Science is all about making sense of the world around and beyond us, so that we can advance technology to augment our general understanding, boost efficiencies and meet the demands associated with increasingly complex global issues. Hence it is important that we nurture young, creative minds so they become both the inventors and trouble-shooters of the future. Consequently our department embraces enquiry-based learning via providing our students not only with interesting, challenging lessons, but also offering them authentic scientific/STEM research project opportunities.
We currently have fifteen staff: 11 teachers, 3 technicians and 1 Research Associate. The majority of staff have worked in industry or academia prior to commencing their school careers, hence there is a wealth of relevant experience which is used to inspire the students at all levels.
In Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8), students follow the Smart Science programme. Students are provided with a digital notebook each year so that they have an excellent idea of the whole course ahead of them, in addition to feeling reassured that they have all the key scientific concepts and skills available to them at all times. Students enjoy a wide range of practical activities, where the emphasis is on building enabling skills ready for the GCSE course. Some of the extra-curricular opportunities include the Science Club; the Salters’ Institute Festival of Chemistry and Big Bang Fairs. Additionally, in 2017 some year 8 students became involved with a research project in collaboration with Canterbury Christ Church College, Canterbury (an environmental project involving strawberry plants) and we are keen to continue to provide similar opportunities for our younger students.
In Key Stage 4 (Years 9, 10, 11), all students are expected to achieve separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, via the AQA separate science courses. Students are taught in four mixed-ability classes in terms 1-5 of year 9, after which they will be placed into one of 6 sets for the remainder of the GCSE course. As Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 students will learn theoretical concepts, supported by practical experimentation. Again, students will be offered extra-curricular opportunities, for example, the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench competition and students can also become involved with research projects.
Many students opt to take A-level science after studying GCSE science at The Langton, but we are also delighted that so many students from other backgrounds join us too. Typically approximately 100 students start each of the sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) in year 12. The Biology and Physics courses follow the AQA specification, whilst Chemistry follows OCR A. Again, there is an emphasis on practical work, both to underpin key scientific concepts, but also for the students to learn new skills. Most of our science students also grab the opportunity to become involved in a research project, as this often inspires them to continue on to some excellent courses at university. Students also love to take on the various national stretch-and-challenge competitions too, for example the Chemistry and Biology Olympiads are very popular, and our students often achieve excellent results. We also provide a supportive programme for those students wishing to pursue medical, veterinary or science-based courses at the highest ranked universities. The Biomedical Society is another popular activity for our sixth-form students: our year 13 students run this society, organising outside speakers to visit and provide very interesting cutting-edge lectures which is very inspiring to both students and staff. Other extra-curricular activities include visits to CERN, the Royal Society of Chemistry Analytical Competition and trips to TTP’s Chemistry and Biology In Action Lectures.
More details regarding the different stages and sciences can be found in the following sections. Furthermore, more details regarding the extra-curricular research projects can be found under the Research tab.
Science at KS3
The scientific method is frequently misinterpreted as linear in that it rigidly follows an age-old and generic sequence of steps [e.g. Question, Hypothesis, Experiment, Data, Conclusion]. This approach can limit students’ enthusiasm for inquiry, so to study and understand science more effectively, the linear approach must have greater flexibility in order to appeal to and inspire our Year 7 and Year 8 students.
Langton boys are keen, enthusiastic and curious beings, and therefore already possess the potential to become top class critical thinkers and problem solvers. If we, as their science teachers, constantly demand our students ask questions and want to know more about why, what, who, where, when, how and everything else that can help them make sense of a situation or concept, never taking anything at face value, then our end product will be students who leave the Langton with a very bright future ahead of them.
The main aim, therefore, of the KS3 Science course is to broaden and deepen scientific knowledge and develop the concept of the scientific method, but also develop critical thinking and problem solving skills by adopting the mindset of Socrates who, when attempting to solve a problem or answer a query, focused on asking probing questions until a natural endpoint had been reached. This may or may not solve the problem or query, or may create an entirely new one, but that is a consequence of being curious about one’s surroundings.
|Term||Year 7||Year 8|
|1||7.1 Have you got what it takes to be a Nobel Prize-Winning Scientist?||8.1 How fast, how far, how high?|
|2||7.2 Could you survive a zombie apocalypse?||8.2 What if there were no Microbes?|
|3||7.3 How important are odours?||8.3 What would be the main issues if there was no Oxygen on Earth for five seconds?|
|4||7.4 What did the Oceans ever do for us?||8.4 What if there was no colour?|
|5||7.5 What if all the ice in Antarctica melted?||8.5 What patterns are present in the Universe?|
|6||7.6 If Yellowstone erupts will life as we know it survive?||8.6 What happens when we need to leave Earth?|
In Year 9, students embark upon separate GCSE sciences courses which are taught over three years. At the end of this time, most of the students will gain a GCSE in each of the sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics). The students will follow the reformed, linear AQA specification, where they will be awarded grades 1-9, where 9 is the highest grade. Significant numbers of students continue with science at A-level.
The science department has an excellent record in facilitating students in achieving outstanding results at GCSE and A-level, thereby enabling them to access the most prestigious university courses. In addition to studying the national curriculum, the students are offered a plethora of enrichment activities during KS3 through to KS5, where many students engage in authentic scientific research, often in collaboration with universities, and take part in national competitions such as Olympiads.
Science at KS4
Science is a challenging, rewarding subject, where students learn key scientific concepts in parallel with important life-skills. Students started the GCSE Science course at the beginning of Year 9. In Term 6 of Year 9, students will be allocated to sets based on performance throughout the year, in addition to performance in the end of Year 9 exams, and sets will be reviewed at the end of Year 10.
Students will follow the AQA 9-1 specification, taking the Separate Sciences (higher tier) route which results in three GCSEs, one each for Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Lessons will be taught separately by subject specialists, as Biology, Chemistry or Physics. Students are provided with textbooks for each science. There is an opportunity to purchase an my-gcsescience.com account at a discounted rate to further support their learning.
All external exams will take place at the end of Year 11. Each subject will have two 1 hour and 45 minute exams, each worth 50% of the GCSE.
There is no formal practical skills assessment for students, although students will be expected to have completed some required practicals. Practical content will however be examined in the written papers. Practical questions will account for at least 15% of the overall marks. Students will achieve a grade 9-1 (where 9 is the highest grade).