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Science


Science Faculty Vision

Our vision is to inspire our students on a lifelong adventure to understand the workings of the Universe, the Earth, and Life itself. We seek to empower our students to fully engage with your world and work towards the common good.

Science provides an opportunity for an astounding lifelong journey to understand the Universe and the physical laws that govern it, from the infinitely large to the infinitesimally small. An exploration into the origins and workings of our own watery, rocky world, our Earth, teeming with life, hurtling through space around a star called the Sun, just one star in a sea of billions of stars in a galaxy called the Milky Way. A journey into the wondrous interacting, reacting, chemical elements, the building blocks of the stars, the planets, and the vast array of materials on our Earth, including your very own body! An adventure into the origins and workings of life itself and the astonishing biodiversity that our Earth cradles.

Science also provides many career opportunities as well as being an essential component of understanding the society we live in. Therefore, we provide pathways and support for students with a view to further education and employment. We also seek for our students to approach scientific issues ethically.

A long and successful history 

Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School has been in existence for over 400 years. For at least 100 years, Science has been taught to the young people of Dronfield, initially in lofty ancient rooms which smelt of chemicals and teak and now in modern, light, airy laboratories. Over the years, thousands of students have learnt science and gained qualifications to take them on to work in local industries or to study at colleges or universities. In that time they have become, engineers, doctors, dentists, vets, nurses, pharmacists, biologists, physicists and chemists. Some have gained first class honours from the top universities and gone on to do research worldwide.

Aims of the Science Faculty

Today, our science teachers continue that tradition, aiming to offer inspiring science lessons to students of all abilities, both inside the laboratory and further afield. We aim to provide appropriate science courses and guidance for all our students, whatever their abilities and aspirations, and prepare them for a world in which scientific and technological developments are growing rapidly. We seek to make all our students aware of the wonders and achievements of science within the community of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Our aims are derived from the whole school aims and can be distilled into 10 areas:

  • 1. We want our students to understand scientific knowledge
  • 2. We want our students to understand the scientific process and skills
  • 3. We want students to develop a love of learning and thirst for knowledge
  • 4. We want our students to relate and apply science to relevant contexts including everyday ones
  • 5. We want students to appreciate how science and its development is embedded in history
  • 6. We want our students to understand the rich vocabulary of science, read a range of scientific literature fluently and use the vocabulary confidently
  • 7. We want students to recognise the interconnections between science and other STEM subjects and all other subjects in the curriculum
  • 8. We want all students to access the curriculum
  • 9. We want our students to be ethical and take responsibility for their environment
  • 10. We want to provide pathways for students and support students in their decisions and maximise their life-chances

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Big Ideas

Scientific knowledge is vast. No-one can get anywhere near to knowing it all. Therefore, to understand science, unifying concepts or ‘models’ are required to help explain a vast array of data and phenomenon to avoid science becoming a vast array of disconnected facts. We call these unifying concepts ‘Big Ideas’. We use them to interconnect our topics together and progressively provide meaning and understanding. We use 10 Big Ideas of Science, which are taken from Wynne Harlen’s ‘Working with Big Ideas of Science Education’, which was based on extensive research into science education in secondary schools.

We have organised the ideas and topics into a logical and meaningful sequence. We start with the most fundamental ideas and build up to a more sophisticated synthesis and integration of these ideas. As a result, concepts are continually revisited as the curriculum ‘spirals’ and knowledge of the ideas deepens. ‘Small’ spirals occur within in each key stage and larger spiralling takes place from key stage 3 to 4. As the ideas progress and deepen, students should identify that they unify.

We have selected icons to represent the Big Ideas and seek to use these in our lessons to enable students to build schema and interconnections between topics. The table below outlines the Big Ideas we use:

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Scientific Skills

Throughout the Key Stage 3 topics, students develop investigative skills and an understanding of the scientific process. Whilst the skills overlap, the skills developed fall into the categories in the list below. The development of literacy and numeracy skills are also embedded in these.

  • Understanding and Explaining: Students develop use of scientific terminology and use of scientific models to explain observations and data.
  • Developing Arguments: Students evaluate and use evidence to support or refute arguments.
  • Designing Experiments: Students design experiments to develop an understanding of variables, validity, accuracy, precision, reliability, equipment, methods and risk.
  • Presenting data: Students present data in tables and charts
  • Analysis, conclusions and evaluation - Students describe patterns in data and process data to reveal further patterns and assess the reliability. Students interpret and explain data and assess its reliability. Students devise ways of improving investigations.
  • Applications and Implications: Students relate scientific ideas and discoveries to people and society including careers and ethical contexts.
  • Collaboration in science: Students develop an understanding of the collaborative nature of the scientific process and develop their own collaboration skills.

