At Our Lady of Sion School, an Integrated Science course is taught in Years 7 and 8. This is in mixed ability groups, for five periods per week in Year 7 and four periods per week in Year 8.
In Year 9, Biology, Chemistry and Physics are taught separately by specialist subject teachers, for two periods (one double lesson) per subject per week. There is no setting, with the subjects once again being taught in tutor groups.
In Years 7, 8 and 9 the courses are based around National Curriculum material and designed to build knowledge and experimental skills, in preparation for study at GCSE level. Currently, students follow a course based around Activate [Oxford University Press].
Students make option choices during the Spring Term of Year 9. All students are required to take Science at GCSE level and we offer two options at Sion:
- Combined Science (Trilogy), where the individual sciences are taught separately, by subject specialists, and which leads to an award worth two GCSEs;
- Triple Science, in which Biology, Chemistry & Physics are taught as separate subjects, leading to three GCSEs.
Both the Triple and Combined awards currently follow the AQA specifications. Group sizes vary, usually, from 10-16 and each of the separate sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) has four periods (two double lessons) per week. Combined Science has eight periods per week.
All three sciences are offered at AS and A level, and the take up is very good, with the department usually contributing over one third of the A level examinations sat in the School and most Sixth Form students studying at least one Science subject. Only students with an A*/A grade at GCSE are encouraged to study A level Sciences.
The AQA examination board syllabus is used in Biology, and the OCR specifications are followed for Chemistry and Physics. There are currently six timetabled lessons per week in Year 12 and seven in Year 13. Group sizes at A level vary year on year, although there are usually between 6-16 students.
The approach within the department, at all levels, is one of high academic standards and the expectation of all pupils is high. Wherever possible, scientific concepts are introduced through practical work and experimental investigations carried out by students, individually or in small groups. The department also encourages the use of IT, for research, data-logging and analysis, to enhance the range of skills developed by students.
Science examination results at both GCSE and A level are amongst the best in the school and usually well above national averages. In addition, most students attain, or often exceed, their projected grades.
The main goals in the teaching of Science, at all levels, are to stimulate a desire to learn and to develop an interest in the world in which we live, not only as a means to achieving examination results but, more importantly, in realising the value of knowledge in its own right.