Balcarras

Science

The Science department is committed to an active learning approach and lessons have a strong practical investigative basis.

Throughout their time at school students are encourage to be curious and develop their own ideas so that Science is seen as an interesting, exciting and rewarding experience.

The Science department has an enthusiastic team of 13 specialist teachers supported by four highly qualified science technicians. We are housed in ten labs (including two sixth form labs) and have recently completed a refurbishment program so our teaching and preparation facilities are modern and pleasant to work in. We have excellent ICT resources in our labs and a first class VLE.

Science Staff

Dr S Jones Head of Science, Biology
Mr G Towers  Assistant Head, Biology
Mr J Niblett Head of Physics
Miss K Taylor Head of Biology
Mr S Brotherton Head of A level Chemistry
Mrs Atkin Assistant Head, Chemistry
Mr A Spring-Wallis Physics
Miss S Evans Chemistry
Mrs C Hearing Head of Applied Science
Mr Goodhead Physics
Mrs S Flavell Physics
Mr W Rothwell Biology
Mr J Butler Biology
Mrs G Towers Head Technician
Mrs G Cannon Technician
Mr M Howarth Technician
Mrs H Bocchi Technician

Key Stage 3

Pupils study the key stage 3 program of study in Years 7 and 8, supported by the Scientifica textbooks. Pupils receive front sheets for each topic so they know what will be covered and to help them plan revision. There are also extensive resources on our VLE and on the R drive. Pupils complete two levelled homeworks within each topic and a written test at the end of each topic. They also sit an exam at the end of each year. 

All these results are used to track pupil progress and form the basis of setting Years 8 and 9.

Year 7 Units

7B1 Cells, photosynthesis, reproduction
7B2 Ecosystems, digestion, health
7C1 Solids, liquids, gases, changes of state
7C2 Atoms, elements, compounds, separation
7P1 Light, sound, space
7P2 Fuel use and cost, energy resources

Year 8 Units

8B1 The Body
8B2 DNA & Inheritance
8C1 Properties of Elements
8C2 Chemical Reactions & the Earth
8P1 Electricity & Magnetism
8P2 Forces & Motion

GCSE

Pupils start their GCSE science courses at the beginning of Year 9 with a view that the majority of students will gain two science GCSEs. They complete six GCSE topics; two each in biology, chemistry and physics. Each topic is assessed by two graded standard homeworks and a test.

Year 9 Units

9B1 Cells
9B2 Transport in Organisms
9C1 Atomic Structure & the Periodic Table
9C2 Chemical Analysis & Water
9P1 Forces
9P2 Particles & EM Spectrum

Students in Year 10 continue studying GCSE science, they complete twelve topics: four each in biology, chemistry and physics. Each topic is assessed by two graded standard homeworks and a test.

Year 10 Units

10B1 Disease & Treatments
10B2 Plants & Photosynthesis
10B3 Environment & Ecology
10B4 Conservation
10C1 Rates of Reaction
10C2 Oils & Polymers
10C3 Earth’s Atmosphere and Resources
10C4 Metals
10P1 Energy
10P2 Waves
10P3 Matter
10P4 Energy Resources

Students in Year 11 continue studying GCSE science, they complete nine topics: three each in biology, chemistry and physics. Each topic is assessed by two graded standard homeworks. Pupils also do a number of examination papers as mocks and for practice.

Year 11 Units

11B1 Cells & Cell Division
11B2 Homeostasis
11B3 Inheritance & Evolution
11C1 Structure & Bonding
11C2 Electrolysis, Energy Changes & Equilibria
11C3 Acids, Neutralisation & Calculations
11P1 Forces
11P2 Electricity
11P3 Magnetism
   

A Level

Sciences are extremely popular at Balcarras with take-up far above the national average. Grades are very high and value added scores amongst the highest in the sixth form. We benefit from highly qualified specialist staff teaching each of the disciplines. At present, four options are offered at A level – Biology, Physics, Chemistry and Applied Science.

Biology A level follows the AQA curriculum is run by Miss Taylor. Also teaching biology are Mr Towers, Mr Rothwell, Mr Butler and Dr Jones.
Chemistry A level follows the OCR curriculum and is run by Mr Brotherton.  Also teaching chemistry are Mrs Atkin, Mrs Hearing and Miss Evans.
Physics A level follows the Edexcel curriculum and is run by Mr Niblett. Also teaching physics are Mrs Flavell, Mr Goodhead and Mr Clancy.

Applied Science A level follows the AQA curriculum and is run by Mrs Hearing . Subject specialists take different units and this year Dr Jones, Mr Goodhead and Mrs Hearing are all taking units.

Our sixth form resources on the VLE are particularly well used by staff and students and we would always recommend this as a first port of call for information.  We are also keen to encourage sixth form students to use resources beyond the classroom and you will find links to science websites, online tutorials and suggested viewing for TV documentaries on the VLE.

Trips

We have a thriving Science Club for Year 7 and Year 8 pupils run by Mr Rothwell and Mrs Flavell. In September 2014 we started a Lego Mindstorm club for Years 9 and 10 run by Dr Sharp. We have a number of links with local industries and institutions and often enter pupils into competitions and workshops with them.

Our biggest event of the year is the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) festival held in Science & Engineering Week. We have outside providers in to run workshops with pupils, scientists and engineers come in to work with pupils on specific projects.

We also run a series of lunchtime lectures. So far themes have included

  • Working in Space
  • The Science of Music
  • Using Resources in the 21st Century
  • Biotechnology

Over the years our guests have come from Magnox, GCHQ, Severn Trent, GE Aviation, Space Odyssey, AIS, Gamelan, West Midland Safari Park and others. 

Future Possibilities

Many students from Balcarras take their study of science on to university. From Medicine to Aeronautical Engineering the possibilities available to those with qualifications in science are vast. Below is just a small selection of Balcarras students currently studying sciences at university.

  • Sophie Ingledew is studying Veterinary Science at Cambridge University
  • Mike Woodford is in his third year reading Engineering at Cambridge University
  • Nicola Pearson is studying Medicine at Newcastle University
  • James Courtney is reading Chemistry at Bath University