Initially we hope to inspire and excite students about the chemistry of the world in which they live. We hope to achieve this by teaching the basic principles and experimental techniques that are the foundations of Chemistry using interesting situations that are applicable to the modern world.
Further up the school we aim to combine the rigour required for academic success with enjoyment of learning and appreciation of the role that Chemistry plays in our society.
Staff and facilities
We have five well equipped laboratories. One of the laboratories incorporates six fume cupboards for A-level experimental work of a more hazardous nature.
The department is staffed by eight full-time teachers and three highly qualified technicians.
Subject time per 10-day cycle
- Lower school – three lessons with one hour of homework
- GCSE – five lessons with two hours of homework
- A-level – 10 lessons with additional individual study
Chemistry in the Lower School
Chemistry is taught as a separate science.
The course is designed to offer as much practical work and investigative Chemistry as possible to help students develop the skills of fair testing and analysis. The pupils gain an appreciation of Chemistry’s place in society by exploring subjects such as pollution.
In the Third Year we build the foundations for success at GCSE, both in the chemical theory of atoms, formulae and equations and by making links with the other sciences in practical experiments.
Chemistry further up the school
At GCSE we follow the Edexcel IGCSE syllabus. The range of topics is extended and practical skills are further developed.
This is a traditional, linear course with all exams taken at the end of the Fifth Year. While there is no coursework component, the practical demand is high and the pupils undertake a huge range of experiments to further their understanding of the content being taught.
We follow the OCR A syllabus for the new, linear qualification. There are three exams at the end of the Upper Sixth year and there is no coursework: Practical skills will be assessed by the teacher and reported independently from the A-level grade.
Lower Sixth Year topics include:
- Atoms and Reactions
- Amount of Substance
- Electrons, Bonding and Structure
- The Periodic Table
- Basic Concepts of Organic Chemistry and Hydrocarbons
- Alcohols, Haloalkanes and Analysis
Upper Sixth Year topics include:
- Further Organic Chemistry including Aromatics, Amines and Carboxylic acids
- Polymers and Synthetic pathways
- Analysis and Spectroscopy
- Kinetics and Equilibria
- Acid base equilibrium, pH and buffer solutions
- Thermodynamics and entropy
- Transition Elements
The department enters teams of pupils into a number of competitions throughout the A-level years including the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Schools’ Analyst Competition and both Upper and Lower Sixth Form Olympiads.
There are plenty of opportunities to extend knowledge and thinking beyond the confines of the specification and we organise lectures and visits by external speakers and university staff. Chemistry is required by a number of university courses and you should check admissions literature carefully. Whatever your chosen career path, the Chemistry course will improve your problem solving and analytical skills.
There is a Lower School Chemistry Club which meets once a week to perform exciting experiments which are outside the normal sphere of the syllabus. Chemistry Clinic is run weekly by Sixth Form chemists where Lower School pupils can get support with topics they find difficult.
Third Years can take the opportunity to run their own research project for which they might win a creativity in science, engineering and technology Bronze award. The Silver award is run for enthusiastic Fifth Years.
Each year we enter the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Chemquiz where the team is made up from pupils in the Second, Third and Fourth Years.
Trips and competitions
We run trips each year – last year we attended the Science Live! series of lectures at Manchester University and this year pupils will be attending the Royal Society’s summer science exhibition in London.
Second year pupils are invited to attend an annual Salters’ festival of chemistry based at a local university. The festival provides pupils with the opportunity to attend university for the day and perform a series of supervised experiments in university laboratories.
The CREST Awards – which gives participants the opportunity to explore real-world science, technology, engineering and maths projects in an exciting way – has been extended to include pupils from third, fourth and fifth years.
Sixth Formers have the opportunity to enter the Schools’ Analyst Competition, attend lectures at Manchester University on A-level topics and become involved in the Chemistry Olympiad where we have a good record of success, with some pupils coming in the top 2% in the UK in 2022.