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Science

A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils are taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils are encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.

The Science Faculty is a dynamic and rapidly developing team, consisting of 13 teaching staff and 3 technicians. The Faculty is a mix of experienced staff and those who have joined the profession more recently. Our focus is to provide the best possible learning experiences for students through high quality Science teaching.

We are housed in our own large, block that has undergone some refurbishment, with further improvements planned for the near future. The 13 labs are well equipped and have PCs and projectors in each. Interactive projectors are available in some labs. There is also a dedicated Science ICT suit, a class set of iPads, Wordpads and 64 Android tablets. Teaching and learning is supported by well-resourced technicians, additional courses materials and ICT/software based learning resources.

Our Science curriculum provides opportunities for students to:

  • research, experiment, discuss and develop arguments
  • pursue an independent enquiry into an aspect of science of personal interest
  • use real-life examples as a basis for finding out about science
  • study science in local, national and global contexts, and appreciate the connections between these
  • experience science outside the school environment, including in the workplace, where possible
  • use creativity and innovation in science, and appreciate their importance in enterprise
  • recognise the importance of sustainability in scientific and technological developments
  • explore contemporary and historical scientific developments and how they have been communicated
  • prepare to specialise in a range of science subjects and consider career opportunities both within science and in other areas that are provided by science qualifications
  • consider how knowledge and understanding of science informs personal and collective decisions, including those on substance abuse and sexual health
  • make links between science and other subjects and areas of the curriculum.

We teach a range of courses across the breadth of the curriculum up to A level including some applied routes for students. At present, Science is taught as follows:

Key Stage 3

Students follow the Wikid Science scheme and develop their “Working Scientifically” skills in dedicated skills lessons.

Year 7: Students are taught in mixed ability groups.

Years 8 and 9: Groups are set based on ability.

Key Stage 4

Students in Year 11 are currently following of the following pathways:

  • Triple Science (AQA), 3 Science GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
  • GCSE Science in Year 10, followed by GCSE Additional Science or Additional Applied Science in Year 11.

Students in Year 10 are all studying Triple Science (AQA), 3 Science GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

Key Stage 5

A large number of students join the 6th Form and there is a good uptake of A level Sciences and Level 3 Applied Science.

  • Biology (OCR)
  • Chemistry (Edexcel)
  • Physics (WJEC)
  • L3 BTEC Applied Science (Edexcel)

The best test of understanding is what students can do with it in a real situation or know-how. At We use performance assessment activities set in authentic contexts – what students or scientists might do outside the classroom. These performances bring together concepts, facts and a whole range of scientific, personal and learning skills. At KS4/5 we use examination style questions to provide a robust assessment of learning and help develop good examination technique. Students are regularly assessed and every student receives feedback on how to make progress. Students are also encouraged to reflect on, and manage their own progress against their targets. Built-in formative assessment provides students and teachers with a clear picture how well new ideas and skills have been developed in each lesson.

Students actively build ideas through experience and reflection. In our curriculum, the teaching sequences promote a spirit of inquiry by using ‘essential questions’. These are short, provocative questions that automatically lead students to uncover the Big Ideas. Sharing learning objectives using essential questions can be more powerful than displaying lists of outcomes. It helps students to take ownership of their learning.

Activities arise naturally from the context, so that students perceive them as challenges to overcome. That makes them think more deeply, gives them a greater sense of achievement, and engages them in higher order thinking.

We encourage all our staff to share the opportunities that Science can offer. There is well attended Science Club, numerous STEM activities and we organise numerous trips and visits for students to extend, enrich and support the curriculum offered.

Science Blog

Year 12 & 13 Forensics

Posted: 15 December 2015

Year 12 and 13 Science BTEC students recently spent an away day studying cutting edge practical science with a vocational focus. The class visited Cornwall College campus at Cambourne where they were introduced to practical forensic science, using gas liquid chromatography to measure methanol in different vodka samples, as part of a mock murder scene. They then moved on to Falmouth Marine School where they looked at aquaponics and learnt about the mathematics associated with catch rates from trawler fishing. Altogether it was a fantastically useful insight into the application of science in the real world and students came away with a much better understanding of where their science studies could take them in the future.

Many thanks to Alex Jackson for organising the day.

BIG BANG SUCCESS IN EXETER

Posted: 1 July 2015

Almost five hundred students from across the South West were involved in the National Science and Engineering Competition at the 2015 Big Bang South West. Tavistock College Design and Technology student Darcy Brown, aged 13, wowed the judges and picked up two fantastic awards in this high profile STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event. Darcy was selected along with five A Level students from the school to represent their fantastic product design work on a regional stage at the event hosted by ‘Education Business Partnership – South West’ (EBP-SW) at Exeter University.

