The sciences tell us important and interesting new things about ourselves and the world in which we live. Chemistry, for example, tells us that all substances are made of tiny particles held together by forces which are electrical in nature; that the many varied substances we see around us are made up of different re-arrangements of the same fundamental elements. Chemistry deals with major themes in which most people are already interested for example the nature of matter and the ‘made-world’.  A primary reason, therefore, for studying Chemistry is to gain knowledge about the material world, because it is both interesting and important.  On a practical level, an understanding of scientific ideas can help people in decision-making and in feeling empowered to hold and express a view on issues which enter the arena of public debate for example climate change or the use of nuclear fuel.  It is a practical subject and one which demonstrates the scientific approach to inquiry, based on evidence and careful reasoning, with all claims open to critical scrutiny and founded upon an underlying commitment to seek material explanations for events in a material Universe.

Junior curriculum

Since September 2015 we have been using the Activate KS3 Science curriculum and resources which has maths, literacy and working scientifically embedded throughout the course to develop key skills.  In the Third Form the subjects are taught separately as we lay the foundations for the start of the GCSE courses.  Third Form pupils begin work on the first topics the AQA GCSE courses in the Lent Term.


Board: AQA

The specification encourages the development of knowledge and understanding in science through opportunities for working scientifically.

Examinations: two papers which are equally weighted; both papers are 1 hour and 45 minutes in length.  There are both Foundation and Higher Tier papers available.

There are ten topics in the specification: 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 and using resources.

A Level

Board: AQA

The course aims to inspire students, nurture their passion for Chemistry and lay the foundations for further study and the workplace. The qualification involves three written units with the practical work being assessed by written questions.  A separate 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.  Practical skills are still considered important and the physical, organic and inorganic branches of chemistry are covered in the experimental work.

Department staff

Head of Department is Dr Simon Hiscocks who, after completing a degree in Biological and Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Essex, stayed on to gain his PhD in Chemistry at the same institution.  He is also a Chartered Chemist and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry and a Chartered Science Teacher.

Mr Head attended Bristol University, completing a Master of Science degree in Chemistry, specialising in the molecular symmetry of organic molecules and the related synthetic applications, He then stayed on at the same university to complete his PGCE with a Chemistry specialism.

Mrs Hannah Wood, who has returned to Sutton Valence School as a teacher after being a student here herself.  Having taken a degree in Chemistry with French, Mrs Wood went on to complete a Master’s degree in Analytical Chemistry at Hull University.

Dr Simon Hiscocks BSc MA CChem FRSC CSciTeach
Head of  Chemistry
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