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 and an opportunity to explore the content in more depth. It also gives our students the opportunity to appreciate how experimental evidence underpins physical theories. Our key stage 4 students study for Edexcel GCSE Physics (1PH0).
Year 9We 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 and Newton’s Laws. In the spring term, we study energy, a crucially important topic that underpins all of science. We study the transfer of energy, the notion of work and associated energy calculations (such as gravitational potential energy and kinetic energy). Energy resources (renewable/non-renewable sources) are studied as well as the trends in their use. 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, convex lenses, and the electromagnetic spectrum).
Year 10Students in Year 10 start off by studying momentum and collisions, which helps to review learning from Year 9 forces and motion. This then progresses on to rotational forces, gears and simple machines.
The next topic is 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). This topic is followed by Nuclear Physics which covers the development of different models of the atom, nuclear decay modes, the properties, dangers and uses of radiation, as well as nuclear fission and fusion.
The year is then finished by studying astronomy. This far reaching topic covers the solar system, orbits, the Big Bang, and stellar evolution.
Year 11Students in Year 11 start off the year studying electrical circuits and static electricity, before a pause for the GCSE mock exams. After this, they then move on to mains electricity and alternating current. After electricity, pupils progress on to electromagnetism. After recapping the properties of permanent magnets from Key Stage 3, students will study the magnetic effects of an electric current and the forces on a current carrying conductor, leading on to explaining DC motors. We then investigate electromagnetic induction, and AC generators and conclude the topic by learning about transformers, and the National Grid.
The final part of the Year 11 curriculum covers pressure in fluids, Archimedes’ principle and the behaviour of springs.
The course is finished in good time to allow plentiful time for revision to consolidate understanding and work on application and explanation in anticipation of the GCSE exams.
Practical SkillsPhysics 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 strong emphasis. Students have to complete “core practicals” as advised by the exam boards, which form part of the specification. These are 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.
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.
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