Physics

Physics is all around us and an integral part of everyday life and human progress, from the vey mechanisms of motion and particle structure through to energy use, climate science, materials technology and medical technology. This makes studying Physics a fascinating, challenging and diverse part of the curriculum.

Our primary responsibility is to our students and their learning. As such we will provide an educational experience and curriculum in which we:

  • Create a stimulating environment that facilitates intellectual growth of students
  • Provide students with the time and freedom to develop their understanding and make links between what they learn in the lesson and the world around them.
  • Encourage students to be advocates for science and the scientific approach to learning.
  • Instil critical and analytical skills related to Physics throughout the KS3, GCSE and A-level courses.

In our Physics lessons we want all of our students to reach their full potential. One of the ways we do this is through ensuring that all our students are given Quality First Teaching. This means that our teachers employ methods and strategies to help all children overcome any barriers to their learning. Research indicates that students learn best by doing and then having adequate time to reflect; in order to reconcile their findings with their previous understanding of the world. Therefore our teachers organise their classrooms around frequent, hands-on practical work. This means students learn how to think logically and scientifically, working with purpose, learning how to plan and carry out investigations, make careful observations and interpret experimental results. Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning, to work collaboratively in groups during practical work, on research projects and in discussions.

Our Physics curriculum develops scientific skills such as questioning, analytical and problem solving skills. Practical work underpins many of the topics studied at GCSE and Advanced level. Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds and learn to respect each other and their differing experiences. We expect our students to help each other, supporting their class mates to achieve their aspirations.

Our teachers use the latest teaching methodologies which support development and building of a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of Physics. We have an exciting curriculum at KS3 to develop curiosity, resilience and analytical skills, and hereby enabling students not just to learn facts but be able to recall them in the future, allowing them to develop the strong analytical skills needed for KS4 and 5 Physics. We have regular opportunities for assessment. This ensures students know how they are progressing and are able to take responsibility for their learning. Tracking progress also allows staff to ensure the best possible outcomes at GCSE and A-level. We reward our students both for progress and effort using the school rewards policy of merits and postcards. If support is needed by a student we liaise with the SEN and pastoral team to develop bespoke intervention to facilitate success.


KS3 curriculum Years 7-8

 Term 1Term 2Term 3
Year 7Working Scientifically
This introduction topic provides students with the knowledge needed to plan, carry, analyse and evaluate practical work in Science.
Forces
In Forces, students study Hooke’s law, friction and learn the difference between mass and weight. This provides the opportunity for some mathematics and graph drawing.
Space
In Space, students take a trip around the solar system, looking at different planets before returning to Earth to learn about seasons and phases of the moon.
Energy
Students discover the difference between energy and temperature and how the two are linked. They then look at the ways of transferring energy through substances. Then students learn about the ways of generating electricity from renewable and non-renewable sources and how to calculate energy use of common appliances.
Year 8Sound
During this topic, students study the difference between frequency, pitch, loudness and draw longitudinal and transverse waves. Students learn about the parts of the ear and why animals hear different sounds to each other. It finishes with the study of using ultrasound in the real world.
Light
In Light, students discover through practical work about reflection and refraction. Students then study how the eye works and why we see different colours.
Electricity and Magnetism
This topic introduces students to the different types of circuits and the rules for current and potential difference. There are lots of opportunities for students to build circuits. Then, students look at how magnets and compasses work and draw magnetic fields, ending with making an electromagnet and looking at its uses.

GCSE curriculum Years 9-11

The GCSE course we follow is a bespoke spiral curriculum. In year 9 students cover introductory topics in each of the main areas of Physics – Energy, Forces, Motion, Electricity and Waves. This allows the groundworks to be laid in each of these topics which will then be revisited and developed through the remainder of the course in year 10 and 11 – as further complexity is layered into the students’ understanding through further mathematical work or development of their models and ways of thinking. We have produced an exciting and challenging course which aims to develop an enquiring and analytical mind through a variety of activities including extensive practical work, research and discussions. GCSE Physics covers the following topics:

Year 9 – Extending Ideas in Physics

  • Forces: Forces and their interactions, using Newton’s Laws of motion, Hooke’s Law.
  • Density & Pressure: Fundamental ideas regarding the particle model, pressure and pressure differences in fluids.
  • Energy: Energy changes in a system, and the ways energy is stored before and after such changes. Energy conservation, dissipation and national and global energy sources.
  • Space: Work on the Solar system, stability of orbital motions, satellites. The ‘big bang’, universal expansion and the fate of the universe.
  • Mechanics 1: Speed, velocity, acceleration; distance-time and velocity-time graphs. Linking work with forces and Newton’s laws of motion.
  • Electricity 1: Students learn about static electricity and electric fields. An introduction to series and parallel circuits. Current, potential difference and resistance.
  • Waves: An introduction linking energy transfers to waves. Waves in the air, fluids and solids. Waves at material interfaces: their applications in exploring structures.

