity of the student, encourage respect for living organisms and the physical environment and provide opportunities for the critical evaluation of evidence.

At each key stage our curriculum is designed to be both ambitious in its coverage and to allow all our students to access and progress in their learning.

At Key Stage 3 we believe that it is important for lessons to have a skills-based focus, and that knowledge can be taught through this. It is essential that across all three disciplines, a foundation of knowledge and skills is continually built upon, as students move through and between the key stages.

The focus at Key Stage 4 and 5 resolves around the creativity and inventiveness in setting up hypotheses and designing methods by which they can be tested objectively. This requires students reporting, evaluating and appraising experimental situations and other information in a systematic manner.

Our varied approach to learning prepares students fully for post-16 endeavours in the scientific field, allowing access to careers in science, engineering and design and technology.

Throughout the scientific courses followed at our school, moral and social implications of science are always kept at the forefront of discussions. This encourages students to appreciate the fact that science and Christian ethics are so often inextricably linked.

Implementation

Key Stage 3

In Years 7 and 8 our students follow the Activate Scheme of Work from Oxford University Press (OUP).  All classes are taught in mixed ability form groups for their first two years of science teaching.

Year 7

Our students follow the Activate 1 Scheme of Work and textbook, along with having access to Kerboodle, OUP’s online resource. After completing an introduction to scientific methodology, students cover a variety of topics from Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  They have three lessons a week, and study the following topics:

  • Working Scientifically
  • Cells
  • Particles
  • Space
  • Forces
  • Body systems
  • Elements and reactions
  • Sound and light
  • Acids and alkalis
  • Reproduction

During the year, all students will take part in a visit to Whipsnade Zoo, in anticipation of the Ecosystems module in Year 8.  They visit the discovery centre, the sea lion show and the worlds of the world display, as well as most of the large animal enclosures.

Year 8

Students study the topics shown below.  They will receive one piece of homework a week, requiring up to an hour to complete.

  • Health and lifestyle
  • Periodic table
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Ecosystems
  • Materials
  • Separating techniques
  • Energy
  • Adaptation
  • The Earth
  • Motion

The students sit an exam at the end of each module.  At the end of Year 8, they will sit a further assessment on all that they have learned.  Students are set into Year 9 based on the results in all of these assessments.

In the Spring term, Year 8 students take part in a STEM day competition (STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths).  They are taken off timetable for a day and work on a project which draws on the knowledge they have acquired and encourages them to use this learning to solve problems with their fellow team members.

Key Stage 3 – Homework

Students should spend about 45 minutes a week on homework to consolidate their in-class learning and provide independent research opportunities.

Students are tested on their learning and understanding of each unit and in a synoptic exam towards the end of the year.

GCSE Science (Year 9 – 11)

OCR GCSE Twenty First Century Science 9-1

We want all our students to attain the highest quality grades that they can.  We offer two main pathways: Separate Sciences and Combined Sciences.

OCR 21st Century Combined Sciences – 2 GCSE qualifications

The majority of Year 9, 10 and 11 students take the Combined Science course (J260), incorporating various Biology, Chemistry and Physics topics.   This is a linear qualification with 100% external assessment by examination.  There are two tiers of entry: Higher Tier, grades 4 to 9; Foundation Tier, grades 1 to 5.

Click here to see the full specification.  (https://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/gcse/twenty-first-century-science-suite-combined-science-b-j260-from-2016/)

Content is split into twenty teaching chapters:

  • Chapter B1: You and your genes
  • Chapter B2: Keeping healthy
  • Chapter B3: Living together – food and ecosystems
  • Chapter B4: Using food and controlling growth
  • Chapter B5: The human body – staying alive
  • Chapter B6: Life on Earth – past, present and future
  • Chapter C1: Air and water
  • Chapter C2: Chemical patterns
  • Chapter C3: Chemicals of the natural environment
  • Chapter C4: Material choices
  • Chapter C5: Chemical analysis
  • Chapter C6: Making useful chemicals
  • Chapter P1: Radiation and waves
  • Chapter P2: Sustainable energy
  • Chapter P3: Electric circuits
  • Chapter P4: Explaining motion
  • Chapter P5: Radioactive materials
  • Chapter P6: Matter – models and explanations
  • Chapter BCP7: Ideas about Science – incorporated into each topic.
  • Chapter BCP8: Practical Skills (within each topic).

