2020 - Another impressive set of GCSE results


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Head of department Mr. S J Horne


The science department's vision is to engage young people in science and develop scientists of the future. To create a stimulating and exciting learning environment where the teaching is both challenging and supportive. To empower students to learn independently and achieve to the very best of their ability. We wish to offer the highest standards including quality resources and a safe, comfortable environment.

Our Science Faculty is one of the largest in school offering a total of four GCSEs, three A levels and one BTEC level 3 in science subjects. We have a very qualified team of teachers from every specialism.

The science department aims to educate our students to become citizens of a scientific world and perhaps inspire some to become future scientists and engineers. We hope to motivate students to consider the social, cultural and moral issues related to science. We aim to teach them to use scientific knowledge and understanding with confidence and accuracy.


Key Stage 3

We deliver a 2 year accelerated Key Stage 3 programme of study incorporating the new National Curriculum. KS3 Science course designed to spark curiosity in science and support students on their journey through KS3 to KS4 success.

The students are assessed regularly throughout Key Stage 3 with the use of assessments after two topics and access to online exam questions. The questions are differentiated and will allow access to all abilities.

Year 7 Science Topics

By the end of the topic I will be able to.....

I will also be developing my investigative skills

Introduction to science

  • Identify how to work safely in a lab and to create some basic risk assessments
  • Know the function of some basic equipment and know where it is kept.

Communication in science by writing a plan for an investigation

Practical skills by identifying key variables


  • Know if the overall, resultant force on an object is non-zero, its motion changes and it slows down, speeds up or changes direction.
  • Illustrate a journey with changing speed on a distance-time graph, and label changes in motion.

Numeracy skills by using the formula: speed = distance (m)/time (s) or

distance-time graphs, to calculate speed.

Particle model

  • Explain unfamiliar observations about gas pressure in terms of particles.
  • Explain the properties of solids, liquids and gases based on the arrangement and movement of their particles.
  • Explain changes in states in terms of changes to the energy of particles.
  • Draw before and after diagrams of particles to explain observations about changes of state, gas pressure and diffusion.

Relate the features of the particle model to the properties of materials in different states


  • Explain why multi-cellular organisms need organ systems to keep their cells alive.
  • Suggest what kind of tissue or organism a cell is part of, based on its features.
  • Explain how to use a microscope to identify and compare different types of cells.
  • Explain how uni-cellular organisms are adapted to carry out functions that in multi-cellular organisms are done by different types of cell.

Identify the principal features of a cheek cell and describe their functions


  • Explain how a physical property of part of the skeleton relates to its function.
  • Explain why some organs contain muscle tissue.
  • Explain how antagonistic muscles produce movement around a joint.
  • Use a diagram to predict the result of a muscle contraction or relaxation.

Explore how the skeletal system and muscular system in a chicken wing work together to cause movement

Human reproduction

  • Explain whether substances are passed from the mother to the foetus or not.
  • Use a diagram to show stages in development of a foetus from the production of sex cells to birth.
  • Describe causes of low fertility in male and female reproductive systems.
  • Identify key events on a diagram of the menstrual cycle

Relate advice to pregnant women to ideas about transfer of substances to the embryo


  • Explain observations where sound is reflected, transmitted or absorbed by different media.
  • Explain observations of how sound travels using the idea of a longitudinal wave.
  • Describe the amplitude and frequency of a wave from a diagram or oscilloscope picture.
  • Use drawings of waves to describe how sound waves change with volume or pitch.

Relate changes in the shape of an oscilloscope trace to changes in pitch and volume


  • Use ray diagrams of eclipses to describe what is seen by observers in different places.
  • Explain observations where coloured lights are mixed or objects are viewed in different lights.
  • Use ray diagrams to describe how light passes through lenses and transparent materials.
  • Describe how lenses may be used to correct vision.

Use ray diagrams to model how light passes through lenses and transparent materials

Earth structure

  • Explain why a rock has a particular property based on how it was formed.
  • Identify the causes of weathering and erosion and describe how they occur.
  • Construct a labelled diagram to identify the processes of the rock cycle.

