All pupils at St Edwards’s 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.
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 potential and empower them 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
- Homeostasis & Response
- Inheritance, Variation & Evolution
The examination is in the form of two theory papers at the end of the course.
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.