Curriculum Team Leader: Dr. O.G. Richards
Urmston Grammar School achieved Science college status in 2004. At Urmston we continue to use our specialist status to create a challenging environment which raises standards of achievement and the quality of teaching and learning in Science and Mathematics for all our pupils.
The Science Faculty work effectively as a team of fourteen teachers, supported by four experienced technicians. Our aim is to help pupils to develop an understanding of themselves and the world around them. We seek to stimulate curiosity, interest and enjoyment of Science, and at the same time help pupils to develop a responsible attitude to safety and a respect for living organisms and the physical environment
KS3 pupils have 3 x 70 minute lessons per week and teaching is carried out in mixed ability groups. Science is delivered in units as part of a broad and balanced course that includes biology, chemistry and physics
The KS3 curriculum has recently been remodelled to take account of the changes in the revised national curriculum and all pupils in Years 7 & 8 are following schemes of work which are based around “Exploring Science”.
Pupils are set tests for each pair of teaching units during the term and these are closely linked to relevant national attainment targets. Several units have tasks for the pupils to assess their level of achievements and to identify any difficulties. Assessments for learning tasks are used regularly to move individual pupils’ understanding forward.
Units in Year 7 include Cells, Electricity and Particles, Chemical Reactions and Reproduction. In addition, a series of ‘Let’s Think’ science lessons are integrated in the curriculum to develop cognitive skills in our pupils. These lessons are designed to promote higher levels of thinking in our pupils and to raise their achievements at GCSE.
Units in Year 8 include Elements, Sound & Light, Photosynthesis & Respiration and Space.
In Year 9 a co-ordinated approach is adopted to give pupils the benefit of specialist teachers in Physics, Chemistry and Biology. In the autumn of Year 9 follow an ‘in-house’ course that introduces GCSE science and develops an understanding of how science works. In October, pupils start their GCSE courses and in the spring term pupils will select their science option for years 10 & 11. Pupils may select either a combined science 2-GCSE course or three separate GCSE sciences.
Experimental work forms a large part of all units and occasionally part of homework. The schemes of work promote the teaching of scientific enquiry to ensure that pupils are properly prepared for assessments and the required practical element of the KS4 curriculum.
In Year 10 pupils continue to study the GCSE specifications in the sciences. The two courses available are both designed to promote a spirit of enquiry and will provide a firm foundation for further learning in science. The courses highlight the scientific process and the implications of Science for our society. All pupils study Biology Chemistry and Physics as either a separate science course (3-GCSE’s) or combined sciences course (2-GCSE’s).
In the Sixth Form we offer Advanced Level courses in Biology, Chemistry, Physics. All of these courses are linear, with a final assessment in May/June of year 13. End-of-year assessments and topic tests are used to assess and monitor progress throughout the course. EPQ qualifications (AQA) are also available and are successfully completed by a number of students.
Our continued Science College status has enabled us to offer a variety of enrichment activities to our pupils. Various activities are offered each year and are aimed at pupils from all year groups. Day trips and a residential field study are arranged by the faculty and all ‘A’ level Biology students spend 3 days carrying out practical ecological studies in Yorkshire.
The Faculty also have a greenhouse, school pond and Biology garden, which are valuable resources used to enrich the curriculum. Year 12 and 13 Biologists also have the opportunity to make use of our electron microscope which was donated to the school by Electron Optical services.
Our continued Science College status has enabled us to offer a variety of enrichment activities to our pupils. Various activities are offered each year and are aimed at pupils from all year groups.
The Science and Engineering club takes places once a week after school and provides pupils with the opportunity to pursue areas of interest and use more sophisticated equipment. It is currently aimed at the lower school with Sixth Form students offering assistance. This club has allowed pupils to participate in the bronze CREST awards.
One of the first school based “Café Sci” in the U.K. has been established at Urmston Grammar School. This informal event is organised by students for students. It provides a forum to discuss topical scientific issues in a relaxed café atmosphere. We are also very proud to hold the record nationally for the longest running Café Sci programme.
The cafes continue to be sponsored by Starbucks. We are also very proud to hold the record nationally for the longest running Café Sci programme.
The school participate in the Engineering Education Scheme which involves sixth form students working on a design brief with engineers, recent projects have involved Whitbybird a civil engineering company based in Manchester and United Utilities. Year 9 pupils work with teachers from Mathematics, Science and Technology on an engineering competition called GO 4 SET. The Sixth Form students attend evening lectures of scientific interest and we regularly enter them in a variety of competitions, these have included Biology and Chemistry Olympiads.
Keen scientists in the Sixth Form are offered the opportunity to win Nuffield Bursaries. Students have been involved in a range of research projects including looking at the incidence of skin cancer, investigating epidemiology and working with patients who have cardiovascular disease. Some students have been given the opportunity to carry out engineering based research projects. Students were awarded CREST gold awards for their research carried out at Manchester and Manchester Metropolitan Universities.
We have strong links with our partner primary schools. The Science and Mathematics Faculties have worked closely with our partnership primary schools on a variety of projects. Over the last few years we have invited all Year 6 pupils in our feeder schools to Science lectures which are sponsored by the Royal Institution. Various lectures have been enjoyed by the youngsters including “Science is fun with liquid nitrogen” and “Music to your ears”. We have also established Science and Maths Clubs at the primary schools run by Urmston Grammar staff and sixth form students. Pupils from primary school have also taken part in lessons and clubs in the laboratories in school. This has helped to ensure that the transition process runs as smoothly as possible.