Model the processes that are responsible for rock formation and link these to the rock features

  • Analyse patterns
  • Discuss limitations
  • Draw conclusions


  • Draw a force diagram for a problem involving gravity.
  • Deduce how gravity varies for different masses and distances.
  • Compare weight on Earth with weight on different planets using the formula.

Numeracy skills by using the formula: weight (N) = mass (kg) x gravitational field strength (N/kg).

Explain the way in which

an astronaut’s weight varies on a journey to the moon


  • Describe the appearance of planets showing their position in relation to the Earth and Sun.
  • Explain why places on the Earth experience different daylight hours and amounts of sunlight during the year.
  • Describe how space exploration and observations of stars are affected by the scale of the universe.
  • Explain the choice of particular units for measuring distance.

Relate observations of changing day length to an appropriate model of the solar system

  • Analyse patterns
  • Draw conclusions
  • Present data


  • Describe how a species’ population changes as its predator or prey population changes.
  • Explain effects of environmental changes and toxic materials on a species’ population.
  • Combine food chains to form a food web.
  • Explain issues with human food supplies in terms of insect pollinators.

Use a model to investigate the impact of changes in a population of one organism on others in the ecosystem

Plant reproduction

  • Describe the main steps that take place when a plant reproduces successfully.
  • Identify parts of the flower and link their structure to their function.
  • Suggest how a plant carried out seed dispersal based on the features of its fruit or seed.
  • Explain why seed dispersal is important to survival of the parent plant and its offspring.

Use models to evaluate the features of various types of seed dispersal

Separating mixtures

  • Explain how substances dissolve using the particle model.
  • Use the solubility curve of a solute to explain observations about solutions.
  • Use evidence from chromatography to identify unknown substances in mixtures.
  • Choose the most suitable technique to separate out a mixture of substances.

Devise ways to separate mixtures, based on their properties

Voltage and resistance

  • Draw a circuit diagram to show how voltage can be measured in a simple circuit.
  • Use the idea of energy to explain how voltage and resistance affect the way components work.
  • Use the ratio of voltage to current to determine the resistance.
  • Use an analogy like water in pipes to explain why part of a circuit has higher resistance.

Compare the voltage drop across resistors connected in series in a circuit


  • Describe how current changes in series and parallel circuits when components are changed.
  • Turn circuit diagrams into real series and parallel circuits, and vice versa.
  • Describe what happens when charged objects are placed near to each other or touching.
  • Use a sketch to describe how an object charged positively or negatively became charged up.

Compare and explain current flow in different parts of a parallel circuit

 Acids and alkalis

  • Identify the best indicator to distinguish between solutions of different pH, using data provided.
  • Use data and observations to determine the pH of a solution and explain what this shows.
  • Explain how neutralisation reactions are used in a range of situations.
  • Describe a method for how to make a neutral solution from an acid and alkali

Devise an enquiry to compare how well indigestion remedies work


Year 8 Science Topics

By the end of the topic I will be able to .....

I will also be developing my investigative skills

Metals and non-metals

  • Describe an oxidation, displacement, or metal acid reaction with a word equation.
  • Use particle diagrams to represent oxidation, displacement and metal-acid reactions.
  •  Identify an unknown element from its physical and chemical properties.
  • Place an unfamiliar metal into the reactivity series based on information about its reactions
 Use experimental results to suggest an order of reactivity of various metals

Energy costs

  • Compare the amounts of energy transferred by different foods and activities.
  • Compare the energy usage and cost of running different home devices.
  • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of different energy resources.
  • Represent the energy transfers from a renewable or non-renewable resource to an electrical device in the home

Compare the running costs of fluorescent and filament light bulbs

Energy transfer

  • Describe how the energy of an object depends on its speed, temperature, height or whether it is stretched or compressed.
  • Show how energy is transferred between energy stores in a range of real-life examples.
  • Calculate the useful energy and the amount dissipated, given values of input and output energy.
  • Explain how energy is dissipated in a range of situations

Explain the energy transfers in a hand-crank torch


  • Explain whether characteristics are inherited, environmental or both.
  • Plot bar charts or line graphs to show discontinuous or continuous variation data.
  • Explain how variation helps a particular species in a changing environment.
  • Explain how characteristics of a species are adapted to particular environmental conditions.

