Key Stage 3
Introduction to KS3 Science at SWCHS
Students study a three-year KS3 Science programme, based on the National Curriculum and the development of skills and knowledge required at GCSE. The course is designed to follow on from their KS2 studies, building on knowledge and skills developed at primary school and ensure a smooth transition in their learning. It will continue this development and prepare the students with the tools and confidence required for the challenges that the GCSE courses will present. The KS3 course will stimulate students’ curiosity about the physical and natural world around them, as well as developing the key scientific skills they need now and in the future. Students are faced with challenging activities which encourage engagement and allow teachers to stretch and support students individually.
Classes are mixed ability throughout KS3 with students being taught in tutor groups in Year 7 and in mixed ability teaching groups in Year 8. A wide range of topics involving all three main science areas are covered in order to produce well-rounded scientists with an impressive range of knowledge and skills. In Year 9 students are broadly banded in to groups that helps prepare students for the required knowledge at GCSE.
Key knowledge and understanding covered at KS3:
- The nature of matter – the world material world around us
- Physical and chemical changes to matter
- The interaction of matter and energy
- Energy and forces
- The make-up and structure of living organisms
- How life reproduces, changes and evolves
- The impact of human activity on the environment
Key skills covered at KS3:
- Manipulation of standard laboratory equipment
- Planning of experiments and collection of data
- Graph drawing
- Analysing experiments and drawing conclusions.
- Development of writing skills – how to describe and explain scientific concepts.
- Manipulation and use of data
The first term of Year 7 is focussed on building a good foundation in key scientific skills and knowledge. Students follow an introductory unit which includes the development of essential practical and maths skills including a cross curricular project working with their maths teachers. They then rotate through 8 units of study, outlining key aspect of Physical, Chemical and Biological sciences.
Every opportunity is given for development of practical skills. The course is very hands-on, and students are encouraged to learn and develop though their own practical work together with independent and group work activities. Progress in practical work and maths skills is also assessed during class tasks, homework and end-of-topic tests.
In Year 8, students begin to develop a deeper understanding of the scientific world. They study the interaction of matter and the role and application of forces in the real world, as well as furthering their understanding of living organisms over six different units. Emphasis is placed on developing scientific thinking, and on translating ideas into a written format. The acquisition of knowledge through first-hand experience remains a major theme. As in Year 7, there is a large emphasis on developing practical and mathematical skills which are assessed regularly. At the beginning of the summer term, Year 8 students take a KS3 exam which is used, along with other data, to form teaching groups for Year 9 and the start of their GCSE studies.
Year 9- preparation for GCSE studies
As students move through the KS3 course, they develop skills that will be essential for success at KS4. These include the knowledge and use of key words, understanding how to analyse and use data and the application of prior knowledge to unfamiliar situations. Development of all these skills are embedded into the course throughout to develop their scientific thinking skills and to better prepare them for the rigours of GCSE studies and core practical’s.
All students in Year 9 will study a bespoke SWCHS preparatory course for GCSE, which covers fundamental scientific principals and allows for time to explore real world concepts. The course extends learning from Years 7 and 8 and also brings down fundamental knowledge from the GCSE specification. This allows for late developers to shine and for teachers to closely monitor progress over a longer period of time before making final route judgements for Year 10. Students are broadly banded by ability based on prior data, progress and teacher assessment. They will be assessed continually throughout the year and changes may be made to the groups through the year to ensure that all students are in the best place to maximise their potential. Percentage grades may be awarded for summative tests but the our focus in Year 9 is on gaining experience and knowledge and we employ the mantra of ‘every mark counts’ rather than predicting and targeting GCSE style grades.