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Investigative skills and the scientific process

This area of our curriculum is currently under review.

Currently, scientific and mathematical skills are integrated throughout our science curriculum and will continue to be so. However, we are seeking to distil these skills into a student-friendly iconographic framework and integrate this with our Big Ideas approach. Our skills can be broken down as follows:

  • Understanding and Explaining: Students develop use of scientific terminology and use of scientific models to explain observations and data.
  • Developing Arguments: Students evaluate and use evidence to support or refute arguments.
  • Designing Experiments: Students design experiments to develop an understanding of variables, validity, accuracy, precision, reliability, equipment, methods and risk.
  • Presenting data: Students present data in tables and charts
  • Analysis, conclusions and evaluation - Students describe patterns in data and process data to reveal further patterns and assess the reliability. Students interpret and explain data and assess its reliability. Students devise ways of improving investigations.
  • Applications and Implications: Students relate scientific ideas and discoveries to people and society including careers and ethical contexts.
  • Collaboration in science: Students develop an understanding of the collaborative nature of the scientific process and develop their own collaboration skills.

We are also seeking to further develop our curriculum in terms of the scientific process, based on the following principles:

  • Science assumes that for every effect there is one or more causes: Science is a search to explain and understand phenomena in the natural world in terms of causes. Proposed explanations should be based on supporting evidence from observations and experiments. Although there is no single scientific method for generating and testing scientific explanations, we do emphasise the use of the classic hypothetico-deductive method broken down into:
    • Planning
    • Observing 
    • Presenting Results
    • Analysis
    • Conclusions
    • Evaluations
  • Scientific explanations, theories and models are those that best fit the facts known at a particular time: A scientific theory or model representing relationships between variables or components of a system must fit the observations available at the time and lead to predictions that can be tested. Any theory or model is provisional and subject to revision in the light of new data even though it may have led to predictions in accord with data in the past. Every model has its strengths and limitations in accounting for observations.
  • The knowledge produced by science is used in some technologies to create products to serve human ends: The use of scientific ideas in technologies has made considerable changes in many aspects of human activity. Advances in technologies enable further scientific activity; in turn this increases understanding helping to satisfy human curiosity about the natural world. In some areas of human activity technology is ahead of scientific ideas, but in others scientific ideas precede technology.
  • Applications of science often have ethical, social, economic and political implications: The use of scientific knowledge in technologies makes many innovations possible. Whether or not particular applications of science are desirable is a matter that science alone cannot address. Ethical and moral judgments may be needed, based on such considerations as human safety and impacts on people and the environment.

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Assessment

From Y7 to Y13 assessment by the teacher is carried out in a variety of ways and is on-going. This includes verbal responses, presentations, classwork and homework. Each topic is assessed more formally in an end-of-topic written test and formal exams take place at the end of the academic year. A strong emphasis is put on the value of formative assessment and students are always given the opportunity to reflect on their assessments and work out how they could have done it better.

Grouping

Students are in mixed-ability groups in Year 7, but work is carefully designed at different levels to enable all students to be appropriately stretched and challenged. Form Year 8 to Y11 students are broadly grouped according to assessment outcomes, but a range of other factors may be considered. In Y12 and Y13 students are grouped based on their A-level options.

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Key Stage 3

Dronfield Key Stage 3 science curriculum follows the National Curriculum and, where appropriate, stretches students beyond the National Curriculum. The aim of KS3 is to develop fundamental scientific knowledge and investigative skills, and to relate these to real life contexts and the personal experiences of students. Topics are, broadly speaking, divided equally between physics, chemistry and biology, but fundamental concepts and skills are taught to be applied across the academic boundaries. Students complete Key Stage 3 in Year 9, at which point they commence the first units of GCSE AQA sciences that helps inform their decision to opt for AQA separate sciences (Triple Science), or AQA combined science (Trilogy).

 

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  • Year 7

    Year 7 Big Ideas and Sequence

    Year 7 introduces the most fundamental scientific Big Ideas and skills that are then deepened and developed throughout key stage 3, 4 and 5. We start with the most fundamental ideas, which are continually revisited as the curriculum spirals. We use icons as a framework explore how the topics interconnect.

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  • Year 8

    Year 8 Big Ideas and Sequence

    In Year 8 students broaden, deepen and integrate their understanding of the Big Ideas in more sophisticated contexts.

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  • Year 9

    Year 9 Big Ideas and Sequence

    In Year 9 students are exposed to GCSE content and deepen their understanding of the ideas. The spiral design of the curriculum enables students to explore the same ideas they did in KS3, but in greater depth. The exposure to the GCSE content also enables students to make informed decisions about GCSE options.

