Chemistry is sometimes known as the ‘central science’ because it helps to connect physical sciences, like maths and physics, with applied sciences, like biology, medicine and engineering. Chemistry helps you to develop research, problem solving and analytical skills. It encourages you to question, explore ideas and justify your responses with logical step-by-step reasoning. Chemistry requires teamwork and communication skills too, which is great for project management.
Chemistry opens the doors to many careers and courses and allows you to go on to study for A-level Chemistry or BTECs in the sciences. A-level Chemistry is essential for a degree in medicine or veterinary medicine. It will help you get ahead in most STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) careers. It is also an important subject for careers in environmental science, engineering, toxicology, metallurgy (studying how metals behave), space exploration, pharmaceuticals, energy and software development to name but a few.
Our year 9 Chemistry course covers the main topics in which students need to demonstrate competence, at GCSE level Chemistry. We also focus on developing the mathematical skills to balance equations, practical ability to perform investigations and literacy proficiency to explain conclusions and scientific phenomena. This ensures that students enter year 10 with the confidence and the foundation knowledge to prepare students for success at GCSE Chemistry. The course offers ample opportunity for students to become adept in handling chemicals and scientific equipment safely and confidently. Enquiry skills are embedded into the topics and students are encouraged to work both independently and collaboratively.
The course is comprised of the main topics listed below with links to BBC Bitesize content.
Autumn Term 1: Particle Theory including diffusion and solutions
Autumn Term 2: Atoms, Elements and the Periodic Table including separating techniques
Spring Term 1: Metals and Corrosion Metal Reactivity
Spring Term 2: Chemical Reactions including combustion, displacement, thermal decomposition, exothermic and endothermic reactions
Summer Term 1: Acids, Alkalis and Salts including balancing equations and writing formulae
Summer Term 2: Rates of Reaction Greenhouse Effect, Acid Rain and Pollutants
Assessment will be a 1hour End of Key Stage 3 exam
In years 10 and 11 the students follow the AQA GCSE Chemistry Specification. The course introduces the unifying patterns and themes of chemistry.
We begin year 10 with the Atomic Structure topic because this eases students into more difficult concepts by recapping things they will have already studied at Key Stage 3 as well as building skills in balancing equations and practical science. The next topic is Bonding, Structure, and the Properties of Matter, where students will use their knowledge gained about atomic structure and the periodic table to describe and draw different types of bonding and understand the corresponding properties. In Quantitative Chemistry students learn a variety of equations, which can be used to work out things such as reacting masses and the atom economy of reactions. This all links to the sustainability of processes and we apply the knowledge in the context of prior topics then embed it in later topics. The Chemical Changes topic is all about the reactions of acids and metals; using the reactivity series to learn how different metals can be extracted depending on their position in the series. After that, the Energy Changes topic develops the concepts taught in Key Stage 3 about exothermic and endothermic reactions, including calculating energy changes in reactions. Students also learn about fuel cells and rechargeable batteries. We finish the year by starting the Rate and Extent of Chemical Change topic which recaps Key Stage 3 content, then students go on to carry out experiments to work out the rate of reactions, and plot graphs using experimental data and tangents to calculate rate.
In year 11, we finish the Rate and Extent of Chemical Change topic. This leads onto Organic Chemistry which covers organic substances like alkanes, alcohols, esters and amino acids. Students learn about different types of polymerisation, and how this process is linked to DNA. Next they study Chemical Analysis and students learn about different techniques for identifying unknown compounds such as chromatography and flame emission spectroscopy. In addition, they learn about the importance of pure substances and formulations within the context of food and pharmaceuticals. The year finishes off with Using Resources which is about materials, making water safe and being sustainable in manufacturing using life cycle assessments.
Students acquire knowledge and understanding of chemical facts, concepts and principles as well as being able to appreciate the practical nature of chemistry. They will develop experimental and investigative skills based on correct and safe laboratory techniques. GCSE Chemistry allows students to develop a logical approach to problem solving in a wider context and understand the widespread importance of chemistry and how materials are used in the world. The course will teach students how to evaluate, in terms of chemical knowledge and understanding, the benefits and drawbacks of real-life applications of science, including their everyday, industrial and environmental aspects. This process prepares students for more advanced courses in chemistry and for other courses which require a knowledge of chemistry.
You can follow the links below for BBC Bitesize content
Autumn Term 1: Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table (unit 1)
Autumn Term 2: Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter (unit 2)
Spring Term 1: Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter (unit 2), Quantitative Chemistry (unit 3)
Spring Term 2: Quantitative Chemistry (unit 3), Chemical Changes (unit 4)
Summer Term 1: Chemical Changes (unit 4), Energy Changes (unit 5)
Summer Term 2: Energy Changes (unit 5), The Rate and Extent of Chemical Change (unit 6)
Autumn Term 1: The Rate and Extent of Chemical Change (unit 6), Organic Chemistry (unit 7)
Autumn Term 2: Organic Chemistry (unit 7), Chemical Analysis (unit 8)
Spring Term 1: Chemistry of the Atmosphere (unit 9)
Spring Term 2: Using Resources (unit 10)
Summer Term: Revision and GCSE assessment
GCSE Chemistry Assessment
Two exams, each 1 hour 45min long and contributing 50% of the overall grade:
- Paper 1: units 1-5
- Paper 2: units 6-10
Students take both papers either at foundation level (grades 5-1) or at higher level (grades 9-4). Both papers contain a mixture of multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response questions.
In addition to the exams each student must complete 10 required practical activities, which although not assessed, are a compulsory component of the course.