CHEMISTRY IS PART of the core curriculum and is taught as a separate subject from Year 9 onwards. It is an especially popular subject with consistently high numbers of students opting to study it at AS and A2. Many of these students go on to study chemistry related courses at university—the most popular being medicine.
Miss Rose (Head of Department)
Students in Years 9-11 follow the Edexcel (9-1) Chemistry Specification.
With practical work being such a crucial element of Chemistry, students complete extensive practical work well in excess of the eight core practicals prescribed by the specification. By the end of KS4 students should have gained a wealth of practical experience to help them contextualise the fundamental theory covered, improve their practical competency and understanding of the scientific process (how science works) as well as generally garnering their enthusiasm and passion for the subject.
There are two examinations in GCSE Chemistry that are both taken at the end of Year 11. Knowledge of the core practicals and understanding of practical investigations are examined on both GCSE papers.
Details of the teaching for each year group are below.
In the first terms students complete a 'foundation course' in core aspects of GCSE Chemistry including particle theory, separation science, atomic structure, chemical bonding, the periodic table and group Chemistry. Students then continue with the extraction of metals, gases and fuels and Earth science.
Year 10 focuses on Physical Chemistry topics with students covering rates of reaction and quantitative chemistry in the autumn term and energy changes and reversible reactions in the spring term. The final term of Year 10 focuses on Organic Chemistry.
As well as completing a mock examination, students focus on the topics of analysis, acids, bases and salts, electrolysis and nanotechnology. We aim to finish the course in good time to allow for revision and exam preparation.
Material above and beyond that prescribed in the specification (GCSE plus) is taught throughout Years 9-11 which can encompass greater depth and breadth of topics, application of theory to real life contexts as well as a greater emphasis on practical work. The aim of this element is to both extend and enrich pupil learning, to encourage a greater understanding of Chemistry and to better prepare pupils taking science subjects at A Level and beyond.
It is expected that the majority of students will follow the separate science route, receiving a separate 9-1 grade for each of the subjects Biology, Chemistry and Physics. However, in circumstances where a student may benefit from studying a narrower specification, they will be entered for the Combined Science qualification, receiving two 9-1 GCSE grades.
- Paper 1 (1CH0/1H) – 1 hour 45 minutes – 100 marks (50% of the qualification). This paper covers material from topics 1-5 of the specification.
- Paper 2 (1CH0/2H) – 1 hour 45 minutes – 100 marks (50% of the qualification). This paper covers material from topics 1 and 6-9 of the specification.
Students studying Chemistry in Years 12 and 13 follow the linear AQA Chemistry specification (7404/7405). 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.
The A level content is split into three main branches of Chemistry: Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry. Material from each branch is taught in both years with Year 12 students learning all topics from the AS part of the specification and Year 13 students learning the remainder (please refer to the AQA specification for further details of specific topics covered).
Year 12 students currently sit the AS examination at the end of Year 12. For the majority who opt to carry on with Year 13, the results of the AS examination will not count any further and their A level result will be determined solely by their performance in the three A level papers sat at the end of Year 13, which cover content from both years.
The AS exam will consist of two papers:
- Paper 1 – 1 hour 30 minutes – 80 marks (50% of the AS qualification). This paper covers all the Physical Chemistry topcis (except kinetics) and Inorganic Chemistry, as well as relevant practical work.
- Paper 2 – 1 hour 30 minutes – 80 marks (50% of the AS qualification). This paper covers core Physical Chemistry topics including kinetics and Organic Chemistry, as well as relevant practical work.
The A level exam will consist of three papers:
- Paper 1 – 2 hours – 105 marks (35% of the A Level qualification). This paper covers all the Physical Chemistry topics (except kinetics) and Inorganic Chemistry, as well as relevant practical work.
- Paper 2 – 2 hours – 105 marks (35% of the A Level qualification). This paper covers core Physical Chemistry topics including kinetics and Organic Chemistry, as well as relevant practical work.
- Paper 3 – 2 hours – 90 marks (30% of the A level qualification). This is a synoptic paper that also focuses on knowledge and understanding of practical work.
Support sessions for KS4 and KS5 Chemistry are run weekly throughout the year. The Chemistry department provides weekly Chemistry Clinic support sessions during lunchtimes with additional revision sessions run before examinations.
Enrichment sessions are offered to keen/able chemists with the opportunity to compete in the Chemistry Olympiad aimed at Year 13 students.
The Chemistry department also enters students into a number of competitions run by the Royal Society of Chemistry, including the Schools Analyst Competition (aimed at Year 12) and the Chemistry Challenge (aimed at Year 10). The Cambridge Chemistry Challenge is entered by Lower Sixth students during June after their AS exams. Weekly sessions are run from February onwards.
Suggested reading list for those interested in a chemistry related degree course:
The Beginner's Guide to Engineering: Chemical Engineering by John T Stimus
Why chemical reactions happen (chapters 1-4) by James Keeler and Peter Wothers
The Double Helix by James Watson Around the World in 18 Elements by David Scott
Molecules at an Exhibition by John Emsley
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