Paper 1 assesses content B1 – B6 and BCP7 and 8
Paper 2 assesses content C1 – C6 and BCP7 and 8
Paper 3 assesses content P1 – P6 and BCP7 and 8
Paper 4 assesses all content

OCR 21st Century Biology, Chemistry & Physics – 3 GCSE qualifications

Rather than taking the Combined Science route outlined above, students who have made excellent progress in Science at KEY STAGE 3 are instead prepared for separate OCR Twenty First Century Science GCSE qualifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics B.  These are linear courses with 100% external assessment by examination, with students attaining 3 GCSEs in total.

For more details on these courses, click on the relevant link below:

Biology is J257
Chemistry is J258
Physics is J259

Content is split into twenty teaching chapters:

  • Chapter B1: You and your genes
  • Chapter B2: Keeping healthy
  • Chapter B3: Living together – food and ecosystems
  • Chapter B4: Using food and controlling growth
  • Chapter B5: The human body – staying alive
  • Chapter B6: Life on Earth – past, present and future
  • Chapter C1: Air and water
  • Chapter C2: Chemical patterns
  • Chapter C3: Chemicals of the natural environment
  • Chapter C4: Material choices
  • Chapter C5: Chemical analysis
  • Chapter C6: Making useful chemicals
  • Chapter P1: Radiation and waves
  • Chapter P2: Sustainable energy
  • Chapter P3: Electric circuits
  • Chapter P4: Explaining motion
  • Chapter P5: Radioactive materials
  • Chapter P6: Matter – models and explanations
  • Chapter BCP7: Ideas about Science – incorporated into each topic.
  • Chapter BCP8: Practical Skills (within each topic).

Homework & Science Surgery

Students are expected to spend up to 2 hours a week on their Science homework.  If they have any concerns about any element of the course, they may wish to take advantage of the support available through our Science Surgery: this is a drop-in session supervised by Sixth-Form students who will give advice on classwork or homework, or on how to revise specific aspects of the course.

Extracurricular activities

During this course, we invite a range of visiting speakers to provide students with the opportunity to find out about a variety of science-based careers.  Year 10 students will also take part in our popular Forensic Science event during the summer term.

Useful websites

gcse-science-revision/ocr-past-papers/
www.s-cool.co.uk/
YouTube Science Lessons
BBC GCSE bitesize
2018 GCSE examiner comments
isaacphysics.org
senecalearning.com
phet.colorado.edu

A-level Biology (AQA)

A-level Biology builds on the concepts and skills developed at GCSE, and is particularly suitable for students who have the skills and knowledge associated with biological and physiological concepts.   Students who study A-level Biology may go on to study medicine or a Biology-related degree course at university.

Our students follow AQA specification 2410.  For more details, click here.

Core content topics:

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Cells
  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
  5. Energy transfers in and between organisms (A-level only)
  6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments (A-level only)
  7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems (A-level only)
  8. The control of gene expression (A-level only)

Practical work is at the heart of Biology, as a rich diet of practical work is essential to develop students’ manipulative skills and understanding of the processes of scientific investigation.  It also contributes to teaching and learning of the concepts within the specification.

Students are expected to spend about 5 hours a week on private study.  3 hours will probably be spent on homework activities with the remaining 2 hours spent reading over notes and learning work in preparation for lessons.  Students are also encouraged to attend revision lectures throughout the course.

Useful websites

revisely.co.uk/alevel/biology/aqa/
studymind.co.uk/resource/aqa-a-level-biology/
https://senecalearning.com/en-GB/blog/a-level-biology-revision/

A-level Chemistry (OCR A)

Students follow OCR specification H032, H432.  For more details, click here.  This syllabus was developed in association with the Royal Society of Chemistry, GlaxoSmithKline, and Chemistry teachers. It encourages learners to:

  • develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other;
  • develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods;
  • develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem-solving skills;
  • develop their interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including developing an interest in further study and careers associated with the subject;
  • understand how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society (as exemplified in ‘How Science Works’ (HSW).

