Sandbach high school

Our Vision

Our vision is to deliver a curriculum that provides our students with

  • KNOWLEDGE about ourselves and the world around us
  • PASSION for Science, it’s advancement and the related careers
  • SKILLS including maths skills and working scientifically skills

Curriculum Lead

Curriculum Leader – Mr P. Hilton, 

Curriculum - KS3 and KS4

Key Stage 3 

 In Years 7,8 and 9 students are set within a cluster of subjects: Science, Mathematics and Modern Foreign Languages. In years 7, 8 and 9, students receive 6 x 1 hour science lessons per fortnight. 

 The department follows the AQA scheme of work for both KS3 and KS4 with a ‘spiral curriculum’ where topics are addressed a number of times with increasing detail and complexity. Topics covered at KS3 include: 

  • Earth – Structure, Climate, Resources and the Universe
  • Ecosystems – Interdependence, Plant Reproduction, Respiration and Photosynthesis
  • Electromagnetism – Voltage, Current and Resistance, Electromagnets, Magnetism
  • Energy – Energy Costs, Energy Transfer, Work, Heating and Cooling
  • Forces – Speed, Gravity, Contact Forces, Pressure
  • Genetics – Variation, Human Reproduction, Evolution and Inheritance
  • Matter – Particle Model, Separating Mixtures, Periodic Table
  • Organisms – Movement, Cells, Breathing, Digestion
  • Chemical Reactions – Metals and Non-Metals, Acids and Alkalis, Chemical Energy and Types of Reaction
  • Waves – Sound, Light, Wave Effects and Properties

These topics provide the fundamental knowledge across the three different Science disciplines which is then built upon at Key Stage 4. The image below shows the order in which these KS3 topics are delivered, as well as the later GCSE topics

Lessons at KS3 focus on providing pupils with fun and interesting activities to help them understand the importance of science in our everyday lives. In Year 8, students get the opportunity to prepare models / displays of an aspect of science to share in the annual STEM fair which takes place during Science Week in March.

From the Spring term of Year 9 there is a gradual transition to the GCSE curriculum introducing some of the easier topics which will then be revisited and consolidated in Year 10.

 Assessment in Key Stage 3 

End of Topic Tests

Larger Assessments

After a class has studied two different topics at KS3 they will complete a short assessment to see what have they learnt and what knowledge they’re able to apply

Twice a year each KS3 class will complete a larger written assessment. This will include a mixture of questions from several different topics and of varying challenge. The aim of these is to start to familiarise our students with the types of assessment they will see at GCSE.

Key stage 4  

In the Spring of Year 9 all students start to transition to the study of GCSE Science, sitting their external exams in the summer of Year 11. We offer courses in Combined Science (2 GCSEs equivalent) or Separate Sciences (Triple Science) with separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. For students for whom GCSE is a significant challenge we offer the AQA Entry Level Certificate as a supporting qualification.

Topics Studied (Combined Science):

  • Biology Paper 1 – cell biology, organisation, infection and response, bioenergetics
  • Biology Paper 2 – homeostasis, inheritance, variation and evolution, ecology
  • Chemistry Paper 1 – atomic structure and the periodic table, bonding, structure and the properties of matter, quantitative chemistry, chemical changes and energy changes
  • Chemistry Paper 2 – rate and extent of chemical change, organic chemistry, chemical analysis, chemistry of the atmosphere, using resources
  • Physics Paper 1 – energy, electricity, particle model of matter, atomic structure
  • Physics Paper 2 – forces, waves, magnetism and electromagnetism, space

Paper 1 topics are studied in Year 10 and paper 2 mainly in Year 11 although we will start this in Year 10 if time allows.

Students studying Triple Science study the same content as Combined Science but several topics will be studied in greater depth and there are also some additional topics not studied in the Combined Science.

Both courses include a number of required practicals (21 in Combined Science, 28 in Triple) which aim to develop the students’ ‘Working Scientifically’ skills such as planning a valid investigation, collecting data, presenting data and using data to develop conclusions and evaluating uncertainties and errors.

