Key Stage 4
- Physics is taught as a separate Key Stage 4 subject in Years 9, 10 and 11. This 3 year model permits a passion for scientific enquiry to develop. It also gives our students the opportunity to appreciate how experimental evidence underpins physical theories. From September 2016, Year 9 and Year 10 will both be studying for the Edexcel GCSE Physics (1PH0), whilst Year 11 complete Cambridge iGCSE Physics (0625).
We initially study some key physics skills such as units, measurement, experimental skills and data processing. We then move onto a study of motion (e.g. speed and velocity, acceleration, distance-time and velocity-time graphs) which naturally links into the study of forces. This will include effects of forces, Newton’s laws of motion, turning forces, equilibrium, circular motion, simple machines, pressure, and stability.
In the spring term, we study energy, a crucially important topic that underpins all of science. We will study the transfer of energy, the notion of work and associated energy calculations (such as gravitational potential energy, stretching springs, and kinetic energy). Energy resources and renewable/non-renewable sources) are emphasised.
We complete the year by undertaking a study of the particle model of matter. This topic is where physics and chemistry combine! Students will learn about various topics from a molecular viewpoint, such as properties of solids, liquids and gases, the origin of pressure in gases, and the effect of changing pressure, volume, and temperature of a gas. We will also be studying thermal energy (specific heat capacity) and changes of state (specific latent heat).
Students in Year 10 start off by studying momentum and collisions, which helps to review learning from Year 9 forces and motion.
We then move onto a broad study of waves (studying transverse and longitudinal waves, properties of waves and the wave speed equation, sound waves and human hearing, reflection of light and ray diagrams, refraction and Snell’s law, convex lenses, and the electromagnetic spectrum).
Electricity is the final major subject studied in Year 10. This very broad topic covers static electricity and the concept of electric fields, electric current, potential difference and emf, resistance, electrical energy calculations, more complex components and potential dividers, and digital electronics.
Students in Year 11 start off the year by studying some basic nuclear physics. This recaps the structure of the atom and the evidence that we have for the nuclear model of the atom, before moving onto a study of radioactivity.
Following the Year 11 mocks, we study electromagnetism. After recapping the properties of permanent magnets from Key Stage 3, students will study the magnetic effects of an electric current. This naturally leads onto the forces on a current carrying conductor, and DC motors. We then investigate electromagnetic induction, and AC generators. We conclude the topic (and the year) by learning about transformers, and the National Grid. This allows plentiful time for revision in anticipation of the iGCSE exams.
Physics is ultimately an experimental subject, and so a large emphasis on practical skills (such as data collection and manipulation, graphs and data presentation, recording of observations, analysing data and reaching conclusions) is fully embedded into our curriculum. Where possible, students learn about new topics through experimentation, and scientific inquiry is given a huge emphasis. Students taking the IGCSE in Physics will complete a practical exam in Year 11 that assesses these practical skills. Students who are undertaking the new GCSE specification will have to complete core practicals as advised by the exam boards, which are embedded into the specification. These will be in addition to many other practicals that are designed to enrich Physics learning, in order to teach valuable transferrable skills to the students and prepare them for further science study.
Key Stage 5
- Physics is an extremely popular Key Stage 5 subject with high numbers opting for the subject at AS and A Level. We train our sixth form students for entry to the most well respected universities, and many go on to study technical courses at degree level.
At A Level we follow the OCR Physics A specification. This course builds on the physical principles and processes studied at GCSE, deepening students understanding of different subject areas and how they relate to each other. Students will develop a greater appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods and the investigative approach. Additionally, the course aims to achieve competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem solving skills.
The content is split into six teaching modules: Modules 1 to 4 constitute the stand-alone AS Level Qualification (H156); Modules 1 to 6, combined with the Practical Endorsement, constitute the A Level (H556). All components include a synoptic assessment. Practical skills are developed throughout the course. Students will be given the opportunity to use relevant apparatus and techniques to develop and demonstrate these specific practical skills, by completing the 12 core practicals prescribed as a minimum. Practical skills are assessed indirectly via the exams and directly by teacher assessment of students’ competency.
Students will be examined on the content of the first four modules at the end of the Lower Sixth. This is the basis of the Advanced Subsidiary (AS) qualification.
Module 1 – Development of practical skills in physics
1.1 Practical skills assessed in a written examination
Module 2 – Foundations of physics
2.1 Physical quantities and units
2.2 Making measurements and analysing data
2.3 Nature of quantities
Module 3 – Forces and motion
3.2 Forces in action
3.3 Work, energy and power
3.5 Newton’s laws of motion and momentum
Module 4 – Electrons, waves and photons
4.1 Charge and current
4.2 Energy, power and resistance
4.3 Electrical circuits
4.5 Quantum physics
All learners must meet the AS standard before proceeding to the remaining two modules that complete the full Advanced Level qualification in the Upper Sixth.
Module 5 – Newtonian world and astrophysics
5.1 Thermal physics
5.2 Circular motion
5.4 Gravitational fields
5.5 Astrophysics and cosmology
Module 6 – Particles and medical physics
6.2 Electric fields
6.4 Nuclear and particle physics
6.5 Medical imaging
AS-Level exams at the end of Year 12 will be based upon the content covered during the year and comprise the following:
- Breadth in physics (01): 1 hour 30 minutes written paper; 50% of AS-level only
- Depth in physics (02): 1 hour 30 minutes written paper; 50% of AS-level only
- Modelling Physics (01): 2 hours 15 minutes written paper 37% of A-level
- Exploring physics (02): 2 hours 15 minutes written paper 37% of A-level
- Unified physics (03): 1 hour 30 minutes written paper 26% of A-level