Why study Chemistry?
Chemistry is all around us. Chemistry is about our lives and how we build our world for future generations. Chemistry is interesting and relevant since it affects every part of modern life. Solutions are continually being found to everyday problems. Chemistry concerns materials, water treatment, communications, air quality, energy conservation, pain relief, food. The list is endless.
KS4: GCSE Chemistry (AQA)
At Woodford we follow a three year course from years 9-11, with the expectation that students will take a GCSE in Chemistry at the end of the three years. The course covers a range of topics including atomic structure, amounts of substance, structure and bonding, materials, crude oil and the atmosphere.
There is no coursework or practical exam in the GCSE, but students are given the opportunity to conduct, plan and analyse many practical investigations throughout the three years to help enrich their learning and to develop the skills required for A-Level Chemistry.
We are fortunate in having highly qualified Chemistry specialists teaching all classes, making Chemistry a very popular subject. In all groups, there is a noticeable enthusiasm and both the pupils and teachers have very high expectations. Extension materials are provided for students on the school’s Managed Learning Environment.
KS5: GCE Chemistry (AQA)
The demand to study Chemistry at Woodford is forever increasing. Although it is considered to be one of the hardest A-Level choices, students rise to the challenge and the examination results are outstanding. There are many other subjects that go alongside Chemistry such as Biology, Physics, Mathematics, Geography and the Humanities to name but a few.
The main requirement for studying Chemistry at A-Level is a genuine interest and enthusiasm for the subject. An enjoyment for study in this area makes the necessary independent study so much easier. Lessons incorporate many teaching and learning styles including practical activities, problem solving and research. Students will be able to express their point of view fluently and to work effectively (as part of a team and individually) to obtain reliable results. They will learn to conduct investigative work and to make deductions from their observations.
During lessons, students carry out practical exercises, discuss chemical concepts, use their mathematical skills to analyse and experience a range of learning activities. Girls are expected to study independently to prepare for lessons and complete homework tasks. There are 14 required practicals that students must complete throughout the two years, which is evidenced in lab books. This will help to develop a range of practical skills and competencies to prepare them for a range of scientific degrees and qualifications. There are additional practicals that will also be conducted to enhance students’ enjoyment and understanding of concepts.
Students are encouraged to further develop their interest in Chemistry and broaden their knowledge beyond the curriculum. There are plenty of opportunities for students to do so at Woodford.
In Year 8, students can compete in the Salter’s Festival of Chemistry, which involves small teams of students from approximately 20 schools competing in problem solving activities. At GCSE, students have recently been involved in celebrating 100 years of the periodic table. Enthusiasm and awareness has increased due to activities such as the GCSE Science Live event and RSC Top of the Bench competition. At A-Level, students are encouraged to attend workshops and conferences not only for the purpose of revision but also to enhance their interest in wider areas of Chemistry and future careers. Additionally, students have the opportunity to take part in the Chemistry Olympiad which takes place in the spring term of year 13.
The diversity of careers and university courses accessible through A-Level Chemistry is evident when looking at what our students go on to study. Many choose to follow pathways into health or clinical related professions. Some enter the world of industry, joining petrochemical or pharmaceutical firms. For other students their interests lie in studying pure Chemistry, pharmacology, biochemistry or even law. More general higher education courses are also followed due to the many transferable skills obtained throughout the course. Strong analytic and problem solving skills are sought after in the financial sector in particular. Some Chemistry based courses at university offer industrial placements or can be combined with a modern foreign language.