Assessment in Key Stage 4 

End of Topic Tests

Unit Tests

External Exams

Higher and Foundation tests available for each topic based on past exam questions

A paper 1 will be completed in Y10 at the end of each subject. Paper 2 will be completed in each subject towards the end of Y11

External GCSE exams will be sat in the Spring/Summer of Y11.

Each students sits 6 different papers. For Combined Science each is 75 min whilst for the Triple Science course each exam is 105 min

At GCSE, students are entered for either Higher or Foundation tier exams. The Higher papers open up grades 4 to 9 (44 to 99 for Combined Science) and contain more difficult questions. The Foundation tier opens up grades 1 to 5 (11 to 55 for Combined Science). The final decision on which tier to enter your child will be taken in February of Year 11 and will be based upon their attainment in all the assessments that they have undertaken up to that point. It will be taken in discussion with the students and parents.

Curriculum - KS5

Key Stage 5

We offer Biology, Physics and Chemistry A-levels (using the OCR exam board) and a BTEC level 3 course in Applied Science.  We also offer an extensive programme of extra-curricular activities including industry visits, external speakers and the opportunity for students to mentor younger students in science.

Biology A Level

Why study Biology A Level?

Taking A Level Biology will give you access to many degree courses and careers. It makes an excellent base for degrees in medicine, nursing, veterinary studies, biological sciences and biochemistry and can complement those in chemistry, sports science, psychology and sociology among others.

The course itself is split up into six modules, these are listed below:

  • Module 1: Development of practical skills in biology
  • Module 2: Foundations in biology
  • Module 3: Exchange and transport
  • Module 4: Biodiversity, evolution and disease
  • Module 5: Communication, homeostasis and energy
  • Module 6: Genetics, evolution and ecosystems

Full details of the content that is covered in each module can be found on the OCR website, the link to this can be found in the ‘Qualifications’ section.


Chemistry A Level

Why study Chemistry A Level?

A Level Chemistry allows you to develop your understanding of chemistry by delving deeper into the subject than at GCSE. Through your studies you'll form independent theories and areas of interest which you could take further at university in degrees such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Studies, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering etc. It also supports the study of related subjects such as Biology, Physics, Maths and Materials Engineering.

The course itself is split up into six modules, these are listed below:

·         Module 1: Development of practical skills in chemistry

·         Module 2: Foundations in chemistry

·         Module 3: Periodic table and energy

·         Module 4: Core organic chemistry

·         Module 5: Physical chemistry and transition elements

·         Module 6: Organic chemistry and analysis

Full details of the content that is covered in each module can be found on the OCR website, the link to this can be found in the ‘Qualifications’ section.


Physics A Level

Why study Physics A Level?

Studying A Level Physics will give you incredibly strong analytical and research skills. You will be able to come at problems and solve them in a methodical and logical way. You will be able to investigate theories, devise tests and explore new ideas. Such strong problem-solving skills are highly sought after, especially when applying to degrees in Maths, Physics, Computing and all types of Engineering.

The course itself is split up into six modules, these are listed below:

Module 1: Development of practical skills in physics

Module 2: Foundations in physics

Module 3: Forces and motion

Module 4: Electrons, waves and photons

Module 5: Newtonian world and astrophysics

Module 6: Particles and medical physics

Full details of the content that is covered in each module can be found on the OCR website, the link to this can be found in the ‘Qualifications’ section.


Assessment in Key Stage 5 (A-levels) 

End of Topic Tests

Practice Papers

External exams

Each module of content is made up of smaller teaching topics. At the end of each teaching topic students will sit an End of Topic test made up of past exam questions.


As we progress through the course we then include an additional synoptic section which includes questions on previously taught content to help improve our students long term retrieval.

Full size practice papers (examining content from several modules) will be completed:

-          At the end of Yr 12

-          In January of Y13

-          In late Spring of Y13

All three A-level courses are examined via three different exam papers that are completed in the external exam series at the end of Y13


BTEC Applied Science – Extended Certificate

Why study BTEC Applied Science?

