In Chemistry, boys are introduced to its aims, its methods and its role in our society. Class practical work is introduced from the outset and by the end of the first year boys should be able to work safely and with a high degree of independence.
The first term in Year 7 is devoted to practical applications of Chemistry: separation of mixtures, acids and bases, indicators and chromatography. In the second and third terms there is a shift in emphasis as the chemical changes studied are placed in a theoretical framework based on the understanding of elements, compounds and reactivity. Year 8 work develops these themes and expands the theoretical base to include formulae and equations.
In Years 9, 10 and 11 the Chemistry Department follows the Edexcel IGCSE specification leading to a GCSE at the end of the Year 11. Assessment on this course is by terminal examination only; there is no coursework. The course develops an increasingly sophisticated theoretical understanding of the subject while continuing to emphasise the practical basis of the subject and its vital contribution to contemporary society. In Year 9 the key concepts of atomic structure, bonding, the mole and periodicity are introduced and then used as the basis for extending the study of the elements. In Year 10, basic ideas on rates of reactions, thermochemistry, metal extraction and Organic Chemistry are introduced. This continues into Year 11 when the concept of equilibrium is introduced, along with associated industrial processes, and the theoretical understanding of acids and bases is extended.
In the Sixth Form, boys follow the Edexcel specification, which extends and develop the ideas of IGCSE Chemistry introducing more modern concepts such as atomic and molecular orbitals and treating reactivity on the basis of understanding simple thermodynamics including entropy.
The courses are each divided into two modules, all self-contained with clear learning objectives. The emphasis of the syllabus is on the relevance of the subject to everyday life and it is therefore an interesting and dynamic course for boys to study. Assessment is by terminal examination (80%) and continuous assessment (20%). The A2 course is a more advanced treatment of the ideas studied at AS, building on earlier concepts. The structure of content and assessment in A2 is similar to that in the AS. The results at AS and A2 combined give the overall Advanced level grade.