Devizes School Learning & Education

KS4 Science

GCSE Biology

We start the Biological journey in year 9, summarising the basics of cell biology and organisation. To this end, we encourage students to start developing their application of knowledge by linking different key points from the specification. Questioning and recall skills that have been developed in year 7 and 8 will be extended upon by getting the students to develop their own arguments and explanations all of which should be coherent.

We employ the use of the light microscope at the start of Year 9 and use this to discover cells, being the key units of life, they are an important foundation for Biologists. We look at the cell contents, how they are adapted to meet their function and how the organisation of organisms into cells, tissues, organs and organ systems is crucial to the inner workings of all organisms.

During year 10, we review at how Disease affects the body and why humans are adapted to resist infection. Primary and secondary defence systems are studied and the use of drugs to treat these ailments will be discussed. On the plant side, we look at energy transfers and nutrient cycles within ecosystems. We open the students minds to the fact that living organisms interdepend on each other and thus show adaptations to their environment. We will start by looking at the foundations of life itself, photosynthesis and respiration, and the cruciality of these processes to occur in living organisms. The details of photosynthesis will be covered, including the core processes of aerobic and anaerobic respiration.

By the end of key stage 4 we expect students to have a thorough understanding of basic biological principles and be able to use them in both GCSE papers. Homeostasis allows students to realise that the body works within specific conditions and everything is monitored by the body’s internal systems. Inheritance topic is one of the last we look at in year 11 and includes: meiosis, the principles of variation, how gametes fuse and sexual and asexual reproduction. The students will gain a large breadth of information on how an organism’s characteristics are affected by their genome and its interaction with the environment. We can interconnect this topic with Bioenergetics from year 10 to ensure deeper understanding of evolution and biodiversity.

Challenging Key stage 4 students to consider the wider world by looking at case studies and journal articles before progressing into A Level ensures they are well prepared for the questions that face them in the future.

GCSE Chemistry

In KS4 Chemistry, students will build on the solid foundations from KS3 and apply this knowledge to the complex and diverse wonders of the natural world. This is achieved through the teaching of the fundamental concepts and key ideas of Chemistry.

Students begin their journey in Year 9 learning about what matter is composed of, the properties of elements of the periodic table and their relationship to their atomic structure. Moving on to how substances react, the structures they form and the reasons why they behave in the way they do. Students will gain a good understanding of how scientists use this knowledge of structure and bonding to engineer new materials with desirable properties. The properties of these materials may offer new applications in a range of different technologies.

Year 10 builds on this and delves deeper into the specifics of chemical reactions. Students will learn about the reactions of metals, acids and bases, as well as, energy changes during those reactions. These fundamental reactions and the process of investigating them led to, and is still leading to, the development of numerous useful products, materials and processes. Year 10 continues with the study of the rate of chemical reactions. In industry, chemists and chemical engineers determine the effect of different variables on reaction rate and yield of product. Towards the end of Year 10 students will study crude oil, the useful products obtained from it and how they are obtained. Chemists are able to take organic molecules and modify them in many ways to make new and useful materials such as polymers, pharmaceuticals, perfumes and flavourings, dyes and detergents.

Year 11 begins with quantitative chemistry. A topic covering the essential calculations that any budding chemist would need. Chemists use quantitative analysis to determine the formulae of compounds and the equations for reactions. Given this information, analysts can then use quantitative methods to determine the purity of chemical samples and to monitor the yield from chemical reactions. The year then moves on to the study of the chemistry of the atmosphere and the use of the Earth’s resources. Both these topics focus on the ideas of green chemistry and sustainability, which are crucial concepts for students to grasp in our changing world. Pollution, disposal of waste products and changing land use has a significant effect on the environment, and environmental chemists study how human activity has affected the Earth’s natural cycles, and how damaging effects can be minimised.

GCSE Physics

Our KS4 scheme of work is designed for versatility and accessibility for all ability ranges. The broad nature of the course is designed to allow all students to succeed in physics, regardless of their post-16 paths, with particular emphasis on theoretical, practical and assessment skills.

The sequence of learning is designed for:

  • Exposure to a wide breadth of topics, consolidating on the depth offered at KS3, to produce well rounded adults;
  • Trialled practical experiments that hone the general skillsets introduced at KS3, requiring more critical and analytical thinking for the students to justify their choices by application of theory to shape their outcomes;
  • Contextual immersion into relevant societal issues related to physics, in order to further enrich the interest of students;
  • Developing independent research and critical thinking skills, reflected in the nature of the home learning that is set;
  • Championing success in summative assessments, to achieve the GCSE grades that the students deserve;
  • A drive to advance the use of scientific vocabulary, as we believe that adequate exposure will result in functional life skills, in later life.

In Year 9, our students begin by looking at matter, the 4% of the universe that we interact with. The particle model is used to predict the behaviour of solids, liquids, and gases, and has many applications in daily life, from keeping our food hot or cold to the design of submarines or spacecraft. This unit links closely to the work covered during KS3, and dives deeper into the relationship between the states of matter and the effects of temperature. Students follow this later in the year with a unit on energy, perhaps the singularly most important concept in physics. Our universe runs on energy, and all objects, people, and devices work by changing energies. Add to that a world moving ever closer to its physical limits, and an understanding of energies, fossil fuels, and alternative methods for generating energy become crucial for scientists globally to design innovative solutions to global warming and the effects of climate change.

Year 10 begins with electricity, the foundation of the information age and modern society. Discovering the atomic-scale mechanics of electric circuits, and the grand scale in which they are used, means that students can develop an understanding of the way they are utilised in our own lives. With continually more powerful devices fitting into our pockets and into our homes, we develop a broad knowledge of the behaviour of circuits, devices, and electrical safety. The students then follow this with one of the more dangerous and unstable aspects of physics: radioactivity. It is hard to imagine a world without nuclear energy – or indeed the effects of it – but physicists over the last one hundred years have managed to tame the unpredictable decay of atoms and use in everything from medicine to agriculture, and even to probe the nature of matter itself.

In their final year, our students will turn their attention to three topics. First look at forces, the invisible mechanics of the universe that are responsible for pushing and pulling everything around, and motion, the observed effects of forces. An understanding of forces is important for anyone wishing to design… anything! Cars, washing machines, chairs, even cat beds – whether it’s aerodynamics or softness, they have all been designed with forces in mind. The second half will look at the ways in which these forces change objects. Developing the language to describe these interactions as well as quantifying them through experiments is important for budding engineers and textile designers alike. The second topic focuses on waves and the mechanics behind them. Water waves at sea, sound waves at a concert, and light emitted from our sun all obey some fundamental rules, and our students set out to determine these. This knowledge is taken further as we look for uses for waves in modern life, from solar power to fibreoptic internet. The third topic is on electromagnetism, and ties together aspects from across the physics course. Here the understanding of electric circuits, energy, and forces work together to either generate an electric current or produce a magnetic force. This relationship is an old, well respected core of physics, and it’s application can be seen in the 1890’s when electric motors were used for the first electric cars.

Devizes students who study the single science Physics course will have an additional unit in Year 11: space physics. Here, students question where everything came from, and how long it has been around, and just how far apart everything is. Astronomy, astrophysics, and cosmology are all delving deeper into the universe around us and the objects that are discovered, and we look at the fundamental concepts that have been used to uncover the history of the universe.

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