The BTEC Extended Certificate in Applied Science is a two year course equivalent to one A Level. It covers aspects of Biology, Chemistry and Physics and emphasises the vocational nature of science with a focus on practical techniques, common themes across the three sciences and real-world applications of science. Students undertake work experience alongside the science technicians and take part in industry visits and careers talks.

Course Overview

Unit 1 - Principals and Applications of Science I

This unit covers some of the key science concepts in biology, chemistry and physics

Unit 2 - Practical Scientific Procedures and Techniques

Learners will be introduced to quantitative laboratory techniques, calibration, chromatography,

calorimetry and laboratory safety, which are relevant to the chemical and life science industries

Unit 3 - Science Investigation Skills

Learners will cover the stages involved and the skills needed in planning a scientific investigation:

how to record, interpret, draw scientific conclusions and evaluate.

Unit 8 - Physiology of Human Body Systems

Learners will focus on the physiological make up of three human body systems (musculoskeletal,

lymphatic and digestive), how the systems function and what occurs during dysfunction.


Assessment in Key Stage 5 (BTEC)



Practice papers

External Exams

Y12  Unit 2

Y13  Unit 8

Unit 1 & 3 practice papers will be completed

Y12 – Unit 1 

Y13 – Unit 3 external exam


Here is a list of the qualifications that we offer, as well as a link to the exam board website where you can find the specifications for each course. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Key Stage 4

AQA GCSE Combined Science (Trilogy) - Higher and Foundation tiers


AQA GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Biology together form the Triple Science course

Biology -

Chemistry -

Physics -


AQA Entry Level Certificate in Science


Key Stage 5

OCR A Level Biology

OCR A Level Chemistry

OCR A Level Physics

Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate in Applied Science

Wider Curriculum

The Science department offers a large number of enrichment activities at lunchtime or after school. These include:

  • STEM Club – project-based work with a view to entering national competitions such as Big Bang, TeenTech and Crest Awards (in conjunction with D&T)
  • Science Club – fun, hands-on lunchtime club for Years 7 and 8
  • Senior Science Society – Science Club for grown-ups! Year 10 and upwards
  • Poultry Club – Learn about how to look after the school’s chickens, watch the eggs hatch and help support the business selling eggs to raise money for the chickens’ food
  • Science Week takes place in March every year and we celebrate this with activities such as a Year 8 STEM fair
  • Trips (e.g. sixth form visits to STEM companies such as Recipharm and Astra Zeneca, Year 7 trip to Jodrell Bank)

1:1 Support

We offer lunchtime 1:1 Support for GCSE, Biology, Chemistry and Physics A Levels and BTEC at the same time every week. Ad hoc after school sessions are also arranged when needed. Form time intervention sessions are arranged for Year 11 students by invitation.

Useful Links




Five Ways to Help Your Child – KS3 and 4

  1. Test your child on some of the content that they have been studying – there are practice questions in the revision guides that we offer at KS3 and KS4. OR you could use one of the website links above or your child’s exercise book.
  2. Discuss Science in the news with your child. (This can be about any topic: Space, medicine, our health, food). The BBC Newsround website is great for this.
  3. Use the Science Museums website (Online science) for great games and current information.
  4. Have a go at some simple experiments at home. has some great ideas or look out for Steve Spangler on YouTube.
  5. Visit local attractions. The North West has some great science museums: Catalyst in Widnes, Techniquest at Wrexham University, Manchester’s Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) and Manchester Museum at the university, Jodrell bank, Chester Zoo and Trentham Monkey forest. You can even discuss physics and forces at Alton Towers!

Additional Ways to Help Your Child – KS5

  1. Encourage them to read around their subject using general science websites such as,, or
  2. Encourage them to complete the independent learning tasks set for each half term (these are a mix of exam questions and wider reading suggestions designed to enhance their broader appreciation of the role of science in the world today)
  3. Talk to them about their ideas for future career and support them in their UCAS / apprenticeship applications
  4. Help them get organised. Sixth form working requires more independence and self-management so they will need to organise their notes, manage their time and make the most of their independent study periods in College.