We promote the importance of Science as a core qualification for all students not only for employers, colleges, apprenticeships and University, but also for their future lives where Science plays such a key role in our general day to day living. As a core subject it is compulsory that all students at New Mills study the Combined Science: Trilogy (8464) at GCSE. We also offer the separate sciences as a Triple Award at GCSE (Biology (8461), Chemistry (8462) and Physics (8463)). This course of study is particularly suitable for the students who intend to continue with their science to A Level and even further.
New Mills Faculty of Science have devised a 5 year curriculum plan that allows students to develop their knowledge and understanding of key concepts in science, alongside recognising how to apply these to real life situations. The importance of practical experimental work in embedding these concepts into students minds has always been a priority for our faculty and so we are extremely pleased with the increasing importance of these working scientifically skills in the new curriculum.
In year 7 and 8, students will follow a teaching strategy of Know, Apply and Extend in order to ensure all students are given the opportunity to be challenged and achieve the best possible outcomes for themselves. Each topic on the curriculum grid has its own required practical with a self assessment sheet to enable students to know how to progress.
The purpose of these sheets is to focus on one particular enquiry process skill for each investigation. This has meant that alongside general skills of planning variables, collecting and presenting data; and evaluating, our students also develop abilities in drawing conclusions, justifying opinions, critiquing claims, examining consequences and testing a hypothesis. In order that students can assess their progress with these skills, we use sheets such as the 'Justify Opinions' one below. This focuses students so that they understand how to develop to meet the demands of the new GCSE.
The subject content sheet shown is an example of marking and feedback used to ensure clear, relevant and enhancing progress. Homework in year 7 and 8 comprises of the use of an online resource and formative assessment tasks for each topic. There is also a grid in the whole school homework booklet for enhancement homeworks if students would like to extend their learning further. We can also offer an extension booklet with greater detail and challenge.
In year 9, 10 and 11 students study for the GCSE Combined Science Trilogy, or if chosen the three GCSE Separate Sciences. We follow the AQA specification for this.
Students follow the curriculum plan as shown in our grid and complete the required practicals for the qualification as they go through the three years. These practicals have replaced the controlled assessment component of the qualification and will be part of the final examinations, where questions will focus on the Apparatus and Techniques skills. The AT tables show the skills needed for the exams.
An example of a GCSE feedback sheet used for students' classwork is also shown. Students are given feedback on the grade they are working at and shown how to progress further. We have found this successful in allowing students to become more independent in their development and progress as they take ownership of their own improvement.
Homework for GCSE students comprises of a combination of online assessments, GCSE question booklets and formative task assessments. Revision guides for the GCSEs are available to buy through the Science Faculty at reduced rates at set times of the year.