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Curriculum Leader (and subject lead for Biology): Mrs C Vincent

Subject lead for Physics: Mr M Woods

Subject lead for Chemistry: Miss J L Smith


Science Department

Pupils at St Gabriel’s Roman Catholic High School achieve well in and enjoy Science. High standards of teaching enthuse students, encourage a positive attitude to learning and develop independent thought. With hardworking and dedicated staff we aim to develop pupils’ enthusiasm for learning, encourage a positive attitude towards Science and new technology, and foster a critical appreciation of the contribution that Science makes to society. We encourage all students to achieve the most they can with their God-given talents. Well equipped laboratories, ably supported by two technicians, ensure that the practical side of the subject flourishes. Pupils are given opportunities to learn outside of the classroom, participate in STEM clubs and activities, learn through exciting demonstrations and day trips whilst developing their application and critical thinking skills.

Key Stage 3

Pupils study science for three lessons every week. The innovative Key stage 3 curriculum has been developed to complement the GCSE specification whilst building on their understanding of Science in KS2. There are 9 Science topics in each year group which encompass knowledge and understanding as well as developing scientific practical skills. There are 3 Biology, 3 Chemistry and 3 Physics modules in each year group outlined below. Pupils will also have an Introduction to Science week at the start of Year 7 to develop new experimental skills and provide a comprehensive understanding of the Health and Safety of working in a laboratory.

Year 7:

1. The building blocks of life – Pupils will learn about different types of cells, tissues and body systems as well as developing their microscopy practical skills.
2. Acids and Alkalis – Pupils will learn about acids, alkalis and the pH scale, whilst developing their practical skills carrying out neutralisation and acid- base reactions
3. Energy Stores - – Pupils will look to understand energy and its many forms, something scientists have struggled with for decades. Pupils will learn the impacts of energy use in daily life how they can reduce their impacts on the environment.
4. Human Reproduction – Pupils will learn about human reproduction and the Menstrual cycle
5. Basic Chemical Reactions – Pupils will learn about physical and chemical reactions, the chemistry behind chemical reactions as well as carrying out investigative experiments
6. What are Forces? - – Pupils will study forces and their impacts on objects. They will also look to investigate the effects of forces on motion.
7. The World of Bacteria – Pupils will be learning about the different types of microbes and disease. Pupils will also be completing an investigation into different types of anti-microbials
8. Separating Substances – To allow pupils to understand impurity and practice various methods of separating substances e.g. chromatography and distillation.
9. The Particles that make us - Pupils will study the particle arrangements of matter and how they interact with each other. Pupils will also look at how energy affects the arrangements of matter.

Year 8:

1. The Digestive system – Pupils will learning about our digestive system, including enzymes, as well as imbalances in our diet. Pupils will complete an investigation into the enzymatic activity of different tissues
2. What is Matter? – To allow pupils to understand the different forms that matter can take and then carry out an experiment to observe elements combining to form compounds
3. Magnetism - Pupils study the phenomena of magnetism, where do we find it? How does it help us? Pupils will also discover how we can induce magnetism and the benefits of doing this.
4. Our lungs – this module focuses on lung structure and function as well as the effect of certain drugs on the breathing system.
5. Periodic table – Pupils will learn how to extrapolate information from the periodic table and carry out experiments to investigate displacement
6. How we see and hear - – Pupils study the effects of transferring energy on matter and how our bodies interact with the fluctuations in energy.
7. Ecology - Pupils will be looking at the interactions between different organisms within a community. They will also be completing some habitat sampling techniques outside.
8. Combustion – To investigate different fuels, the energy they provide us as well as negative impacts of burning fuels e.g. for the environment
9. The world of electricity - Pupils learn the principles of electricity and electrical circuits. Pupils will understand how circuits transfer energy to do work and the different types of circuits we use.

Year 9:

1. An Introduction to Genetics – this module focuses on the structure and discovery of DNA and includes a DNA extraction practical
2. Chemical Reactions – Pupils look in greater depth and carry out at some chemical reactions e.g. oxidation, thermal decomposition and reactions between acids and carbonates
3. Forces and Motion - Pupils will look to understand Newton’s laws of motion and how they can be applied to any object in motion. Pupils will also study motion tracking and manipulating data to improve efficiency of transport.
4. Introduction to Respiration – Pupils will be comparing aerobic and anaerobic respiration in different organisms, and the effects of exercise as well as completing an experiment on fermentation
5. Energy within Chemical Reaction – Pupils will look at how energy is transferred in reactions and factors which can affect the rate of reactions
6. Magnets and Electricity - Pupils will study how electromagnetism can be used to allow different devices to work and how they are integral to modern day living and technology.
7. Plants and Photosynthesis – This is an introduction to Photosynthesis with a focus on practical activities which enable us to demonstrate how Photosynthesis is occurring.
8. Environmental Chemistry – Pupils will learn about the chemistry of our environment and how this is changing rapidly
9. Space Physics - Here pupils will look to understand the scale of the universe, how our solar system was formed, what actually happens in a star? Pupils will study how mankind came to our conclusions and why are there contradicting theories.

