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Test Tubes

Science Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact

Intent From the very big (power stations) to the very small (quarks- strange and colourful) From the very young (stem cell organ replacement) to the very old (cross breeding crops and livestock) From the fantastically complex (pulsating H-bonds in water) to the beautifully simple (snow flake crystals) - science has it all! The practical and the purely wonderful - something for everyone. In different dimensions science justifies its place as a core subject. But at Tenison’s we are not complacent. We engage curiosity from the get-go at the open evening and Year 6 taster day so that pupils are receptive to learning from at the start of their secondary school learning journey.


In Year 7 and 8 we develop observation and practical skills and foster early scientific literacy through key words in a broad range of Biology, Chemistry and Physics contexts. Foundational science concepts are extended in our 3-year GCSE programme, as well as developing the word power to write accurate descriptions and attempt deeper explanations Y9 through Y11. In sixth form our curriculum sharpens student’s capacity to plan and evaluate experiments along with greater rigour in explaining key concepts. Through all this we anticipate a strong set of GCSE results that contributes positively to the Attainment 8 score for all pupils and for the A-level students sets them up well to pursue further study. Just as importantly, through our curriculum we set out to equip every pupil to listen to current Science issues in wider society and have the understanding to follow debates, be informed and even contribute to decision making. By nurturing exceptional talent and interest through extra-curricular workshops and trips, such as the trip to CERN and the UK Space Design Competition, some of our pupils will continue their study of Biology, Chemistry, Physics, engineering or medicine to university and into careers.


Implementation: At the heart of our curriculum is building pupil’s confidence - with key knowledge, understanding and skills, both practical and problem solving. This is achieved by revisiting at an ever deeper level prior learning of key science concepts, e.g. cells, particles and energy at KS3, GCSE and again at A-level. Similarly, guiding pupils to use clear and scientific language to describe observation and stretching them to give explanations. Practical skills are developed by demonstrating the correct use of apparatus and empowering pupils understanding of the choice of variables in experiments. In small groups where they collaborate, pupils learn to solve the practical problems of effective experimenting and carry them out with increasing independence. With 4 periods per week in Y7 and 3 in Y8 and 9, we use this share of the school curriculum to develop a broad curriculum in the early years, employing mixed ability groups in Y7 and 8, and broad band setting in Y9. Our assessments are making the shift to every more effective preparation for an integrated rather than unitised model of learning, where pupils expect to remember and apply work covered in past months and years. At Y10 and 11, the setting allows us to offer a more differentiated curriculum: separate Science for the top/most motivated 25%, GCSE Combined Science at Higher tier for those aspiring to grades 6+ and Foundation tier for pupils whose likely ceiling is grade 5. Occasionally a few pupils with particular learning challenges will do the continuous assessments of the Entry Level Science, where they can gain 1, 2 or 3 at this level 1 qualification.


Impact: In Science almost all pupils show an enthusiasm for the practical learning contexts, most clearly at KS3. In truth, their responsiveness to every well-judged learning activity is evident with the level of energy and high levels of participation. The desire to do well in Science is evident across the key stages, with results that span the highest of grade. A KS3 we see the proportion of pupils gaining the Excelling band grow as Y7 and 8 continues. At GCSE Science grades are a strong contributor to pupils Attainment 8 at all prior attainment levels. At A-level ALPS has increased especially in Physics with the Biology staff team strengthened this year to fill gaps in provision. Destinations for our students post A-level include degree courses in biomedical science, pharmacy, medicine, veterinary science and the spectrum of engineering disciplines.

Science Curriculum


Year 7

  • Safety and Science induction

  • Cells

  • Particles and their behaviour

  • Forces

  • Elements, atoms and compounds

  • Sound

  • Photosynthesis

  • Space

  • Light

  • Acids and alkalis

  • Reproduction

  • Reactions


In Year 7 we also develop recording and observing skills, observation and planning skills as well as how to plan and create hypotheses.


Year 8

  • Health 

  • The Periodic Table

  • Electricity and magnetism

  • Energy

  • Structure and body systems

  • Metals and acids

  • Adaptation and inheritance

  • Separation techniques

  • The earth

  • Motion and pressure

In Year 8 we also we continue to develop recording and observing skills, observation and planning skills as well as how to plan and create hypotheses.



Edexcel GCSE Science

  • In Science, pupils are set according to their end of Key Stage 3 attainment. The 5 sets in Y10 and 11 follow these curriculum pathways as recommended by the department:


  • Set 1:  Triple Science (3 GCSEs) 

  • Sets 2, 3 and 4:  Combined Science (2 GCSEs) at Higher or Foundation tier 

  • Set 5:  Initially Combined Science GCSE Foundation tier with possible transfer to Entry Level Science. 


  • The starting point for all pupils at KS4 is GCSE Combined Science both comprising equal proportions of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  

  • The areas covered are broadly listed below covering a range of topics and is designed to give everyone a good grounding in Biology, Chemistry and Physics: 


Biology topics include: 

  • Topic 1 – Overarching concepts in Biology 

  • Topic 2 – Cells and control 

  • Topic 3 – Genetics 

  • Topic 9 – Ecosystems and material cycles          


Chemistry topics include:  

  • Topic 2 – States of matter 

  • Topic 3 – Methods of separating and purifying substances 

  • Topic 4 – Acids 

  • Topic 16 – Earth and atmospheric science 


Physics topics include:  

  • Topic 1 – Overarching concepts in Physics: motion, forces and conservation of energy 

  • Topic 2 – Waves 

  • Topic 3 – Light and the electromagnetic spectrum 

  • Topic 9 – Electricity and circuits 


  • All Science exams are taken at the end of Year 11

  • GCSE Science is 100% externally assessed (no coursework).

