In Chemistry, we aim to inspire the pupils to appreciate the life-long learning that lies ahead of them.  We offer practical and theoretical scientific work and encourage pupils to take responsibility for their learning.  Thus, we lay down the foundations for a positive approach to the self-directed development of the individual in an ever-changing world.

Most of the formal learning in Chemistry takes place in our four bespoke and beautifully appointed laboratories, situated at the top of the striking Science Block.  After years of careful investment, we are particularly well equipped and do our best to introduce practical and real-life applications throughout the boys’ journeys through our subject.

Key Stage 3

During Years 7 and 8, the boys are offered a secure grounding in the sciences.  Our KS3 course is, despite our being an academy, closely aligned with the National Curriculum.  Most Science teaching takes place in our General Science suite of three, large and well-equipped laboratories.  As with Chemistry later on in the boys’ journey, there is much emphasis placed upon practical work.  

Key Stage 4

Year 9

During Year 9, all of our pupils study the AQA Chemistry (8462) course.

The following topics are studied during the year:

  • Atomic structure;
  • The Periodic Table;
  • Bonding, structure and properties;
  • The rate and extent of chemical change;
  • The chemistry of the atmosphere.

These topics provide the boys with the fundamental ideas upon which they will build throughout their GCSE and beyond, should they choose to continue along this path, into the A Level.

Years 10 and 11

The Separate Sciences Route
The majority of pupils study the AQA Chemistry (8462) course and follow the Separate Sciences route.  Under normal conditions, the course is assessed through two 1 hour 45 minute examination papers sat at the end of Year 11. The following path is followed during these two years:

The Periodic Table is reprised;

  • quantitative chemistry;
  • more chemical changes;
  • energy changes;
  • the extent of chemical change- reversible reactions;
  • organic chemistry;
  • chemical analysis;
  • using resources.                                                                                   

As indicated above, we interleave and re-visit topics during Years 10 and 11 that had been encountered during Year 9.  This spiral learning really lends itself to positive and active retrieval practice.  Thus, our approach gives us the opportunity to reinforce the key aspects of knowledge and skills that the boys amass during their Chemistry Journey.     

The Combined Science Route

A smaller cohort of our pupils study the AQA Trilogy (8464) course. The course is assessed, under normal circumstances, through six 1 hour 15 minute examination papers, sat at the end of Year 11, two for each discipline. The following topics are studied during the two years:

  • The Periodic Table is reprised;
  • quantitative chemistry;
  • more chemical changes;
  • energy changes;
  • the extent of chemical change- reversible reactions;
  • organic chemistry;
  • chemical analysis;
  • using resources.

Key Stage 5

We follow the AQA A Level Chemistry specification, with teaching split between two teachers for each class.  As is the nature of our subject, the A Level sees pupils continuing to consider the fundamental ideas of Chemistry.  The whole subject revolves around an understanding of the structure and significance of the Periodic Table.  Models of atomic structure and bonding underpin the work, with Chemistry depending, arguably, upon what electrons do.  The culmination of the course, in the upper sixth, manifests itself in our consideration of what makes chemical reactions go, whilst, in common with our philosophy lower down the school, we encourage learning through hands-on practical work, with connexions made to real-life applications of Chemistry.

Lower Sixth

During the lower sixth form, we study the following topics:

1 Physical chemistry

1.1 Atomic structure

1.2 Amount of substance

1.3 Bonding

1.4 Energetics

1.5 Kinetics

1.6 Chemical equilibria, Le Chatelier’s principle and Kc

1.7 Oxidation, reduction and redox equations

2 Inorganic chemistry

2.1 Periodicity

2.2 Group 2, the alkaline earth metals

2.3 Group 7(17), the halogens

3 Organic chemistry

3.1 Introduction to organic chemistry

3.2 Alkanes

3.3 Halogenoalkanes

3.4 Alkenes

3.5 Alcohols

3.6 Organic analysis

Boys also carry out the examination board’s core practical work and are assessed on this as they work towards attaining the Practical Endorsement element of the course.                                                                                 

Upper Sixth

During the second year of the AQA A-level, boys cover the following topics:

1 Physical chemistry

1.8 Thermodynamics (A-level only)

1.9 Rate equations (A-level only)

1.10 Equilibrium constant Kp for homogeneous systems (A-level only)

1.11 Electrode potentials and electrochemical cells (A-level only)

1.12 Acids and bases (A-level only)

2 Inorganic chemistry

2.4 Properties of Period 3 elements and their oxides (A-level only)

2.5 Transition metals (A-level only)

2.6 Reactions of ions in aqueous solution (A-level only)


3 Organic chemistry

3.7 Optical isomerism (A-level only)

3.8 Aldehydes and ketones (A-level only)

3.9 Carboxylic acids and derivatives (A-level only)

3.10 Aromatic chemistry (A-level only)

3.11 Amines (A-level only)

3.12 Polymers (A-level only)

3.13 Amino acids, proteins and DNA (A-level only)

3.14 Organic synthesis (A-level only)

3.15 Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (A-level only)

3.16 Chromatography (A-level only)

During the upper sixth, the required practical work is completed and boys are assessed towards the Practical Endorsement element of the course.

Exams & Assessment


Examination board: AQA

A Level

Examination board: AQA

Enrichment & Extra-curricular

An excellent Science Club is run by members of the sixth form from within the Chemistry Department.  Meanwhile, we regularly take boys to visit Science Live events and Salter’s Festivals and the like.

The school’s Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme is centred on our department, with staff happily volunteering to spend week-ends, and longer periods of time, under canvas, as we support boys through the Bronze and Gold Awards.

Resources & Reading Lists

Recommended books include:

The Periodic Kingdom: A journey into the land of the chemical elements, Peter Atkin, (Basic Books)

Elegant Solutions- Ten Beautiful Experiments in Chemistry, Philip Ball, (RSC)

Why Chemical Reactions Happen, James Keeler and Peter Wothers, (OUP)

The Chemistry of Life, Steven Rose, (Penguin)

The Chemistry of Fireworks, Michael Russell, (RSC)

Uncle Tungsten, Oliver Sacks, (Picador)

The Glass Cage, Nicholas Carr, (The Bodley Head)

The Gut- The Inside Story of our Body’s Most Under-rated organ, Giulia Enders, (Scribe)

A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson, (Black Swan)

Extremes, Kevin Fong, (Hodder and Stoughton)

A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking, (Bantam Press)

The Dating Game- One Man's Search for the Age of the Earth, Cherry Lewis, (CUP)

The Lunar Men, Jenny Uglow, (Faber and Faber)