Key Stage 4

There are 2 possible routes at key stage 4. Triple Science, where pupils are taught 7 hours per week and achieve 3 GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This is offered as an option, however due to the complexity of the course, pupils must achieve well in their Year 9 Science tests to ensure they can choose this option. Most pupils in Key stage 4 follow the combined Science route and are taught 4 hours of Science per week. Pupils still study Biology, Chemistry and Physics by specialist teachers, but the results are combined together to 2 GCSE grades. Those students pursuing two GCSEs performed above the local and national averages in 2019.
Regardless of the pathway chosen, At KS4 we complete 5 Blocks of Biology, Chemistry and Physics over the course of Year 10 and Year 11, with triple Scientists looking at the modules at greater depth and complexity. The blocks are shown below and this provides a basic outline of pupils learning. For more in-depth information about the content of the courses at KS4, use the AQA website, which is our awarding body;

Block 1 – Cell Biology and Organisation: Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic cells, Microscopy calculations, Stem cells, Diffusion, Osmosis, Active transport. Enzyme activity
Block 2 – Healthy lifestyle: The heart, Cancer, Human defence systems (lymphocytes and phagocytes), respiration and metabolism
Block 3 – Plants and Ecology: Photosynthesis, Transpiration and Translocation, uses of glucose, Communities and Biodiversity
Block 4 – Inheritance, Variation and Evolution: Mitosis and the cell cycle, Genetic inheritance, Evolution, Genetic engineering and Classification
Block 5 – Homeostasis: the endocrine system and the nervous system, diabetes, contraception, the eye (triple only) and the brain (triple only)

Block 1 - Matter and Bonding: Atomic structure, history of the periodic table, bonding and giant structures
Block 2 – Quantitative Chemistry and Chemical Change: The mole, titrations, percentage yield (triple only), atom economy (triple only), reactivity series, reactions with acids, neutralisation and electrolysis
Block 3 – Reactions and Organic Chemistry: exothermic and endothermic reactions, factors affecting the rate of reaction, equilibrium, alkanes, alkenes, fractional distillation, carboxylic acids (triple), esters (triple), polymerisation (triple), alcohols (triple)
Block 4 – Chemical analysis and the earth’s atmosphere: formulations, chromatography, history of the earth’s atmosphere, greenhouse effect, carbon footprint, atmospheric pollutants
Block 5 – Resources: Finite resources, potable water, waste water treatment, life cycle assessments

Block 1 – Energy: Energy stores, Energy change calculations, efficiency, the national grid, energy resources and environmental effects.
Block 2 – Electricity: Electrical circuit symbols, series and parallel circuits, current, voltage and resistance, electricity in the home.
Block 3 – Particle Model and Nuclear Physics: Internal energy and changes of state, specific heat capacity, latent heat, nuclear radiation characteristics and uses of nuclear radiation, patterns of nuclear decay.
Block 4 – Forces: Scalar and vector quantities, resultant forces, forces and motion graphs, forces and braking, momentum.
Block 5 – Waves and Magnetism: Transverse and longitudinal waves, wave properties, the electromagnetic spectrum, induced magnetism, the motor effect calculations, transformers and calculations (triple only) Space Physics (triple only): The universe, life cycle of a star, formation of elements, centripetal force, evidence of the big bang.

Independent Learning
In both key stages pupils will be provided with a homework booklet for each module of work. This provides a range of home learning activities, including pre-learning tasks, examination practices and online questions through ‘Century tech’. Further support for GCSE pupils is also provided in a study support group. This runs every Monday evening 3:05-4:05 and 3 lessons run each week; 1 biology, 1 chemistry and 1 physics. This is always popular with Year 10 and 11 pupils are encouraged to attend.


To promote enrichment opportunities for all, activities such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) clubs operate after school hours. Open to all Year 7 students this over-subscribed club runs every Monday 3:05-4:05pm providing pupils with further practical skills outside of the National Curriculum. The subject also has links with Holy Cross Sixth Form College: the school regularly sends students to compete in their events and science challenges; the college provides enrichment opportunities for triple scientists in year 10 with sixth-form taster lessons.


© St Gabriel's Roman Catholic High School 2021