Content is split into six teaching modules:

  • Module 1 – Development of practical skills in chemistry
  • Module 2 – Foundations in chemistry
  • Module 3 – Periodic table and energy
  • Module 4 – Core organic chemistry
  • Module 5 – Physical chemistry and transition elements
  • Module 6 – Organic chemistry and analysis

Teaching of practical skills is integrated with the theoretical topics and they’re assessed both through written papers and a Practical Endorsement:

  • Component 01: Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry (37%)
  • Component 02: Synthesis and analytical techniques (37%)
  • Component 03: Unified chemistry (26%)
  • Practical Endorsement in chemistry (04): non exam assessment, reported separately

Students are expected to spend about 5 hours a week on private study, 3 hours will probably be spent on homework activities with the remaining 2 hours spent reading over notes and learning work in preparation for lessons.  Students are encouraged to apply for Work Experience Placements at a variety of science based companies such as Cancer Research UK and Glaxosmithkline.

Useful websites

A-level Physics (AQA)

Students follow the AQA Physics 7409 specification.

Physics is such a versatile subject, as it explores all aspects of the universe. The range of topics extends from nuclear physics to astrophysics and looking at the forces between them. Physics develops your analytical, problem solving and research skills which is why it is considered a facilitating subject. These are essential transferable skills for a wide range of careers such as engineering and finance.

Learning methods and assessment

In A-Level Physics there are opportunities for students to develop practical skills (for example, in choosing and using materials and equipment), practice data-handling skills (for example, estimating, presenting and analysing data) and to use their imagination (for example, suggesting an explanation).  They also learn to place Physics in a social or historical context and argue about the issues that arise.  Students also use ICT as an integral part of learning Physics.

Course content

1 Measurements and their errors
This topic will provide you with the skills needed to plan, carry out, analyse and evaluate a scientific investigation.

2 Particles and radiation
You will learn about the strange world of quantum Physics, including the Standard model of Particles, photoelectric effect and radioactive decay.

3 Waves
You will engage with practical work that will help you explaining how musical instruments produce sounds, as well as other applications of wave behaviour such as optical fibres.

4 Mechanics and materials
Discover about the different kinds of materials, their properties, and how engineers make use of this knowledge to create structures. The mechanics section of this topic guides you through the work of Galileo and Newton, explaining how motion  is related to forces and energy.

5 Electricity
You will build an in-depth understanding of how electrical circuits work , and how they can be used to control our home and industrial environments.

6 Further mechanics and thermal physics
In further mechanics, you will learn about  Simple Harmonic Motion, the Physics of Fairground rides , as well as aspects of thermodynamics related to the behaviour of gases and internal energy.

7 Fields and their consequences
You will learn about gravitational, electrical and magnetic fields. The understanding of field theory  forms the basis of most of modern technology from space exploration to electronics and energy production.

8 Nuclear physics
In this topic you will deepen your knowledge of radioactivity and its uses, including radioactive decay and nuclear energy.

9 – Optional section
Choose one from the following topics: Astrophysics, Medical Physics, Engineering Physics, and Turning points in Physics

Useful websites

isaacphysics.org
BBC Bitesize
Institute of Physics

Impact

Across the year groups, student enjoy and achieve in science.

A-level

We have seen an increase in uptake of study of sciences at A-level over the last few years.  A large number of our students continue with scientific study beyond A-levels, reading subjects regularly including Medicine, Pharmacy, Engineering and Biochemistry.  Our former students will often return to advise and inspire our current students.

Results – 2020

  • Biology 86% A*-C
  • Chemistry 100% A*-C
  • Physics 83% A*-C

GCSE

Our students’ engagement and performance at GCSE is highlighted by our increasing A-level uptake.

Results – 2020

  • Biology – 50% grades 9-8, 100% grades 9-5
  • Chemistry – 37% grades 9-8, 100% grades 9-5
  • Physics – 39% grades 9-8, 98% grades 9-5
  • Combined Science
  • 69% grades attained 2 grade 5 GCSEs or higher
  • 88% grades attained 2 grade 4 GCSEs or higher

Science & Careers@Loreto

You will find that any course related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths may involve Physics concepts at some point. Modern finance and economics use models created by physicists to predict market trends. Medicine makes use of advances in quantum and particle physics to produce imaging techniques and innovative treatments against some of the deadliest illnesses and conditions. New communication technology and advances in renewable energies are made possible by the valuable research conducted by physicists on new materials. The skills, knowledge and attitudes developed in Physics are highly regarded by employers and universities.

Want to find out more about Science work skills, then check out these infographic posters, which can also be found on the Maths corridor.