  • Assessment of practical skills:  Knowledge, understanding and skills are gained from doing the core practicals and will be assessed in the final exam. This element makes up 15% of marks in exam papers. 

  • Assessment of mathematical skills:  Foundation papers will test Key Stage 3 Maths skills. Higher papers will test KS4 Level 1 Maths skills.   This element makes up 10% of marks in exam papers in Biology, 20% in Chemistry and 30% in Physics.

  • Entry Level Science has no exams but has ongoing internal assessments. 

  • GCSE Biology/Chemistry/Physics each comprise 2 exams each of length 1hr 10 minutes. 

  • Combined Science comprises 6 exams (2 Biology, 2 Chemistry, 2 Physics) each of length 1hr 10 minutes. 



Edexcel A Level Biology

  • This course has been designed to engage and inspire students by giving them a fundamental understanding of biology that can be used in the real world and in further education.

  • Students are expected to have an interest in developing both the understanding of scientific ideas and their practical skills.

    • Paper 1:  A written paper lasting 2 hours - worth 33.3% of the A Level grade (100 marks).

    • The content examined in Paper 1 contains questions on topics 1-4, 5 and 6 as well as some AS topics

  • Paper 2:  A written paper lasting 2 hours - worth 33.3% of the A level grade (100 marks).

  • The content examined in Paper 2 contains questions on topics 1-4, 7 and 8 as well as some AS topics.


  • Paper 3: A written paper lasting 2 hours - worth 33.3% of the A level grade (100 marks)

  • This is a general paper assessing topics across the AS and A Level qualifications

  • The questions are based on a pre-release article.

  • There are questions on experimental methods (including questions on core practicals).

  • Students must carry out 9 core practicals each year to pass the practical element of the course.


OCR A Level Chemistry

  • This course gives the students a real opportunity to read and work with real life research and writing about science.

  •  It expands the students’ knowledge and develops their research and writing techniques.

  • The tasks help to apply knowledge to new contexts and bring together different aspects of learning.

  • Practical skills are integrated with the theoretical topics.

  • This course is about understanding the core concepts and acquiring key scientific skills that are essential to removing any barriers to learning.

  • The content is split into six teaching modules.

    • Module 1 - Development of practical skills in chemistry

    • Module 2 - Foundations of chemistry

    • Module 3 - Periodic table and energy

    • Module 4 - Core organic chemistry

    • Module 5 - Physical chemistry and transition elements

    • Module 6 - Organic chemistry and analysis

  • There will be a Practical endorsement in chemistry which is a non-examination assessment.

  • AS Level Assessment:  

    • H032/01 Breadth in Chemistry - 1 ½ hour; 50 %

    • H032/02 Depth in Chemistry - 1 ½ hours; 50% Assessment for A-level Internal

    • Practical endorsement throughout the year.

  • A Level Assessment:

    • Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry-2 hours 15 mins (37% of A level) 100 marks

    • Synthesis and analytical techniques – 2 hours 15 mins (37% of A level) 100 marks

    • Unified chemistry-1 ½ hours (26% of A level) 70 marks

    • Practical endorsement – non exam assessment throughout the year.



OCR A Level Physics

  • Physics at AS and A level requires from you and develops in you an intriguing range of skills: logical thought, written communication, practical skills and mathematical skills.

  • As Level Assessment:

    •  Physics consists of 3 modules leading to two AS exam papers and then two A2 exam papers in Year 13.

    • There is a varied programme of study:

    • Practical Experimental Skills: How to design experiments to answer scientific questions using lab equipment and then evaluate effectively.

    • Essential knowledge and tools: The main content is about manipulating vectors to solve force and velocity problems.

    • Forces and Motion: This is often referred to as ‘Mechanic’ in a traditional physics course.

    • Electrons, Waves and Photons:  Consisting of some of the really big physics questions only answered in the 20th century, such as is light a wave or a particle?

    • A-level Only:  Newtonian World and Astrophysics: Microscopic kinetic theory with evidence from macroscopic measurements, circular motion, gravity applied to circular orbits.

    • A-level Only:  Particles and Medical Physics:  Medical imaging through ultrasound, X-ray, CAT scan, gamma camera

  • As with all sciences, students will complete essential experiments which are recorded in a lab folder and assessed throughout the course.

  • The AS exam consists of 2 papers:           

    • Paper 1: Breadth in Physics which examines all topics in 90 minutes with multiple choice and short answer questions, worth 70 marks (50% of total).

    • Paper 2: Depth in Physics examining all topics in 90 minutes, with long “structured” questions, but also 6-mark QWC question like at GCSE, worth 70 marks (50% of total)

  • The A Level exam consists of 3 papers:

    • Paper 1:  Modelling Physics worth 100 marks.  This is a written paper lasting 2 hours 15 minutes (37% of total)

    • Paper 2:  Exploring Physics worth 100 marks.  This is a written paper lasting 2 hours 15 minutes (37% of total)

    • Paper 3:  Unified Physics worth 70 marks.  This is a written paper lasting 90 minutes (26% of total)

      There is also a practical endorsement – non exam assessment throughout the year.

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