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Key Stage 4

Approximately 35% of our Year 10 and 11 students study AQA separate sciences: biology, chemistry and physics. Each separate science leads to one GCSE qualification. The remaining 65% of our students study AQA combined science (trilogy), leading to two GCSEs. Within combined science students study the three scientific subjects. Biology, chemistry and physics. Both GCSE options are a potential route to studying A-level sciences or Level 3 BTEC Applied Science.
A small number of students may study for the AQA ELC qualification. This is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

GCSE Science builds on the fundamental principles and skills taught in Key Stage 3 and continues with the same Big Ideas, but in greater depth and sophistication. Each course covers the same modules, although the separate sciences have some additional topics.

The following documents show the modules and topics covered by both the separate and combined sciences:

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Pathways

Students can opt for combined science or triple science at Key Stage 4. Students can opt for A-levels or Level 3 BTEC Applied Science at Key Stage 5.

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  • Year 10 Year 11
    • Year 10 Combined Science Big Ideas and Sequence

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    • Year 11 Combined Science Big Ideas and Sequence

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    • GCSE Biology Big Ideas and Sequence

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    • GCSE Chemistry Big Ideas and Sequence

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    • GCSE Physics Big Ideas and Sequence

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Key Stage 5

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  • Year 12 Year 13

    We offer the following courses at A level:

    • OCR Biology A
    • OCR Chemistry B (Salters' Chemistry)
    • AQA Physics A

    Currently all science students complete AS levels in Year 12. Students can opt to stop at this point or opt to complete the full A-level. However, AS grades will not count towards their final A levels. Practical skills are integrated into the teaching throughout the A level courses and are assessed in written exams. In addition, students will carry out a separate 'Practical Endorsement' during Year 13.

    From September 2020 students will still also be able to study for L3 BTEC Applied Science Extended Certificate equivalent to one A-level.

    Further details related to these courses and admission can be found on the sixth form area of the website and at the Y12 open evening.

    Links to Key Stage 5 Specifications and Course Handbooks

    Biology 
    OCR AS & A Level - Biology
    DHFS VLE - Biology

    Chemistry
    OCR AS & A Level - Salters Chemistry
    DHFS VLE - Chemistry

    Physics
    AQA AS & A Level - Physics

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Resources

The Science Faculty has 11 modern laboratories and a dedicated computer room. The faculty has subscriptions to Educake to support homework and assessment at Key Stage 3 and 4. Online textbooks are provided for Key Stage 4 and 5 students using ‘Kerboodle’. The faculty also promotes the use of further reading and informs the reading lists available from the LRC.

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Extra curricular activities

As well as laboratory based lessons, we have a full range of "Out of Class" learning activities. These include field trips and industrial visits and a vibrant variety of activities during National Science Week.

Science Club undertakes projects and competitions and does a yearly presentation of their research to parents. Pet and Animal Club has visited local farms and invited guest speakers complete with their animals!

The faculty aims for 6th form students to run a 'Cafe Scientifique'. This is an opportunity for sixth formers and staff to come and discuss scientific research and issues in the relaxed and informal setting, with visits from professional scientists whenever possible.. Speakers in previous years have discussed topics ranging from animal testing in cardiovascular research and biotechnology in botany.

We have strong links with local primary schools, whose classes visit us for laboratory activities and competitions. Henry Fanshawe Science teachers and students also take science lessons into primary schools.

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Staff

The Science Faculty has a range of young and experienced staff with the full range of specialisms;

  • Alcock, James (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Baxter, William (Teacher, Physics Specialist)
  • Billups-Walker, Marie (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Brumby, Elizabeth (Science Technician)
  • Cant, Kay (Key Stage 3 Leader)
  • Cornthwaite, Gill (Teaching Assistant)
  • Davies, Trudie (Deputy Headteacher, Biology Specialist) 
  • Gowers, Ruth (Key Stage 4 Leader, Physics Specialist)
  • Hawkins, Simon (Head of Faculty, Biology Specialist)
  • Hollings, Claire (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Horsfield, Rachel (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Horvarth, Beth (Science Technician)
  • Jones, Amy (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Jones, Carol (Science Technician)
  • Keith, Gillian (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Osborne, David (Teacher, Physics Specialist)
  • Shortman, Christopher (Key Stage 5 Leader, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Skinner, Amanda (Lead Science Technician)
  • Varley, Peter (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Webster, Lisa (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Webster, Rob (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Welch, Daryl (Teacher, Physics Specialist) 
  • Woodhouse, Jasmine (Science Technician)
  • Wordsworth, Nicola (Teacher, KS4 Intervention)

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Websites to help students learn about Science

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