Graph data relating to variation and explain how it may lead to the survival of a species


  • Use the idea of field lines to show how the direction or strength of the field around a magnet varies.
  • Explain observations about navigation using Earth’s magnetic field

Explore the magnetic field pattern around different types or combinations of magnets


  • Use a diagram to explain how an electromagnet can be made and how to change its strength.
  • Explain the choice of electromagnets or permanent magnets for a device in terms of their properties.

Investigate ways of varying strength of an electromagnet


  • Name compounds using their chemical formulae.
  • Given chemical formulae, name the elements present and their relative proportions.
  • Represent atoms, molecules and elements, mixtures and compounds using particle diagrams.
  • Use observations from chemical reactions to decide if an unknown substance is an element or a compound.

Compare the properties of elements with the properties of a compound formed from them

Periodic table

  • Use data to describe a trend in physical properties.
  • Describe the reaction of an unfamiliar Group 1 or 7 element.
  • Use data showing a pattern in physical properties to estimate a missing value for an element.
  • Use observations of a pattern in chemical reactions to predict the behaviour of an element in a group.

Sort elements using chemical data and relate this to their position in the periodic table


  • Explain how exercise, smoking and asthma affect the gas exchange system.
  • Explain how the parts of the gas exchange system are adapted to their function.
  • Explain observations about changes to breathing rate and volume.
  • Explain how changes in volume and pressure inside the chest move gases in and out of the lungs

Investigate a claim linking height to lung volume


  • Describe possible health effects of unbalanced diets from data provided.
  • Calculate food requirements for a healthy diet, using information provided.
  • Describe how organs and tissues involved in digestion are adapted for their role.
  • Describe the events that take place in order to turn a meal into simple food molecules inside a cell.

Evaluate how well a model represents key features of the digestive system


  • Use word equations to describe aerobic and anaerobic respiration. Explain how specific activities involve aerobic or anaerobic respiration.

Use data from investigating fermentation with yeast to explore respiration

Contact forces

  • Explain whether an object in an unfamiliar situation is in equilibrium.
  • Describe factors which affect the size of frictional and drag forces.
  • Describe how materials behave as they are stretched or squashed.
  • Describe what happens to the length of a spring when the force on it changes.

Investigate factors that affect the size of frictional or drag forces


  • Use diagrams to explain observations of fluids in terms of unequal pressure.
  • Explain why objects either sink or float depending upon their weight and the upthrust acting on them.
  • Explain observations where the effects of forces are different because of differences in the area over which they apply.
  • Given unfamiliar situations, use the formula to calculate fluid pressure or stress on a surface.

Investigate how pressure from your foot onto the ground varies with different footwear

Earth resources

  • Explain why recycling of some materials is particularly important.
  • Describe how Earth’s resources are turned into useful materials or recycled.
  • Justify the choice of extraction method for a metal, given data about reactivity.
  • Suggest factors to take into account when deciding whether extraction of a metal is practical.

Predict the method used

for extracting a metal

based on its position in

the reactivity series

  • Analyse patterns
  • Draw conclusions
  • Present data
  • Communicate
  • Construct explanations


  • Describe ways in which plants obtain resources for photosynthesis.
  • Explain why other organisms are dependent on photosynthesis.
  • Sketch a line graph to show how the rate of photosynthesis is affected by changing conditions.
  • Use a word equation to describe photosynthesis in plants and algae.

Use lab tests on variegated leaves to show that chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis


  • Know how Carbon is recycled in the environment
  • Interpret the effect of Greenhouse gases on Global Warming
  • Describe the work of Scientists and the evidence being gathered to show how human activity is causing changes in climate.

Investigate the contribution

that natural and human

chemical processes make to our carbon dioxide emissions

  • Communicate ideas
  • Construct explanations
  • Justify opinions
  • Examine consequences
  • Review theories

Heating and cooling

  • Explain observations about changing temperature in terms of energy transfer.
  • Describe how an object’s temperature changes over time when heated or cooled.
  • Explain how a method of thermal insulation works in terms of conduction, convection and radiation.
  • Sketch diagrams to show convection currents in unfamiliar situations

Investigate how to prevent heat loss by conduction, convection and radiation

Types of reaction

  • Explain why a reaction is an example of combustion or thermal decomposition.
  • Predict the products of the combustion or thermal decomposition of a given reactant and show the reaction as a word equation.
  • Explain observations about mass in a chemical or physical change.
  • Use particle diagrams to show what happens in a reaction.

