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.
A Song of Ice and Fire
On Tuesday 25th November over 300 pupils from local primary schools joined us at Tavistock College to watch an exciting and engaging show called ‘Fire and Ice’ presented by the Science department.
Mr Smith and Mr Allen gave pupils the chance to see first-hand what happens when you cool a banana to -196 degrees Celsius and at what speed you can launch a methane rocket.
The show consisted of 2 parts: ice and fire. Pupils were shocked and excited to see a range of experiments which used liquid nitrogen, a very cold chemical, to freeze flowers, tennis balls and rubber – they could then be shattered with a hammer! Pupils even had the chance to eat quick-frozen ice cream: chocolate milk mixed with the liquid nitrogen.
The liquid nitrogen boiled at room temperature, giving the stage and audience a spooky feel.
Then came the fire – Mr Smith demonstrated what happens when metals burn in oxygen and this was followed with demonstrations of burning ethanol, coloured metal solutions and the Thermit reaction – so hot it can melt through cars!
Just when the audience thought they had seen enough, the duo went on to burn sweets – making jelly babies scream and angel delight fireballs!
The finale of the show was the most shocking and loud! Pupils made sure they covered their ears as Mr Smith lit balloons filled with hydrogen – a very explosive gas, followed with the pair firing rockets filled with methane.
By the end of the show all pupils were in agreement that they had had a great time, but also learnt some things about Science and reactions. Here’s to another great show next year!