Chemistry Curriculum

GCSE
The Science course we are now offering is the IGCSE course. We believe that this will provide a more rigorous course which leads to a better education in its own right, but will also equip pupils better than our previous courses, should they wish to study any of the sciences in the Sixth Form.

All pupils will continue their study of the three sciences in Years Four and Five. The basis of assessment is by terminal exam only, which is taken at the end of the Fifth Year. There are a maximum of 6 examinations that may be taken. All candidates will take a 2 hour paper (Paper 1) in each separate science. The majority of candidates will then take a further three additional 1 hour papers (Paper 2) in each science and will be awarded three IGCSE grades. Those candidates only taking Paper 1 will be awarded two IGCSE grades.

This is a linear scheme of assessment and there is no practical coursework component. Practical investigative skills will be assessed within the written exams and 20% of the marks will be awarded through questions testing these skills.

IB Chemistry (Higher & Standard Level)
Content

Core topics include:
Topic 1.     Stoichiometric Relationships
Topic 2.     Atomic Structure
Topic 3.     Periodicity
Topic 4.    Chemical Bonding and Structure
Topic 5.     Energetics/Thermochemistry
Topic 6.     Chemical Kinetics
Topic 7.     Equilibrium
Topic 8.     Acids and Bases
Topic 9.     Redox Processes
Topic 10.   Organic Chemistry
Topic 11.   Measurement and Data Processing.

At Higher Level (HL), the ‘Core Topics’ are looked at in greater breadth and depth. This makes up the ‘Additional Higher Level’ content (AHL).

How the course is taught
Both the Higher Level and Standard Level courses are taught by two subject teachers. Throughout each course, students will gain an awareness of the role of the collaborative nature of Chemistry in the 21st century and its universal role in the development of new technologies.

As each course develops, reference is made to the historical context of chemical ideas and to the scientists who pioneered such advances. Key ideas and concepts are developed slowly as the course progresses, thus ensuring that revision is an on-going process. Students who would otherwise find the subject to be difficult are therefore supported throughout the whole length of the course. At the same time, students who find the work less demanding are offered plenty of challenges and stimulation.

Practical work and the use of computer software and calculators are interwoven with the teaching programme from the very start and students are supervised through the process of completing their Internal Assessment. Learning resources are available through the Chemistry Department Virtual Learning Environment.

Course guidance materials, which students can expect to receive, are booklets containing a syllabus, scientific data, the programme of study and details regarding the Extended Essay. A course revision guide is also available.

Expectations/Homework
Throughout the Sixth Form, the student is responsible for his/her own studies.

Subject teachers set tasks according to an agreed work programme, which helps students manage their time. All students are expected to engage fully in lessons and need to be willing to share their ideas. They are expected to keep up to date as the sequential nature of much of the course will cause difficulties for those students who fall behind. Students are also expected to be resourceful, committed to intellectual enquiry and to read and research widely in order to support their independent learning. They will need to devote time to honing their problem-solving skills by working independently outside the classroom.

Students are responsible for making their own notes, alongside those given to them by their teachers.  They will also be expected to read through information prior to a lesson, so that problems encountered can be discussed and resolved during the lesson.

Each student will start producing written practical work, which meets the Internal Assessment criteria, from the latter half of the Lower Sixth so that, by the end of the academic year, students will have completed several practice assessments. Further assessments in the form of a complete investigation will then be completed in Upper Sixth. Each investigation is graded out of 24 marks and the marks for the best investigation will be submitted to the IBO for moderation.

Internal Assessment (IA) consists of 5 skill areas, 4 of which require the submission of written work from the student.  The five skill areas, together with their raw marks and % weighting, are:

Written Assessment Exploration (6 marks; 25%)
Analysis  (6 marks; 25%)
Evaluation (6 marks; 25%)
Communication (4 marks; 17%)

Observed Assessment Personal Engagement (2 marks; 8%)

Students will also have to complete a piece of work in what is known as the Group 4 Project, which directly relates to the development of experimental and investigative skills.

The Group 4 Project is a collaborative activity where students from different Group 4 subjects work together on a scientific or technological topic, allowing for concepts and perceptions from across the disciplines to be shared. This allows students to develop an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge. The project can be practically or theoretically based.

The Group 4 Project also allows students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science and technology. It may also allow them to understand the limitations of scientific study, for example, the shortage of appropriate data and/or the lack of resources. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary cooperation and the processes involved in scientific investigation, rather than the products of such investigation.