Investigate changes in mass for chemical and physical processes

Wave properties

  • Describe the properties of different longitudinal and transverse waves.
  • Use the wave model to explain observations of the reflection, absorption and transmission of a wave

Use the wave model to explain observations of the reflection, absorption and transmission of waves


Key Stage 4

Science is a core subject and must be studied by all students until they leave school. There are two routes of study at KS4 Science, both routes follow AQA specifications.  These new science GCSE will be first examined in 2018.

  • Separate science GCSEs (Biology, Chemistry, Physics - 3 GCSE grades are awarded at the end of the course)
  • Combined Science GCSE- Trilogy (2 GCSE grades are awarded at the end of the course)

In year 9 students will start their GCSE studies having spent the autumn term further developing the necessary practical & mathematical skills they require for KS4 science study. By the end of year 8, some students will have opted to study the separate sciences. The majority of students will continue studying combined science in years 9,10 & 11.

For more details on each of the GCSEs we offer including specification and assessment details, please use the links below.

GCSE Biology- http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/biology-8461

GCSE Chemistry- http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/chemistry-8462

GCSE Physics- http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/physics-8463

GCSE Combined science: Trilogy- http://www.aqa.org.uk/subjects/science/gcse/combined-science-trilogy-8464/

Students will be placed in a set that reflects their ability in the subject and a range of assessments will be used to determine the most appropriate set.  

All qualifications are linear. Linear means that students will sit all their exams at the end of the course. There is no coursework.

Subject content

All pupils will study the subject topics outlined in the table below. Those pupils studying separate science study each topic in more depth.

There are two exams for each component Biology, Chemistry and Physics. For students taking Combined Science, the papers are 1h15 minutes in length and each is marked out of 70.

For students taking Separate Science, the papers are 1h45 minutes and each is marked out of 100.

Instead of coursework, there are 21 required practical activities which are completed during the KS4 course. Questions on these practicals will appear on the final exam.

The required practicals






Food tests


Reaction time

Field investigations

1 Cell biology

2 Organisation

3 Infection and response

4 Bioenergetics

5 Homeostasis and response

6 Inheritance, variation and evolution

7 Ecology


Making salts


Temperature changes

Rates of reaction


Water purification

8 Atomic structure and the periodic table

9 Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter

10 Quantitative chemistry

11 Chemical changes

12 Energy changes

13 The rate and extent of chemical change

14 Organic chemistry

15 Chemical analysis

16 Chemistry of the atmosphere

17 Using resources


Specific heat capacity


I-V characteristics


Force and extension



Radiation and absorption

18 Energy

19 Waves

20 Electricity

21 Magnetism and electromagnetism

22 Particle model of matter

23 Atomic structure

24 Forces

25 Space (GCSE Physics only)

Entry Level Certificate (ELC)

Entry Level Certificates (ELCs) in science are designed for a minority of lower ability students who may not achieve a grade 1 at GCSE.

The topics studied are the same as for GCSE Combined Science and would therefore allow students to progress up to GCSE.

There are 6 components, each of which has an externally set end of unit assessment. This is marked by the class teacher and moderated externally. Practical work is undertaken regularly and assessment pieces are marked by the class teacher and again, submitted to an external moderator at the end of the course.

Please follow the link below for further information:



Key Stage 5

The Science Department offers a choice of 4 courses in the sixth form and is the biggest department.  Overall, at least 10% of the marks in all assessments will require the use of mathematical skills. These skills will be applied across a wide range of contexts and will be at least the standard of higher tier GCSE mathematics.

Students will sit all of their external examinations at the end of the A- level course at the end of Year 13.

AQA A-level Biology

Preconditions for taking the course

A grade 7 or above in GCSE Biology and a grade 7 or above in Mathematics are needed or at least the combination of grades 7,7 in the Combined Science GCSE component if you have not taken separate sciences.