Year 10 – Establishing Ideas in Physics

  •  Mechanics 2: Further work on speed, velocity, acceleration; distance-time and velocity-time graphs. Extending our work on forces and Newton’s laws of motion.
  • Radioactivity and Nuclear Physics: The nuclear atom and isotopes. Absorption and emission of ionizing radiations and of electrons and nuclear particles. Hazards and uses of radioactive emissions and of background radiation. Nuclear fission and fusion.
  • Electricity 2: Further development on current, potential difference and resistance, the behaviour of electrical components and domestic uses of electricity and safety.
  • EM Waves: Students learn about the EM spectrum, frequency range of the spectrum and the interactions of electromagnetic radiation with matter and their applications.
  • Momentum: Forces and their interactions are covered, linking to energy and momentum changes and applications to safety in transport.

Year 11 – Further Ideas in Physics

  • Energy transfers by heating: Changes of state and the particle model. Internal energy, energy transfers and particle motions.
  • Light: Colour and frequency; differential effects in transmission, absorption and diffuse reflection. Lenses. Black body radiation.
  • Electromagnetism: Permanent and induced magnetism, magnetic forces and fields Magnetic effects of currents and the motor effect. Induced potential, transformers and the national grid. Microphones and speakers; oscillating currents in detection and generation of radiation.
  • Mechanics 3: Moments, levers and gears.

A Level curriculum Years 12 and 13

Physics is a popular subject at Advanced level and many of our students go on to study Science, Engineering, Mathematics and Computing based subjects at University.

The current course follows the Edexcel A Level with schemes of work complimented by additional materials selected by staff with significant experience of teaching both traditional concept-led courses and context-led courses. This approach means that for each unit of work students will also study the consideration of an application that draws on many different areas of physics such as testing materials for medical applications or electronic systems in transport control, and then students move on to learn and develop their understanding of the laws, theories and models underlying this application. We believe this prepares our students well for the demands of the A Level Physics examinations which are weighted significantly towards applying the Physics the students have learnt to a range of situations.

In year 12 the course includes the study of mechanics, materials, waves, electricity and the wave/particle nature of light.

The year 13 course then includes the study of further mechanics (momentum and circular motion), electric and magnetic fields, and particle physics. Students also study thermal energy, nuclear decay, oscillations, astrophysics and cosmology.

Students will be introduced to the context and then study the relevant physics. This allows students to apply physics to everyday situations and gives them an appreciation of its importance in society and relates it to the needs of people. Lessons will consist of discussion, problem solving and practical work. Students should be confident mathematically and be prepared to take an active interest in the subject, including reading more widely about related topics.

Physics is a highly regarded subject in terms of demonstrating strong numerical, logical and problem solving skills. In addition to careers directly related to physics and research, it is also a compulsory ‘A’ level for studying Engineering at university.


The Enriched Curriculum

GCSE and Advanced Level Physics students have the opportunity to experience talks by leading Scientists at GCSE and A level Science Live events. A level students also have the opportunity to visit University Masterclass sessions and experience undergraduate style lectures in Physics first hand. This gives the students a small taste of University life, the format of lectures at University and an opportunity to meet and work with other students from around the country. There are also opportunities to attend public lectures on Physics topics such as the Bolton Lecture or the EC Stoner Colloquium at Leeds University, these trips have the added bonus of building relationships within our cohort as we aim for a supportive and respectful climate for learning. We also promote the Headstart, Inspire and Smallpiece Trust Engineering residential trips and frequently have a good number of students attending these from year groups 9 through to 13. A level Physics Students attend the regular Science Department Journal club meetings where students give presentations and then answer questions on aspects of science which interest them. This develops a broader scientific knowledge, the ability to question and learn from their peers and the ability to make cross-disciplinary links.


5 Year Curriculum Plan(s)

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