Chemistry is a highly successful and popular subject all age groups throughout the school, taught by experienced and dedicated members of staff.
It offers many enrichment and co-curricular opportunities from Year 7 through to Year 13, including Science Club, Salter’s Festival of Chemistry and the International Chemisry Olympiad.
We teach Chemistry as a separate science for the first two years. At GCSE Chemistry is studied as a separate science, following the AQA specification. We also offer Trilogy Science GCSE, also AQA, as an alternative.
Girls have an introduction to lab safety and hazard symbols. We look at using and drawing chemical apparatus and learn how to use the Bunsen burner. We cover the topics of States of Matter and Separation Techniques and carry out practical experiments on filtration, distillation, crystallisation, and chromatography. Pupils study the differences between metals and non-metals and also learn about acids, alkalis and indicators. We look at the pH scale and investigate the pH values of both laboratory chemicals and household substances – we even make our own indicator from red cabbage.
The pupils are introduced to periodic table and we look at how it was developed. We explore the differences between elements and compounds and learn how to derive chemical formulae. We investigate energy within reactions, understanding the differences between exothermic and endothermic reactions; experiments are carried out alongside each topic to help pupils consolidate their learning. Pupils are also introduced to balancing equations.
All pupils begin GCSE Chemistry, starting with atomic structure and the periodic table, and moving on to chemical bonding. Both of these topics are fundamental to the subject and are covered in both separate and dual award science options.
At GCSE, girls gain an effective understanding of the practical nature of Chemistry and the importance of accurate experimental work and reporting. They develop a logical approach to problem-solving in a wider context and strengthen their experimental and investigative skills.
The course also teaches them about the impact of chemistry on social, industrial, technological, environmental and economic issues in the community, while preparing them for more advanced study in Chemistry or related fields.
The AQA GCSE courses for both separate Chemistry and Trilogy, consists of 10 topics, covering aspects of physical, inorganic and organic chemistry.
Girls are required to complete practical experiments throughout the course. Assessment is linear and there are two examinations at the end of Year 11.
Chemistry is a demanding yet rewarding A-Level course and our department prides itself on its thorough approach to teaching. We follow the OCR A specification for A level.
We run a rigorous practical schedule alongside bespoke notes and homework exercises and we provide extra support sessions in which students have the opportunity to bring any issues that require clarification.
Students must have a keen interest and an active curiosity for the subject, as well as strong grades at Chemistry GCSE, in order to study it at A-Level. To support the transition to A-Level, the department introduces students to the Lower Sixth with a ‘pre-A-Level’ course covering the major principles of the subject visited at GCSE, ensuring a firm grounding prior to A-Level studies.
The Chemistry A-Level course encompasses three elements:
• Physical Chemistry – including Atomic Structure, Kinetics and Thermodynamics
• Inorganic Chemistry – Group Chemistry and Transition Metals
• Organic Chemistry – including Alkanes, Alkenes and Alcohols
Practical tasks are performed alongside the subject content, the knowledge and application of which will be examined as part of the written papers at the end of the full A-Level course.
Theory work is complemented by extensive practical work which illustrates many aspects of the theory but also allows pupils to gain a pass for laboratory skills in addition to the traditional A-Level grade, which will support applications to leading universities.
Assessment is ongoing and finishes with an internal exam at the end of the first year, the result of which will be used to support UCAS grade predictions. The A-Level itself is examined in three exams at the end of the second year.
The Chemistry department provides a range of enrichment and extension activities to enhance the work covered in class, enabling aspirational chemists to demonstrate the independence of thought required to access demanding courses at top universities. Events are organised through the Royal Society of Chemistry, including the Olympiad for students in the Upper Sixth, the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge for the Lower Sixth and Spectroscopy workshops run by Liverpool University.
Competitive opportunities are also offered to Chemistry students of all ages, including the Top of the Bench and Young Analysts competitions, which involve Years 9 to 11 and Lower Sixth respectively.
An A-Level in Chemistry is essential for Medicine and many other science-related courses at university and its complexity means it is also well-regarded for courses such as Law or Economics.