All pupils at St Edwards’s School study general Science in Years 7 and 8, following the Exploring Science course. They have one or two teachers, and study all aspects of Science. The emphasis is on practical work and the students are given ample opportunity to develop their practical skills.

In Year 9 students are taught by specialist teachers and start their GCSE courses in the three branches of Science: Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Students are encouraged to opt for two or three Sciences at GCSE, those intending to read Science at A level and university being encouraged to take three.

The Sciences are popular choices for A level students and the school has seven dedicated Science laboratories fitted to a high standard. More than half our KS5 students take at least one Science A level, and many go on to study Science or Engineering at university, including entrants to Oxford and Cambridge.

The Science Department regularly organises trips and extra-curricular activities for all age groups, and the Science Club for Year 7 and 8 is popular. The annual National Science and Engineering Week STEM Quiz in March sees more than 100 students participating in this tightly fought contest. Year 9 students are encouraged to participate in the Cheltenham Science Festival Famelab Academy, competing against other state and independent schools in the Cotswolds, and students from the school have been runners-up in the competition in 2015 and 2016. Year 8 and 9 students also participate successfully in the EDT Go4SET project, winning both the Pupil’s Choice Cup and the Most Innovative Project Cup in 2016.



In Year 9 we introduce the students to the wide variety of subject matter that Chemistry has to offer, including Metals, Air, Water, Acids and Alkalis, Carbon and Carbon Dioxide and Separating. There is a great deal of practical work involved.

GCSE Chemistry is a fascinating subject which especially appeals to the more able pupils. It deals with the stuff of matter, and its practicals are always the most spectacular of the three sciences!

At A-Level we follow the Salters’ Chemistry course run by OCR. This contains a wide variety of Organic, Inorganic and Physical Chemistry topics all of which are very up to date and backed up by a number of interesting practicals. Students are examined in two ways: end of year written module exams and coursework. In the AS year they write an Open Book report and do a practical experiment. In the A2 year they perform a lengthy Individual Investigation in their second term.


In Year 9 we introduce students to the joy of Physics as a subject in its own right. We are currently following the Year 9 Exploring Science Physics course covering forces and motion, pressure and moments, gravity and space and energy in preparation for the introduction of the more rigorous GCSE courses in September 2016.

During Year 10 and Year 11, the GCSE course is covered. Topics covered include: Radioactivity, Earth and Space, Forces and Motion, Energy Resources, Electromagnetic Waves and Nuclear Fission and Fusion. Students follow the AQA GCSE Physics course.

At A Level, we follow the AQA A level Physics course over two years of study. The AS course includes waves, materials, mechanics, particle physics and materials science. The second year of the course includes electromagnetism, fields and radioactivity. Students also have the opportunity to study two optional topics such as Turning Points in Physics, Medical Physics or Astronomy. There is no coursework associated with the A level, but students are prepared for the Practical Endorsement in which their practical skills are assessed.

Physics students are regularly give the opportunity to attend conferences at universities such as Warwick or Cardiff and, in 2016, a group went to Geneva to visit CERN.


The department aims to:

  • Stimulate enjoyment of, and interest in, Biology
  • Improve scientific knowledge, understanding and skills
  • Increase awareness of how Biology links with everyday life and other subjects
  • Increase understanding of the nature and limitations of scientific inquiry
  • Maximise student attainment
  • Empower students to ‘learn how to learn’

Teaching methods are varied and employ a rich mixture of visual, auditory, tactile and kinaesthetic learning opportunities. Students will have the opportunity to work individually and in groups. There is great emphasis on practical work.

We begin GCSE in Year 9 and follow the AQA Biology course, which provides a good balance between breadth and depth. The course content is divided into 7 topics:

  • Cell Biology
  • Organism Organisation
  • Infection & Response
  • Bioenergetics
  • Homeostasis & Response
  • Inheritance, Variation & Evolution
  • Ecology

The examination is in the form of two theory papers at the end of the course.

Sixth Form


We follow Chemistry B (Salters) (OCR)

  • UNIT 1: Theory: 30% of AS
  • UNIT 2: Theory: 50% of AS
  • UNIT 3: Practical 20% of AS
  • UNIT 4: Theory: 15% of A2
  • UNIT 5: Theory: 20% of A2
  • UNIT 6: Practical: 15% of A2

Course aims:

Chemistry is the study of the properties and reactions of substances. As in all sciences, practical work is an important element. This course provides a very up-to-date look at recent developments in the chemical world. It is well supported by many practicals, promoting a hands-on approach to the subject. Students taking this course should have a genuine interest in the world and the changes taking place all around us.

Entry requirements:

A minimum of a grade B at GCSE in both Chemistry and Maths is expected, however a grade A in both subjects is preferable.

Key features:

The course incorporates as much practical as possible where relevant and in a dedicated A Level laboratory in which the students are encouraged to come and work. AS areas of Chemistry include topics covering Fuels and their advancement into the future; Polymers a fast developing areas which is making technological breakthroughs. Other areas include: “Where do the Elements come from?” and “What’s in the Atmosphere?”

