The Science Department consists of a large team of teaching staff, technicians and qualified, teaching assistants. Students study this core subject from Year 7, right through to Year 11. All three disciplines (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) are taught by specialised subject teachers and various pathways ensure that all students achieve success whatever route they choose.
Science is extremely popular at Key Stage 5 and there are always a substantial number of students who continue the subject into the sixth form and on to university.
Staff and facilities
The department is led by Dr M Cox. He heads a team of eleven teachers who teach across the age range, focusing on their own science specialism within Key Stages 4 and 5. Students benefit from a fully equipped set of laboratories and a practical and hands-on approach to learning. In addition, the unique outdoor learning area, known as The Acre, provides them with an outdoor, living classroom.
Our Science twitter feed keeps everybody up to speed on what’s going on in the Science Department as well as providing links to interesting features and articles and to fascinating centres of science.
In 2014 we opened our new outdoor classroom known as The Acre. The Acre is home to a flower garden including a wildlife pond, vegetables and herb areas, chickens, ducks, small animals (rabbits and guinea pigs) and two miniature donkeys. We also have other animals such as piglets, lambs and ponies on rotation to enable our students to gain a varied experience of animal husbandry.
Our annual Science Week, which takes place in the Spring Term, enables students to connect first-hand with those from the world of science. Their eyes are opened to the wealth of opportunities within the discipline and students enjoy asking questions and finding out more. Visitors have, in the past, included such people as:
- Lucy Hawking (daughter of Stephen Hawking)
- Johnny Ball
- Mike Leahy and his Zoo-bus
- Professor David Pyle from Oxford University
- Dr Bryson Gore from The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures
We are also fortunate to have scientists, eg from Salters Chemistry, who come in and give impressive and motivating demonstrations.
Lunchtime and after-school clubs
The department runs a number of weekly Science Clubs including:
- Traditional Science Club (KS3)
- ‘The Acre-Makers’ Club.
- Homework and classwork support (KS3)
- ‘Test Tube’ Tuesday (KS4)
- Drop-in sessions(KS5)
Students have access to a number of of opportunities to expand the breadth and depth of their scientific knowledge. These include opportunities for work experience placements. Notable scientific centres which regularly offer placements to our students include Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, The Nuffield Foundation, and Oxford University. Students regularly attend MEDlink and VETlink courses around the country to further their understanding of medicine as a career.
Trips are a strong element of the Science Department and students gain knowledge and extend their interest through these. We regularly visit Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxford University, The Natural History Museum, the Cotswold Wildlife Park, Didcot Power Station, the Cotswold Farm Park and Begbroke Science Park. We also attend the Cheltenham Science Festival, the Oxford County Science Day and follow the Oxford Christmas Lectures…to name but a few.
Throughout the year students take part in many inter-house competitions which help expand their knowledge, and test out science in ‘real-life’. They also broaden their knowledge and increase enthusiasm for the subject. National competitions that students regularly take part in include the Salters’ Institute Chemistry Challenge, the British Biology Olympiad and a range of Oxford University competitions.
Key Stage 3
Between Years 7 and 9 students cover a wide range of different topics from all three sciences. Within Key Stage 3 Science, students study the topic of reproduction. This is in line with the Government guidelines of the programme of study for Key Stage 3 Science. Students also consider sexual health within Key Stage 3, although this is covered in more detail during the GCSE course, in line with the GCSE specification.”
In Year 7 lessons are taught within tutor groups, with six lessons per fortnight. Students are set from Year 8. In Year 9 students start their GCSE courses after Christmas in order to provide them with the maximum opportunity of achieving their targeted grade.
Key Stage 4: AQA GCSE Trilogy (Double Science)
Edexcel Entry Level Science
AQA GCSE Triple Science
AQA GCSE Trilogy
This course is studied by all students in Year 10 and 11. There are nine lessons per fortnight that are equally divided between the three science disciplines and are taught by subject specialists. Students are taught within sets and sit the Trilogy examinations at the end of Year 11.
Entry Level Certificate
This course is a Level One course enabling students to complete their education with a valid Science Certificate. Three levels of award are available: Entry 1, Entry 2 and Entry 3 with Entry 3 being the most demanding. Students study one topic from Biology, Chemistry and Physics, plus carrying out teacher-assessed practical tasks.
The Triple Science option encompasses all of the topics covered in the Trilogy course plus a further module in each one of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Students have fourteen lessons per fortnight to study the topics of the extended Biology, Chemistry and Physics courses. Those who study Triple Science will achieve three separate GCSE certificates.
To help parents understand the different GCSE Science options, and to guide them in how them can support their child’s studies we hold a Parent Forum at the start of the course.
Key Stage 5: OCR A-level Biology
OCR A-level Chemistry
OCR A-level Physics
Science is a highly popular choice at Sixth Form, with approximately 80% of students choosing at least one science-based subject in Year 12.
There are four different options at Key Stage 5 and choices are made on potential future career choices as well as interest. It is vital that students have a passion for extending their knowledge beyond GCSE as the courses require dedication and a genuine desire to learn.
A-level Biology is the study of life. At any level, this subject is based around the structure, working and lives of plants and animals. At A-level, however, the depth of knowledge becomes greater and the finer detail of living organisms is brought to life. Biology covers many topics, from conservation to the intricacies of cell ultra-structure and the course is an excellent starting point for many university courses including medicine, veterinary science, biochemistry, conservation, environmental science, nursing, optometry and dentistry.
A-level 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. Opportunities for people with a qualification in Chemistry are extensive and include; agriculture, accounting, biology, engineering, geology, medicine, veterinary science and physiotherapy.
A-level Physics the scientific study of matter and energy and their interaction with each other. Physics qualifications are held in high regard and seen by universities and industry as excellent grounding for any science or engineering courses. Physics requires the student to grasp concepts using logical thought and apply this to a variety of practical situations.