The core content topics are:

Biological molecules
Organisms exchange substances with their environment
Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
Energy transfers in and between organisms (A-level only)
Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments (A-level only)
Genetics, populations, evolutions and ecosystems (A-level only)
The control of gene expressions (A-level only)

Please follow the link below for further information:



AQA A-level Chemistry

Preconditions for taking the course

A grade 7 or above in GCSE Chemistry and a grade 7 or above in Mathematics are needed or at least the combination of grades 7,7 in the Combined Science GCSE if you have not taken separate sciences.

The core content topics are:

Organic Chemistry
Physical Chemistry
Inorganic Chemistry

Please follow the link below for further information:



AQA A-level Physics

Preconditions for taking the course

A grade 7 or above in GCSE Physics and a grade 7 or above in Mathematics are needed or at least the combination of grades 7,7 in the Combined Science GCSE if you have not taken separate sciences.

The core content topics are:

Measurements and their errors
Particles and radiation
Mechanics and materials
Further mechanics and thermal physics (A-level only)
Fields and their consequences (A-level only)
Nuclear physics (A-level only)
Astrophysics (A-level only)
Medical physics (A-level only)
Engineering physics (A-level only)
Turning point in physics (A-level only)
Electronics (A-level only)

Please follow the link below for further information:



Pearson BTEC Level 3 Applied Science

This course is suitable for students who wish to follow a science course at KS5 and keep open their options for further scientific study. Assessment is internally based, and students have the opportunity to achieve up to distinction * standard in all of their assignments. Independent learning skills, as well as research skills, are of the utmost importance and students will also carry out many practical activities in lessons.

BTEC Nationals are career-based qualifications designed to give students the skills they need to move on to higher education or go straight into employment.

More employers and Higher Education institutions than ever before are choosing BTEC-qualified candidates for their academic and practical knowledge and skills.

With a track record built over 30 years of learner success, BTEC Nationals are widely recognised by industry and higher education as the signature vocational qualification at Level 3. They provide progression to the workplace either directly or via study at a higher level.

Proof comes from YouGov research, which shows that 62% of large companies have recruited employees with BTEC qualifications. What’s more, well over 100,000 BTEC students apply to UK universities every year and their BTEC Nationals are accepted by over 150 UK universities and higher education institutes for relevant degree programmes either on their own or in combination with A Levels.

Preconditions for taking the course

A grade 4 or above in separate science GCSE exams or a combination of at least 4,4 in Combined Science and a grade 4 or above in Mathematics are needed to be able to study this course.

Please follow the link below for further information:




At KS3 we offer a STEM club at lunchtime.  Students are also able to apply to become Science Ambassadors.

There are many opportunities for students to attend lectures on topics from Nanotechnology to Quantum Physics and Space Science and visit University departments. We also have a number of students taking part in the University of Liverpool Nuclear Physics Masterclasses. There are links with the John Moores’ University Chemistry Department.

Students often help out at open evenings and Science students at Holy Family are invited to participate in an international Science study tour to a major European city once a year. To date we have visited The Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and have visited Universities to undertake lab work in Berlin and Brussels. There have been visits to Barcelona and Budapest.

Useful Websites Links

To help GCSE students, here are a few online revision resources:


A useful revision aid with videos on a variety of science topics. Search for videos by topic and level.


Choose an activity, revise it, test it and remember it! S-cool includes overviews, exam style questions, multiple choice questions and revision summaries on a range of GCSE science topics.


A classic revision aid with subject overviews, interactive activities and questions on a variety of topics from different syllabi.


With over 3,100 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, GCSE students should be able to find videos on the topics they need.


Check out the Planet Science YouTube playlists for inspiration.


Designed to help students studying AQA Core Science, Additional Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Each video is accompanied by revision notes and more videos are added every week.


Exam tips, revision notes and links to past papers


GCSE revision questions and quizzes


Exam board pages for Core (4405) and Additional Science (4408) and also Biology (4401), Chemistry (4402) and Physics (4403) with links to syllabus and past papers


Online homework website


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Mr M Symes,

Holy Family Catholic High School

 Virgins Lane.


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