A study of science is fundamental to our understanding of the world around us and Chemistry is central to this. Chemistry is everywhere; it's in the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the water we drink, the materials we use and the medicines we rely on.
Science is a practical subject and we aim to carry out plenty of experimental work during the pupils’ study of chemistry. A well-stocked chemical cupboard and well-equipped laboratories ensure that lessons are not just theoretical in nature.
Within the department we have 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. 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. 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.
In the First and Second Form the three sciences are taught together in an integrated approach. 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.
From September 2016 pupils will be advised which science subjects to take for GCSE; all three science subjects will be available as separate GCSEs. Chemistry will follow the new AQA specification which is a linear course with examinations being taken during the Summer Term of the Fifth Form.
At A Level we follow the AQA specification. This course aims to inspire students, nurture their passion for chemistry and lay the foundations for further study and the workplace. The AS qualification involves two written units whereas the full A-level includes a third paper. In both courses the practical work is assessed by written questions. A separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A-level but not at AS. 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.
The department has close links with the local section of the Royal Society of Chemistry and has hosted a number of joint lectures with the organisation. There is a departmental library of popular science books and periodicals which pupils can borrow to further their knowledge. For those considering a career in medicine or veterinary science there is an activity session to help them prepare for these competitive university courses.
Dr Simon Hiscocks BSc MA CChem FRSC CSciTeach
Head of Chemistry