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Science

Nobody boasts about their ignorance of literature, but often it is socially acceptable to claim an ignorance of science. As a department we aim to ensure that our students are well-educated in Biology, Chemistry and Physics so that they do not hold this view.

Through their studies in Science, our pupils acquire a full understanding and knowledge of the concepts, principles and applications of Science so that they may become confident citizens in a technological world and are suitably prepared to embark upon post-school studies. We develop skills that are relevant to the practice of Science in everyday life. We stimulate curiosity, interest and enjoyment in Science.

The department is staffed by seven specialist teachers and two technicians, and the Biology, Physics and Chemistry taught as discrete Sciences from the start of Senior School. We have excellent facilities and resources which enable us to deliver a high-class level of teaching and learning. The department has five well-equipped laboratories and two preparatory rooms, all furnished to a very high standard.

Staff

The department is managed by Miss McLaren, Head of Science, Dr Upcott Head of Physics, and Mr Bartram Head of Biology. All members of the department are well qualified and experienced and they inspire their students with their own enthusiasm and interest in their particular fields.

Extra-curricular activities

The Biology department offers the most fantastic animal club for Years 7 and 8. Our FHS zoo contains chinchillas, gerbils, hamsters, geckos, fish, Cuddles the snake, Bobby the tortoise and Toby the tarantula!

Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8)

Throughout the lower school all students study a balance of the sciences. This is taught in the three subject areas of Biology, Chemistry and Physics with close collaboration between specialist teachers. The students enjoy a rich experience in practical work as well as developing a sound understanding and knowledge of Science. Trips to exhibitions and events, including visits to the nearby Science Museum and Natural History Museum are arranged each year.

In Years 7 and 8, the National Curriculum is followed in most respects, but with more emphasis on traditional school Science aimed at giving a deeper understanding of the basic principles of the subject. In Year 9, students will embark upon their IGCSE courses.

IGCSE

Students will be taught either the Edexcel Double Award IGCSE Science or or Triple Science (separate IGCSE Biology, IGCSE Chemistry and IGCSE Physics).

Both courses are a suitable preparation for students to follow any of the sciences at A level, although the separate Science courses provide a better grounding for future study.

Double Award IGCSE

IGCSE Science qualification is a double award.  This means that it is worth two IGCSEs.

Students learn about the basic principles of Biology, Chemistry and Physics through a mix of theoretical and practical studies, whilst also developing an understanding of the scientific skills essential for further study.  Students learn how science is studied and practised, and become aware that the results of scientific research can have both good and bad effects on individuals, communities and the environment.  As well as focusing on the individual sciences, the syllabus therefore enables students to better understand the technological world in which they live, and take an informed interest in science and scientific developments.

Biology

Why study Biology?

Biology involves the study of a wide range of exciting topics, ranging from molecular biology to the study of ecosystems and from micro-organisms to mammoths. Biology is never far from the headlines either. The human genome has been sequenced and we now know the complete arrangement of the three thousand million bases that make up human DNA. In Kenya 350 people die every day from AIDS and in South East Asia the skies are dark with smoke as the last Bornean rainforests are burned to grow oil palms. Biologists are concerned with all these issues. They work in the fields of Cell biology, Medicine, Food production and Ecology and the work they do is vital to us all.

IGCSE Biology

This course leads to an IGCSE at the end of year 11 and we follow the Edexcel specification. This course provides a thorough basis for further studies in Biology for A level and practical work is an essential element of the course. Core topics covered include; The blood system, Ecology, Genetics, Cell structure, Photosynthesis, Decay, Enzymes, Homeostasis, Respiration, the Kidney, and Micro-organisms. There is also a strong emphasis on topical issues such as Genetic engineering, Drugs and health, Ethical problems in modern medicine and the Environment.

A level Biology

A level Biology builds on and extends the areas studied in IGCSE and also introduces new topics and practical work forms an integral part of the course.

In the first year AS there are two main units: ‘Biology and disease' and ‘The variety of living organisms' plus a practical assignment which is designed to sharpen pupils' investigative skills. These units give a solid grounding in Biology.

