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Wexham School

Wexham School
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Science (Biology, Chemistry & Physics)

The Team and Facilities:

The science department is accommodated on the first floor of a purpose built, science and technology building. The science suit comprises of six well equipped laboratories with an additional computer room available for timetabled lessons and/or private study. There is also a fully stocked preparation room for practical learning activities, which are at the core of our teaching and learning practice. Each room has an interactive white board with a projector and Apple TV to further enrich learning experience. A classroom is also available for assessments and some of our ongoing intervention programme which supports students as they prepare for the key stage 4 and 5 examinations. An additional resource is available via one of the school’s learning resource centres which is located at the end of the science corridor. Students are able to take advantage of this facility for research and individual study throughout the day.

The science department is fully staffed with eight experienced, specialist teachers trained to teach each of the three science subjects using a variety of up to date resources, specifically developed to meet the needs of our students. We recognize that the requirements of students new to the science subjects in year 7 are very different to those in year 13 with a place at university waiting for them the following year, but all benefit from the high quality curriculum and bespoke tuition that we provide. All students make progress and the departmental staff meet weekly to share best practice and ensure that student progress through engagement continues to be a priority.


Key Stage 3:

Science in year 7 and 8 are taught in mixed ability groups where a love of the subject is embedded and the skills for success in later years are introduced. The key stage 3 course includes biology, chemistry and physics topics focusing on the foundation principles required to enjoy and appreciate all that science can offer. Regular assessment takes place to ensure that we are meeting the learning and developmental needs of each student and that support can be provided in the right areas.

A weekly science club is well attended by year 7 students who have the opportunity explore their love for science through a wide range of activities which support learning, but are not strictly part of the taught curriculum. Student favourites include; making slime, launching the oxygen-hydrogen rocket, margarine tub bowls, methane bubbles, testing for hydrogen, laboratory lightning, to name, but a few.


Key Stage 4:

Key stage 4 begins in year 9 with a nationally recognised qualification which gives students the opportunity to achieve a certificated award. This science specification provides excellent progression to combined or separate sciences to suit students who will progress to study one of these qualifications for GCSE and then on to A-level in key stage 5. This qualification is linear which means that students are tested in each component at the end of the course. There are six components;


Component 1
Biology: The human body

Component 2
Biology: Environment, evolution and inheritance 


Component 3
Chemistry: Elements, mixtures and compounds

Component 4
Chemistry: Chemistry in our world 


Component 5
Physics: Energy, forces and the structure of matter

Component 6
Physics: Electricity, magnetism and waves

The assessment uses straightforward language in the tests to allow students to focus on the science and achieve the results they deserve.

In year 10 and 11 most students follow the new GCSE course developed by AQA, it’s similar to the previous core and additional science GCSEs in that it’s a double award: providing two GCSEs with subject content and practical work that also appears in the separate science (biology, chemistry & physics) GCSEs, giving students the best possible preparation for A-level science. Practical, hands on science is as fundamental to learning at GCSE as it was in key stage 3 so students must complete a series of required practicals, before sitting six exam papers: two biology, two chemistry and two physics. Each of the papers will assess knowledge and understanding from distinct topic areas. The new style exams have fewer words, fewer contexts that have previously confused students, and now the questions start simply and increase in difficulty to build the student’s confidence and maximize their performance. This is another linear qualification so students will sit all their exams at the end of the course covering the following topics;


  • Cell biology
  • Organisation
  • Infection and response
  • Bioenergetics
  • Homeostasis and response
  • Inheritance, variation and evolution
  • Ecology


  • Atomic structure and the periodic table
  • Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter
  • Quantitative chemistry
  • Chemical changes
  • Energy changes
  • The rate and extent of chemical change
  • Organic chemistry
  • Chemical analysis
  • Chemistry of the atmosphere
  • Using resources


  • Energy
  • Electricity
  • Particle model of matter
  • Atomic structure
  • Forces
  • Waves
  • Magnetism and electromagnetism

Separate sciences have a very similar in structure to what is outlined above, but the assessment differs in that the biology, chemistry and physics content is assessed separately resulting in three independent GCSEs, one in each of the science specialisms. A select group follow this course after being identified in year 9 as have a particular aptitude for science and an exceptional work ethic.

Both of these courses equip students with skills and knowledge transferable to both educational and career settings, and provides a worthwhile course for students of various ages and from diverse backgrounds in terms of general education and lifelong learning.


Key Stage 5:

Biology and Chemistry

Both of these qualifications are offered to students in key stage 5 and they follow a broadly similar structure in that there are AS-level and A-level options. The AS-level qualifications cover roughly half of the full A-level content and are tested at the end of year 12 through two externally examined papers each lasting 1 hour 30 minutes. In addition, the students must carrying out 6 required practicals to ensure that the students will have experienced the use of a range of apparatus and techniques to develop their practical skills.

Students will study the following biology topics:

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Cells
  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

Or topics from these areas of chemistry:

  • physical chemistry
  • inorganic chemistry
  • organic chemistry

In order to begin an AS-level biology or chemistry course, students must achieve C grades in either separate science, biology, chemistry and physics or two C grades in combined science. Maths and English GCSEs are also required to at least grade C standard.

The full A-level qualifications in biology or chemistry are similar to the AS-level qualifications, but there are three externally examined papers and a Science Practical Endorsement. The exam papers are each 2 hours and the endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A-level. This will be assessed by teachers and will be based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams. The Biology A-level requires that students attend an off site environmental biology field course which in previous years has been at Juniper Hall Field Centre near Dorking.

There is also additional content, over and above the AS-levels. In biology students will study the following additional topics:

  1. Energy transfers in and between organisms
  2. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
  3. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
  4. The control of gene expression

Chemistry retains the same three areas but with extra content:

  • physical chemistry
  • inorganic chemistry
  • organic chemistry

The entry requirements that students must meet are B grades in either separate science, biology, chemistry and physics or two B grades in combined science as well as Maths and English GCSEs to at least grade C standard.


Subject Year Group Exam Board Specification
Science 9 AQA GCSE Combined Science Trilogy (8464)
Science 10 AQA

GCSE Combined Science Trilogy (8464)


Separate Science: Biology (8461), Chemistry (8462) and Physics (8463)

Science 11 AQA

GCSE Science A (4405) and Additional Science (4408)


AQA Science: Biology (4401), Chemistry (4402), Physics (4403)

Biology 12/13 AQA AQA AS and A Level Biology (7401 and 7402)
Chemistry 12/13 AQA AQA AS and A Level Chemistry (7404 and 7405)