At Haberdashers', boys are introduced to the broad nature of Physics, the language that is used to communicate knowledge and the basics of both experimental approaches and equipment that are used to investigate it.
Safety in the Physics laboratory is a paramount theme for Year 7, beginning with the introduction of basic rules of conduct in laboratories and building up to the importance of careful consideration of the hazards involved in any planned procedure so as to reduce risks to acceptable levels. Experimental work is central to the majority of Physics lessons. Through a variety of observations and by collecting evidence first-hand boys are instilled with an excitement for the subject as well as a sense of independent enquiry.
The Year 7 course covers an introduction to the fundamentals of light, electricity, measurement and forces. This provides the foundation that allows boys in Year 8 to consider how a force can cause a turning effect, give rise to pressure in all states of matter and an introduction to astronomy and abstract ideas such as energy and heat transfer.
Year 9 marks the beginning of the delivery of material for Edexcel IGCSE Physics. The course is externally examined at the end of Year 11, and there is no coursework component. Experimental methods and techniques are further developed as the quantitative nature of the subject is given greater emphasis within the context of both problem solving and practical work. Graphical and numerical skills are a particular focus of our study of both mechanics and electricity in Year 9 whilst boys become more proficient in technical drawing as the topic of ‘light’ is revisited.
The cultural and social significance of Physics is embedded within the coverage of sound and waves, leading to our perception of sound, musical instruments, and noise.
In year 10, the pivotal role of physicists in shaping future decisions regarding energy supplies is a component of the study of nuclear physics and radioactivity, as well as further examples of applications of Physics for the benefit of society. This nestles alongside a review and extension of fundamental laws of forces are major electromagnetic applications, electrical charges and charge transfer, as well as an opportunity to discuss big questions regarding the scale, structure and evolution of the universe. Whilst revision and examination paper reparation is a significant component of Year 11, boys continue to be extended by microscopic explanations of pressure and temperature and the principles of electromagnetic induction for examples.
The higher level of demand as the IGCSE course draws to a close coincides with widespread participation in the Physics Challenge competition and many boys deciding that they wish to continue to study physics at Sixth Form level. Sixth Form Physicists follow AQA GCE Physics A. The specification provides a smooth transition from previous studies and develops interest and enthusiasm for the subject at a more sophisticated conceptual level. It also provides an appropriate pathway to university courses in Physics and other subjects in which Physics is a key component. The course allows a variety of starting points but Lower Sixth boys will experience contrasting topics in the principles and applications of particle physics, electricity, materials, mechanics and waves. Assessment is through two written module exams, and the practical abilities of boys are assessed internally through verification of practical skills demonstrated in experimental procedures throughout the year and then by an externally marked exam. In the Upper Sixth the course develops further the knowledge, understanding and applications of fields, nuclear and thermal physics with assessment following the same format as for AS Physics.