At A2 Drugs, Designer Polymers, Proteins, Colour and the Oceans are all covered. All areas of the course encourage students to think for themselves and apply their knowledge in a number of different ways.

Higher Education:

Engineering – many disciplines of Engineering like students to have Chemistry at A Level. Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Sciences – Chemistry is a compulsory A Level and a high grade is required. Chemistry still remains one of the most rigorous and academic A Levels and success will help in a wide variety of careers including those not necessarily science-based.


We follow the OCR specification

Course Aims:

Advanced GCE Biology provides a fascinating insight into the living world and deeper explanations for ideas studied in previous years. The aims of the course are to:

  • Stimulate enjoyment of, and interest in, Biology
  • Improve scientific knowledge, understanding and skills
  • Increase awareness of how Biology links with everyday life and other subjects
  • Increase understanding of the nature and limitations of scientific inquiry.
  • The ultimate aim of the course is to maximise student potential and empower them to
  • ‘learn how to learn’.

Entry requirements:

A minimum of grade B at GCSE in Biology is expected however a grade A is preferable.  Grade B or above in GCSE Chemistry is also preferable.

Key Features:

  • Practical skills acquisition is embedded throughout the course and culminates in the awarding of a practical endorsement at A2 Level.
  • Develops key biological topics while focusing on interesting modern applications.
  • Promotes an understanding of the nature of science.
  • 10% of examination assessment is mathematical skills at Level 2 or above.  This is a little higher than GCSE level.
  • Provides an opportunity to refine a vast array of cognitive skills within a wide spectrum of topics that contain aspects of Geography, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Statistics, Psychology, Physical Education, Ethics and Sociology.

Course Content:

AS Biology

  • Foundations in Biology: Cell Structure, Biological Molecules, Nucleic Acid, Enzymes, Biological Membranes and Cell Diversity, Division & Organisation
  • Exchange and Transport: Exchange Surfaces, Transport in AnimalsTransport in Plants
  • Biodiversity, Evolution and Disease: Disease and Immunity, Biodiversity, Classification & Evolution

As part of the AS course students attend a four day residential field course at Nettlecombe Court, a Field Studies Council Centre in Taunton, Somerset.

A2 Biology

  • Communication, Homeostasis and Energy: Communication & Homeostasis, Excretion, Neuronal Communication, Hormonal Communication, Plant & Animal Responses, Photosynthesis, Cell Respiration
  • Genetics, Evolution and Ecosystems: Cellular Control, Inheritance, Manipulating Genomes, Cloning and Biotechnology, Ecosystems, Populations & Sustainability

The examination is in the form of theory papers with a practical endorsement if students complete the second year.

Next Steps:

Biology is a passport to many University courses – the skills gained can readily transfer to many other science and non-science degrees.  Biologists from St Edward’s have gone on to study, for example:

  • Biochemistry at Oxford
  • Medicine at Leeds
  • Veterinary Science at The Royal Veterinary College
  • Zoology at Cardiff
  • Neuroscience at Bristol
  • Nursing at Bristol UWE
  • Pharmacology at Cardiff, Exeter & Bristol
  • Biological Sciences at Cardiff and Oxford
  • Animal Science at Newcastle
  • Biomedical Science at Newcastle & Warwick
  • Sports Science at Liverpool John Moore’s & Bristol UWE
  • Anthropology at University College London
  • Agriculture at Harper Adams University College
  • Criminology & Neuroscience at Keele


We follow Physics B Advancing Physics (OCR)

  • UNIT 1: Theory: 30% of AS (15% of A2)
  • UNIT 2: Theory: 50% of AS (25% of A2)
  • UNIT 3: Coursework: 20% of AS (10% of A2)
  • UNIT 4: Theory: 15% of A2
  • UNIT 5: Theory: 25% of A2
  • UNIT 6: Coursework: 10% of A2

Course aims:

To develop the student’s understanding of the fundamental concepts of Physics and their application in everyday and technological settings. To allow students the opportunity to explore their own particular interests via challenging, yet open ended, coursework tasks. To enthuse and open the eyes of the student to the order and beauty of the physical world they live in, whilst also preparing them for potential further study in the subject.

Entry requirements:

A minimum of a grade B at GCSE in both Physics and Mathematics is expected however a grade A in both subjects is preferable.

Key features:

  • Recent technological developments such as digitisation, particle physics and quantum mechanics are core features of the course.
  • Fundamental ideas such as Newtonian mechanics, electromagnetism and fields are treated in very modern, relevant contexts
  • Very substantial resources are packaged on a dedicated course CD which supplements thorough text books for both years.
  • Practical work is a constant theme throughout the course, with a dedicated A Level laboratory that students are encouraged to come and work in at any time.
  • Very comprehensive ICT resources are available, and significant use of these is to be expected.

Higher Education:

Engineering – all disciplines of Engineering, from Civil to Aeronautical will require Physics. Finance – Physics is a sought after A Level, along with Mathematics, for a career in Finance. In general, Physics is regarded as a rigorous, academic A Level and success in it will help in a huge range of careers, from medicine, law and business to journalism, media and architecture.