In the second year A2 there are two main units; ‘Populations and Environment' and Control in cells and in organisms' plus another practical assignment.

Who takes this course?

Biology is one of the most popular A level subjects in the country, attracting students studying a wide range of other subjects, both Sciences and Arts. Many of these students enjoy the subject so much they eventually choose a biologically related degree course such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, physiotherapy, pharmacy, optometry, nursing, zoology, marine biology or forensic science. Others go on to careers in law, computing, accounting or teaching. So, whatever field pupils will eventually work in, they will find biology a very rewarding and challenging course which will develop many of the skills essential for a successful career.

Chemistry

Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry affects every facet of our lives aby studying it we improve out understanding of the world around us. Chemistry isn't secret knowledge, useless to anyone but a scientist. It's the explanation for everyday things, like why laundry detergent works better in hot water or how baking soda works or why not all pain relievers work equally well on a headache. If you know some chemistry, you can make educated choices about everyday products that you use. All of the materials used by engineers and technologists are made by chemical reactions and we all experience chemical reactions continuously, whether it be breathing or baking a cake, driving a car or listening to a battery driven MP3 player. Chemistry is concerned with all aspects of molecules, their physical and chemical properties, their composition and structure, their synthesis and use in the 21st century.

IGCSE Chemistry

This course in Chemistry leads to an IGCSE at the end of Year 11 and we follow the Edexcel specification. As well as a subject focus, the IGCSE Chemistry syllabus enables students to better understand the technological world in which they live, and take an informed interest in science and scientific developments. Students learn about the basic principles of Chemistry through a mix of theoretical and practical studies.

Students also develop an understanding of the scientific skills essential for further study at A Level, skills which are useful in everyday life.

However, even if the subject is not pursued beyond IGCSE, the course will provide a good basic understanding of materials, their importance and how they interact with each other. The problem-solving, numeric and investigative skills obtained will be useful in many walks of life, but particularly in other science subjects.

Course content:

Section 1: Principles of chemistry 
Section 2: Chemistry of the elements 
Section 3: Organic chemistry 
Section 4: Physical chemistry 
Section 5: Chemistry in society

Examination Details
Year 11- one 2 hour written paper Chemistry 1 and one 1 hour written paper Chemistry 2 are sat in the summer term of year 11. 

Chemistry 1 paper contributes 66.7% and Chemistry 2 paper contributes 33.3% to the total of IGCSE Chemistry.

Beyond GCSE

This specification provides opportunities for candidates to:
•    Develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for science
•    Develop a critical approach to scientific evidence and methods
•    Acquire and apply skills, knowledge and understanding of how science works and its essential role in society
•    Acquire the scientific skills, knowledge and understanding necessary for progression to further learning

A level Chemistry

Francis Holland follows the AQA specification which offers ample opportunity for experimental work. A-level Chemistry goes into much more detail than GCSE. It attempts to answer the big question ‘what is the world made of’. It is the search for this answer that makes this subject so fascinating. From investigating how one substance can be changed drastically into another, to researching a new wonder drug to save millions of lives, the opportunities that chemistry provides are endless. 

New Specification (Linear A level)

AQA 7405

First year of A-level

What’s included?
Physical chemistry: Atomic structure, amount of substance, bonding, energetics, kinetics, chemical equilibrium and Le Chatelier’s principle.

Inorganic chemistry: Periodicity, Group 2 (the alkaline earth metals) and Group 7 (the halogens).

Organic chemistry: Introduction to organic chemistry, alkanes, halogen alkanes, alkenes, alcohols and organic analysis

Second year of A-level 

What’s included?
Physical chemistry: Thermodynamics, rate equations, the equilibrium constant, electrode potentials and electrochemical cells.

Inorganic chemistry; Properties of Period 3 elements and their oxides, transition metals and reactions of ions in aqueous solution.

