Course Outline – Chemistry

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Chemistry Department Curriculum Intent

The Chemistry curriculum is designed to develop the skills needed for our students to become capable and confident scientists and allow them to develop depth of knowledge. We endeavour to promote STEM based careers and share our passion and enthusiasm of Chemistry with our students. Our teaching assumes that all students could be the scientists of the future if they so choose, and allows them to achieve to the best of their ability.

Through the Chemistry curriculum develop strength of character by teaching many transferable skills and How Science Works, contributing to the cultural capital of the students; for example how to use chemicals safely, how to behave with fire, why food bags fall apart, how to descale a kettle, environmental issues including global warming, problem solving, manipulation of apparatus, planning investigations, data interpretation and evaluation. 

Enthusiasm for Chemistry and a rich experience is further promoted in extracurricular opportunities including, but not limited to, Year 7 Science Club, competitions (Scrub up on Science, Salters Festival of Chemistry, Chemistry Mastermind, Cambridge Chemistry Challenge) and trips (GCSE Science Live, Royal Society Summer Exhibition).

KS3 Intent

The aim of the course is to provide a suitable basis for GCSE studies in Chemistry and to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum Key Stage 3. This requires the student to develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through progression; science enquiry though biology practical work, and are equipped with scientific knowledge about the uses and implications of science.

Practical work forms over 50% of the KS3 curriculum, allowing our students to develop a scientific attitude, experimental, analytical and evaluation skills, as well as measurement and appropriate mathematical skills.

Topics include Separating Mixtures, Acids and Alkalis, Crystals, Elements and Compounds, Rusting and Rates of Reaction.

KS4 Intent

The course follows the Edexcel 1CH0 specification and is spread across 3 years. This allows practical work to be extended beyond the core practicals, allowing students to discover, investigate and witness many experiments and techniques and further develop the practical and investigative skills learned in KS3.

The course moves at a good pace, while allowing opportunities to revisit earlier topics and giving time for revision and examination practice at appropriate points.

Time is set aside in Year 9 to allow all students to complete a Crest Award; in doing so students have the opportunity to investigate a scientific idea of their own choosing in a small group. By designing, carrying out and analysing their own experiments independently, but with support where necessary, they gain experience of the scientific method and design process.

Topics include: Atomic Structure, Structure and Bonding, Acids, Alkalis, Bases and Salts, the Periodic Table, Analysis, Chemical Calculations, Separating and Purifying, the Mole, Gases, Organic Chemistry, Electrolysis, the Reactivity Series, Titrations, Energy Changes, Rates of Reaction, Equilibria, Group Trends, Materials and Nano-particles

KS5 Intent

The course follows the OCR A specification H432 and builds on the foundations laid during the GCSE course. Familiar topics are studied in much greater depth and with a more extensive mathematical focus, for example Acids, Bases and Buffers, and new concepts are introduced, for example Entropy.

The course provides an excellent basis for progression to scientific degrees and careers, and also allows the development of many transferable skills such as data analysis and interpretation that can be used in a wider sense. Furthermore, and with an increasing need to have a good level of scientific literacy in everyday life, a detailed understanding of ‘How science works’ in an everyday context is developed.

Classes are shared between 2 teachers and students study approximately equal amounts of physical, organic and inorganic Chemistry. The course moves at a good pace with regular assessment, retrieval practice and increasing synoptic links. Structured revision lessons are incorporated for preparation for both internal and external examinations at appropriate points.

Practical work is embedded in the course and commences at the outset, with a double practical lesson almost each week. The scope of experimental work goes beyond the requirements of the practical endorsement, allowing students to become competent and confident practical Chemists well prepared for future scientific study.

Extension and enrichment opportunities are made available to students, including extension lesson, the RSC Chemistry at Work exhibition, Cambridge Chemistry Race, mentoring younger students, talks and essay competitions and student-led societies (VetSoc, MedSoc, BioSoc, ChemSoc).

Topics include: Atomic Structure, Chemical Bonding, Enthalpy Changes, Rates of Reaction, Equilibria, Redox Potentials, Energetics and Entropy, Periodic Table, Group Trends, Qualitative Analysis, Transition Metals, Organic chemistry, Spectroscopy.

Department facilities

The department is fortunate in having a suite of twelve purpose built laboratories served by five preparation rooms and a team of three technicians. This results in almost all science lessons being taught in laboratories and allows practical work to be fully integrated into the lessons at the most opportune time.

Co-Curriculum and Extracurricular Activities

We offer a wide range of extracurricular opportunities including a Year 7 Science Club and a range of competitions such as “Scrub up on Science”, the Salters Festival of Chemistry, Chemistry Mastermind, the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge, the Cambridge Chemistry Race and the Chemistry Olympiad. There are also trips including to GCSE Science Live, Chemistry Conferences, the Chemistry at Work Exhibition and the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.

Opportunities for Further Study and Destinations

The majority of our students progress to STEM based university courses and careers.

Chemistry is the central science and is therefore a valuable and, in many cases, essential basis for further study in science.  Chemistry A Level is a normal requirement for the following courses: Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacy and Chemical Engineering.  In addition, success with A Level Chemistry reflects transferable skills such as numeracy, analysis and problem solving, skills which are widely valued by both universities and employers in management, finance and other technical areas. Over the last four years, our students have gone on to study the following courses, amongst others, at university: Medicine, Natural Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Biology, Physics, Dentistry, Biochemistry, Veterinary Medicine, Chemical Engineering, Engineering and Ophthalmology.