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Studying Chemistry at Bloxham School

Chemistry is a fundamental science, a fascinating and varied subject that plays a pivotal role in all aspects of modern life. Indeed, the products of chemical industries have myriad uses, including energy production, transportation, fibres and plastics, health and well-being (agrochemicals, pharmaceuticals and foodstuffs) as well providing us with all materials which we use in our daily lives.

Chemistry in the Lower School

Lower School follows an in-house course in chemistry. Classes are taught in small mixed ability groups and have two periods per week. The course is written to be a sound foundation for the transition to the GCSE course starting in the Third Form. Topics covered include: the particle model of matter, atoms and elements, acids and alkalis, air and water pollution, separating mixtures and chemical reactions.

Chemistry from Third Form upwards

GCSE teaching commences in the Third Form. We follow the AQA Chemistry GCSE syllabus (8462) with a view that our most able pupils taking chemistry as a separate science; in order to facilitate this we teach the course over three years. Pupils study chemistry for three periods per week.

In the Third Form the year is split into four/five broad ability sets of between 10 and 18 pupils, studying the core topics of the GCSE course including: fundamental ideas in chemistry, crude oil, the periodic table, air and water, reactivity of metals and energy changes.

At the end of the Fourth Form a decision is made as to which pupils will go on to study three individual science GCSEs, or which are more suited to the double award science course. Topics studied include: bonding and structure, chemical reactions and calculations, acids and bases, structure of metals, hydrocarbons and polymers.

In the Fifth Form the year group is divided in to sets taking the separate sciences and the double award course. Topics include: electrolysis, analysis, ammonia and further organic chemistry.

Throughout all three GCSE years, pupils experience and develop their confidence and skill levels through varied and challenging practical work. Practical work plays a cornerstone for the GCSE exams and is assessed through 6-8 required practicals.

Chemistry in the Sixth Form

At A Level the AQA course (7405) is followed, which is a traditional chemistry course and encompasses physical, inorganic and organic chemistry topics. Assessment incorporates three written exams and a practical assessment component (12 required practicals: split over the two years). Sixth Form class sizes usually vary between six and twelve students.

Lower Sixth units: atomic structure, amount of substance, bonding and structure, energetics, kinetics, equilibria, redox, periodicity, groups 1 and 7, organic molecules (alkanes, alkenes, halogenoalkanes and alcohols) and organic analysis.

Upper Sixth units: thermodynamics, rate equations, transition metals, electrochemistry (potentials and cells), reactions of ions, period 3 elements, organic molecules (carbonyls, carboxyls, aromatics, amines, polymers and amino acid and related biological molecules), spectroscopic and analytical techniques and organic synthesis.