Organic chemistry: Optical isomerism, aldehydes and ketones, carboxylic acids and derivatives, aromatic chemistry, amines, polymers, amino acids, proteins and DNA, organic synthesis, NMR spectroscopy and chromatography

Practicals

Chemistry, like all sciences, is a practical subject. Throughout the course pupils will carry out practical activities including: • measuring energy changes in chemical reactions • tests for identifying different types of compound • different methods for measuring rates of reaction • studying electrochemical cells • preparation of organic solids and liquids • an advanced form of chromatography for more accurate results

Who takes this course?

Chemistry at Advanced GCE Level is a prerequisite for many courses at university and for many areas of employment. It is also a long-established and respected qualification that allows progression into a number of subjects at university including Chemistry itself, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering and related subjects. However, Chemistry graduates enter many disciplines. A degree in Chemistry is a qualification that is highly regarded in today's world; technically adept individuals remain essential to our rapidly developing society and chemists find careers in law, finance and computing as well as areas which use the degree directly. Chemistry is a subject of global impact. As a fundamental science Chemistry has a profound effect on our planet and is involved in nearly every facet of everyday life. Almost every new technological change and important discovery has its foundation in Chemistry.

Physics

Why study Physics?

Physics has no limits – everything in your life, on this planet, other planets, to the far reaches of the universe is in the physics' job description. Physics deals with the big questions and helps us to understand why things happen and how our universe works. In our daily lives we'd be a bit lost without physics. It has helped in the development of all the gadgets we take for granted – laptops, computers, cars etc. There would be no electricity supply to help things work. The world-wide-web was invented by a physicist. Recent amazing discoveries have shown that physics remains at the forefront of discovery. Massive black holes at the centre of the Milky Way, the possibility of teleportation and the recreation of the conditions shortly after the Big Bang are all currently being investigated by physicists.

IGCSE Physics

The course enables you to gain an IGCSE in Physics by the end of Year 11 and we follow the Edexcel specification. The course consists of topics that range from studying the very small such as electrons and radioactive particles to the very large when we look stars and galaxies that are billions and billions of kilometres away. In between are topics such as motion, light, sound and energy in which we observe effects in the laboratory. There are opportunities to develop practical skills and to find out how physics is applicable to society.

The IGCSE Physics course provides a solid foundation for further study at A level, but is also an excellent course if you are interested in having a better awareness and understanding of the world around you.

Examination Details
Year 11- one 2 hour written paper Physics 1 and one 1 hour written paper Physics 2 are sat in the summer term of year 11. 
Physics 1 paper counts for 67% and Physics 2 paper counts for 33% of the total.

 

A level Physics

Many of the concepts you meet at IGCSE are continued into A level Physics. Forces, energy, waves, radioactivity, electricity and magnetism are all covered. At A level, however, you will begin to see how these ideas work together and you will begin to grasp how universal principles apply to everything from the smallest atom to the largest galaxy. Physics is a very dynamic subject and many recent discoveries have changed the way we look at the universe. Quantum physics, astronomical discoveries and implications for the universe, the fundamental particles formed in accelerators such as at CERN, medical applications of physics, nuclear power and relativity are all studied in A level Physics.

We follow the OCR A level Physics course A. Assessment is by three written papers at the end of the second year of study. Practical skills are assessed within these papers, and there are a number of experiments that need to be completed to attain practical endorsement.

After A level Physics

A level Physics is a very highly regarded academic subject. It is respected because you will learn many problem-solving and practical skills that are desired by universities and many employers. Perhaps the greatest skill a physics student develops is a sense of wonder about how things work, from technology such as a DVD to the dynamics of the Universe. Physics teaches us a method of systematic thinking as well as the theories to enable us to understand. For those with an ambition to be at the forefront of technologies or discovery it is necessary to study physics at school and beyond. For students with ambitions in other areas such as business management or finance the study of physics is also important even if those students don't intend to study physics or science at university. Physics is also a recommended for those interested in medicine, engineering, ICT, Law, architecture and many other careers for which detailed analysis is important.

Science is a great game. It is inspiring and refreshing. The playing field is the Universe itself

Isidor Isaac Rabi (1898-1988) U.S. physicist and Nobel prize 1944.

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