The sixth-formers, Emily Spry (who picked up two awards at the previous year’s event), Holly Speare, Will Dax and Ryan Arnold exhibited their beautiful A Level products, while Darcy was chosen from hundreds of other possibles to exhibit her ‘Crazy Camel’ game. The Crazy Camel has been developed by Darcy to be an interactive toy as well as a game and assembly kit which aims to develop making skills and creativity while being a really fun game to play with friends. Darcy produced a finished product, instruction manuals and an assembly kit version and presented her product to the judges with passion, enthusiasm and business acumen.

Organisers of the event commented: “The calibre of student work in the South West is breath taking. Our judges were overwhelmed by the quality of what they saw”. After a fantastic morning of exhibiting, the students took part in a science and technology master-class with a focus on rocket science and then the day came to its climax, the award ceremony. Darcy was stunned when she heard her name read out as a winner of the ‘Enterprising Young Devon award’ for the fantastic business enterprise element to her work. Soon after returning to her seat after the ordeal of having photos and handshakes in front of hundreds of onlookers, Darcy was announced as a regional winner of the Technology and Engineering Award and had won a place at the national finals which will take place at the NEC in March.

Yvonne Paddon (Partnership Adviser EBP-SW) said after the results: “I am absolutely delighted that the Crazy Camel won an Enterprising Young Devon award as not only was it innovative and creative, but also excellently presented, showing before and after assembly and the research process involved. I am looking forward to working both with Darcy, supporting her with a local business, and also with the school on a STEM enterprise day.”

Darcy commented: “I’m really excited and shocked to be given a chance to be in the National Big Bang Finals! I wasn’t expecting to win anything and to win two awards was fantastic. It was a great day and was an experience I definitely will not forget.”

As a result, Darcy has won a local business link that will be set up by EBP-SW which will help Darcy to further develop her product. Darcy has also won a free STEM enterprise day for Tavistock College and she has decided that this will focus on Year 7. Darcy will take a leadership role to help maximise its impact. Head of Technology at the college, Pete Keegan, commented: “We are incredibly proud of all the students who exhibited their work this year. It was great to see such talented students being celebrated. Darcy is a true asset to Technology at the college and we are delighted to have her as a role model to inspire others into Design and Technology.”

Big Bang 2015

STEM Enterprise Day

Posted: 17 December 2014

Year 10 students from Tavistock College took part in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) enterprise day last Tuesday.

Students formed small property companies which were asked to tender to purchase a prime site on which to build a new development on the outskirts of town. Students worked in groups containing a mixture of skills, allowing them to take on real world roles such as being a marketing director, architect, finance manager and project manager. The success of the teams depended on the appropriate allocation of jobs and sharing of their skill sets.

The students had a strict two and a quarter hour deadline to complete all their tasks on the property development challenge. This included a scale plan of the site, internal architect’s designs, newspaper advert, marketing ideas, tender letter and a series of finance calculations. Students were working under real time pressures and with people they wouldn’t normally work with as a result of the mixed nature of the groups. Another unique aspect of this challenge was the support provided by industry experts. Representatives from Cavanna Homes, The Met Office and the construction industry were all on hand to stimulate thoughts and question students on these real world tasks. Alongside this expert assistance, a group of Tavistock College 6th Form students helped to mentor some of the students.

At the end of the Challenge the 5 teams in each room had to present their work to the industry judges and peers with the winning team from each room going forward to the afternoon’s grand final. Not only did this day build on subject knowledge of Eco homes from Geography, marketing strategies from Business and technical drawing from Graphics, but more importantly it exposed students to a real life challenge. As a result teamwork, communication, time management and leadership skills were all developed – all skills and attributes that are vital to our 21st century learners as we prepare them for a workplace in the real world.

The College would like to thank Ralph James, Lynda Jones, Katie Russell and Chris Richards from the Met Office in Exeter, Martin Cavanna from Cavanna Homes, Gary Nichols from Optimise4 and independent consultant, Nigel Halford, for their support of this event, granting their time and expertise to all of the students involved.

Principal of Tavistock College, Helen Salmon, commented:
‘We were delighted to be working with a range of business partners for this important event. They gave generously of their time to help our young people to develop vital skills such as teamwork, planning, independent research and presentation skills.’