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Higham Lane School

Higham Lane School


Science FAQs

Do you do all three sciences at GCSE?

Pupils are required to learn about all 3 sciences – Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This continues at GCSE where pupils will either complete the triple science course or the combined science course.

How does triple science and combined science work?

In triple science and combined science pupils still learn about all 3 sciences and will have a separate teacher for each science: biology, chemistry and physics.

There is no difference in the number of science lessons between combined science classes and triple science classes.

Combined students will sit six x 1hr 15mins examinations for their combined science course. (2 x biology, 2 x chemistry, 2x physics). Pupils then receive a combined science grade which equates to 2 full GCSE.

Triple students will sit six 1hr 45mins examinations. (2 x biology, 2 x chemistry, 2x physics). These examinations are slightly longer to account for the additional content required for the course. Pupils then receive 3 separate science GCSE grades for each individual science.

How do you choose who takes triple science?

Suitability for entry to triple science is decided by continuous assessment throughout year 8, year 9, year 10 and end of year examinations in these years.

In Yr11 results in mock examinations then cements if pupils will be entered for the triple science examinations in the summer.

We have 1 class in each band for triple science. This usually equates to approximately 60-65 students maximum.

Pupils who achieve highly in Y9 and Y10 examinations who would qualify for the triple course are consulted on the decision to continue in the triple science classes.

How much practical work do students complete?

At HLS we feel that practical work is at the heart of science and pupils love getting hands on and observing how real science works. In light of this we complete as much practical work as possible throughout all years of the school.

At GCSE there are a series of required practicals for each science that pupils are expected to complete as part of their course in order to be able to demonstrate scientific and practical skills during their examinations. We also feel in GCSE that practical plays a vital role in order to prepare those who wish to take science at sixth form or college and further into higher education.

Are pupils classes set on ability?

In Y7 baseline assessments and KS3 SATS results are used to initially set pupils based on ability.

In Y8-11 pupils are set based on continuous assessment and end of year examinations.



The Science facilities at the School are well equipped and maintained in 11 purpose-built laboratories with interactive technology. Experienced staff within the department have a wide range of individual specialisms that enhance teaching and learning.

Key Stage 3 (Years 7 and 8) students sit a programme of study that encompasses all three areas of Science in accordance with the National Curriculum requirements. The course is topic based, which are assessed by topic tests and end of year exams and is designed to prepare them for the rigours of GCSE Science.

At Key Stage 4 we offer ‘Combined Science’ (two GCSEs) and ‘Single Sciences’ (three GCSEs) with the AQA exam board. 

Combined Science is assessed with two linear (end of course) exams per specialism, split between the three areas of Science. The Single Sciences are offered to the top performing pupils in the year and the three science specialisms are taught independently.

At Key Stage 5 we offer A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics with the AQA exam board. Students are provided with a course text book to support them with pre-reading and homework. As well as examinations in Year 13, students also complete the Practical endorsement. A separate, non-examined qualification where teachers assess student competence at carrying out practical work.

Year 7 Curriculum

Year 7 students will study nine topics of about 12 lessons each, with an end of topic test. The topics are:

  • Cells, tissues & systems.
  • Reproduction & inheritance.
  • Plants and photosynthesis.
  • Particle  model & separations.
  • Acids and alkalis.
  • Elements and compounds.
  • Forces
  • Sound
  • Light

Year 8 Curriculum

As in Year 7, students will study nine topics of 12 lessons each, with an end of topic test. The topics are:

  • Nutrition and respiration.
  • Human processes.
  • Ecosystems.
  • Metals and their uses.
  • Combustion.
  • Rocks.
  • Heat and Pressure
  • Electricity
  • Magnetism.

Year 9 Curriculum

Students start to study for their Science GCSEs.  At the end of Year 9, students will be assessed in three separate exams covering all areas of content studied that year. Topics covered in Year 9 are:

Biology: Cells, Organisation, Infection and response, Bioenergetics.

Chemistry: Purity & formulations, The atmosphere, Reactivity of metals, Energy in reactions, Rates of reaction.

Physics: Energy and Energy Resources, Motion, Waves, Atomic Structure and Radioactivity

Year 10 Curriculum

End of Year 9 exam results decide which students will follow the Single Sciences and which students will follow the GCSE Combined Science route. Topics covered in Year 10 are:

Biology: Bioenergetics, Homeostasis, Variation & inheritance.

Chemistry: Atom structure & the periodic table, Bonding, Chemical changes & electrolysis.

Physics: Waves, Forces, Energy and Momentum, Particle Model of Matter

Year 11 Curriculum

Topics covered in Year 11 are:

Biology: Ecology.

Chemistry: Quantitative calculations, Using resources and Analysis (Chemistry only).

Physics: Electricity, Magnetism, Space

Once the topics are completed, students will follow specific revision topics in preparation for the summer exams.

Year 12 and Year 13 Curriculum

A level Biology

Topics covered:

  1. Biological molecules.
  2. Cells.
  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment.
  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms.
  5. Energy transfers in and between organisms.
  6. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments.
  7. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems.
  8. The control of gene expression.

 Assessment: Three exams in total, two hours each, covering topics 1-8 and practical skills.

A-level Chemistry

Topics covered:

       Physical Chemistry

Atomic structure, Amount of substance, Bonding, Energetics, Kinetics, Chemical equilibria, Redox reactions, Thermodynamics, Rate equations, Equilibrium constant, Electrode potentials and Acids and bases.

Inorganic Chemistry

Periodicity, Group 2 elements, Group 7 elements, Properties of Period 3 elements, Transition metals, Reactions of ions in aqueous solution.

Organic Chemistry

       Alkanes, Halogenalkanes, Alkenes, Alcohols, Organic Analysis, Optical isomerism,             Aldehydes and Ketones, Carboxylic acids, Aromatic Chemistry, Amines, Polymers,               Amino acids, proteins and DNA, Organic synthesis, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance,               Spectroscopy and  Chromatography.

Assessment: Three exams in total, two hours each, covering specific topics and practical skills.

A-level Physics

Topics covered:

  1. Measurements and errors: Use of SI units and their prefixes, Limitations of physical measurements, Estimation of physical quantities.
  2. Particles and Radiation: Particles, Electromagnetic radiation, Quantum phenomena.
  3. Waves: Progressive and stationary waves, Refraction, diffraction and interference.
  4. Mechanics and materials: Forces, Energy, Momentum.
  5. Electricity: Current electricity, Resistivity.
  6. Further Mechanics and thermal Physics: Periodic motion, Thermal physics.
  7. Fields and their consequences: Fields, Gravitational fields, Electric fields, Capacitance, Magnetic fields.
  8. Nuclear Physics: Radioactivity.
  9. Optional topics: Astrophysics, Medical Physics, Engineering Physics, Turning points in Physics, Electronics.

Assessment: Three exams in total, two hours each, covering specific topics and practical skills.

Extra-curricular Activities

The department offers a range of extra-curricular activities, including a Science club and trips, which in the past have included visits to the Natural History Museum, the Science Museum in London, the National Space Centre, Middleton Lakes and visits to local universities.

E HUXLEY, Subject Leader for Science