The choice of scientific or technological topic is open but the project should clearly address specific aims of the Group 4 subjects. Ideally, the project should involve students collaborating with those from other Group 4 subjects at all stages. To this end, it is not necessary for the topic chosen to have clearly identifiable separate subject components.

The Extended Essay
Higher Level students may wish to consider Chemistry as the focus for their Extended Essay, particularly if they intend to study Chemistry or a closely-related discipline at university. Students are free to select any topic and it should be noted that the assessment criteria give credit for the nature of the investigation and for the extent that reasoned arguments are applied to an appropriate research question. Students are expected to extend their knowledge beyond that encountered in the Diploma Programme Chemistry course. There must be sufficient explanation and commentary throughout the Extended Essay to ensure that the reader does not lose sight of the purpose of the essay and it must be completed within 4,000 words. Up to five hours of staff supervision are available to assist with the planning, research and execution of the Extended Essay.

Preparatory Work
Students are provided with introductory material to study before embarking on the course. Students are then assessed on this material within the first week of term.

A Level Chemistry
Content

The course of study will be OCR A Level Chemistry B (Salters). The course is linear (run over 2 years), and examined at the end of the two years. There will be no retakes available.

The course takes students on a journey through several Storylines, while introducing chemical concepts in a spiral approach. Each Storyline contains a variety of chemical ideas and forms the basis of a single Module, of which there are ten.

Modules 1 to 5 constitute the first year course, whilst Modules 1 to 10 will be studied in the second year of the course.

These Storylines engage students through learning in a contemporary context and range from concerns about the ozone layer to the development of new medicines.

There is no longer any coursework and this is replaced by an emphasis on providing students with opportunities to develop and practise their investigational and problem-solving skills. There are many opportunities for practical work signposted throughout the A Level course, encouraging hands-on practical skills. These skills are assessed at the end of the A Level course. The course also emphasises chemical literacy skills, which again are assessed at the end of the A Level course.

How the course is taught
The OCR Chemistry B (Salters) course provides a strong foundation for further study at University, whilst offering an interesting programme of study for those who are unlikely to take Chemistry beyond A Level. It is usually taught by two subject teachers.

The A Level syllabus encourages concepts and key ideas to be developed slowly as the course progresses. This ensures that revision is an on-going process. Important chemical concepts are introduced in one topic before being reinforced in later topics. This approach offers considerable support for students by allowing frequent opportunities to remind them of earlier work. Students who would otherwise find the subject difficult are therefore supported throughout each course. At the same time, students who find the work less demanding are offered plenty of challenges, scope and stimulation by the open-ended nature of much of the work.

The A Level course is lively, stimulating and interesting. School Chemistry is brought up-to-date by looking at the frontiers where the latest scientific discoveries are being made and by showing the importance of Chemistry in the modern world. Ten Storylines provide the context in which chemical ideas and skills are developed. A range of activities, including laboratory practical work, group exercises and discussions, data analysis, applications of ICT and simulations, all involving key skills, are woven into and complement each Storyline. Each Storyline is self-contained and worth studying in its own right.

The essential chemical principles behind each Storyline are presented in a dedicated textbook (Chemical Ideas) and are developed gradually as the course progresses. They are also supported by an extensive series of problems, which not only test student understanding but also require students to apply chemical ideas and concepts to new and unfamiliar situations.

Course guidance materials, which students can expect to receive, are booklets containing syllabus learning objectives, scientific data, details of the A Level course, classroom activities and practical work. A course revision guide is also available.

A summary showing the connection between the first and second years of the A Level course is as follows:

Expectations/Homework
Throughout the Sixth Form, the student is responsible for his/her own studies.

Subject teachers set tasks according to an agreed work programme, which helps students to manage their time. Students studying A Level Chemistry can expect 4-5 hours of homework each week. They are expected to engage fully in lessons, keep up to date and to read and research widely in order to support their independent learning. To be successful, students will also need to devote time to honing their problem-solving skills by working independently outside the classroom, to be resourceful and committed to intellectual enquiry and research.

Students are responsible for making their own notes, alongside those given to them by their teachers.  They will also be expected to read through information prior to a lesson, so that problems encountered can be discussed and resolved during the lesson.

Preparatory Work
Students are provided with introductory material to study before embarking on the A Level course. Students are then assessed on this material within the first week of term.