Science – Physics

Acting Head of Science Faculty and Physics Department: Mr Boutland-Smith
Head of Biology Department: Mr Dorney
Head of Chemistry Department: Mrs Cherrett
Key Stage 3 Coordinator: Mr P Dorney
Faculty Staff: Mr Boutland-Smith, Mr Burn, Mrs Kestell, Miss Newton, Miss Shepherd, Mr Thomas, Miss Eastman, Mr Hollis
Support Staff: Ms Taylor, Miss Morrison, Mr Spooner
Level of teaching: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 5

The study of Physics enables students to explore how things work from the very large to the incredibly small – the universe to the atom. The specification introduces students to some of the concepts and applications of physics from the use and transfer of energy, to insights into waves, radiation and space. Physics is a fascinating subject which engages learners at many levels, linking direct practical experience with scientific ideas. Experimentation and modelling are used to develop and evaluate explanations, encouraging critical and creative thought. Students learn how knowledge and understanding in Physics are rooted in evidence. They discover how scientific ideas contribute to technological change – affecting industry, business and medicine and improving quality of life. They trace the development of science worldwide and recognise its cultural significance. They learn to question and discuss issues that may affect their own lives, the directions of societies and the future of the world.

Key Stage 3 (Years 7-8)

In KS3 Science, we follow the AQA Activate Science Course. This involves learning about the ’10 Big Ideas’ science curriculum over a two year key stage. Each ‘Big Idea’ contains four smaller topics that build in complexity. Details are as follows:

Year 7

Part 1 – Taught in Year 7
Forces: Speed & Gravity
Electromagnets: Voltage and Resistance & Current
Energy: Energy costs & Energy transfer
Waves: Sound & Light
Matter: Particle model & Separating mixtures
Part 1 – Taught in Year 7
Reactions: Metals and non-metals & Acids and alkalis
Earth: Earth structure & Universe
Organisms: Movement & Cells
Ecosystems: Interdependence & Plant reproduction
Genes: Variation & Human reproduction


Year 8

Part 2 – Taught in Year 8
Forces: Contact forces & Pressure
Electromagnets: Electromagnets & Magnetism
Energy: Work & Heating and cooling
Waves: Wave effects & Wave properties
Matter: Periodic table & Elements
Part 2 – Taught in Year 8
Reactions: Chemical energy & Types of reaction
Earth: Climate & Earth resources
Organisms: Breathing & Digestion
Ecosystems: Respiration & Photosynthesis
Genes: Evolution & Inheritance


In KS3 Science, we rotate Biology, Chemistry and Physics topics through the year to complete all the outcomes within the ten big ideas topics. In Physics, there are four big ideas that build in complexity within our spiral curriculum: Forces, Electromagnets, Energy and Waves. Our schemes of work follow the AQA Activate Science course, which provide students with opportunities for regular practical work, and development of their numeracy and literacy skills within Science. The progress of students is tracked regularly with end of unit assessments for each big idea in both Y7 and Y8 and formal end of year exams.

Key Stage 4 (Years 9–11)

Course Code: GCSE Physics AQA 8463
Exam Board Specification:

All students are required to study GCSE Triple Science to gain three separate GCSE qualifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

GCSE Physics offers students the chance to gain a good understanding of:

  • The use and transfer of energy
  • Waves, radiation and space
  • The application of Physics

The specification is designed to give students the tools and concepts they need to be able to construct a scientific approach to solving problems. Students will learn to ask and answer questions about the fundamental laws that govern natural phenomena. This is done by integrating the ‘How Science Works’ approach throughout the specification. Students are likely to be engaged by the aspects of the specification that they can relate to their everyday life such as the efficiency of electrical appliances and braking distances as well as larger concepts like nuclear fission and fusion and evidence of the Big Bang. This course provides a firm foundation for progression to AS and A-level Physics.

GCSE Physics is examined by two 1hr 45min exams at the end of the course in Year 11. It also involves a practical endorsement which doesn’t contribute to the overall grade.

All of these exams are available at Foundation or Higher level.

Unit 1: Physics Paper 1 – Written paper 1hr 45mins – 100 marks worth 50%
Unit 2: Physics Paper 2 – Written paper 1hr 45mins – 100 marks worth 50%

Year 9 and Year 10

Students start GCSE Physics in Year 9 and have two lessons a fortnight. In Year 10, students will continue on the GCSE course with 4 lessons a fortnight on the following topics:

  1. Energy
  2. Electricity
  3. Particle model of matter
  4. Atomic structure

Year 11 

In Year 11, students continue on the GCSE course with four lessons a fortnight on the following topics:

  1. Forces
  2. Waves
  3. Magnetism and electromagnetism
  4. Space physics

Key Stage 5 (Years 12-13)

Course Code: A Level Physics OCR A H556
Exam Board Specification:

Recommended Entry Requirements

  • Grade 6 GCSE Physics or Grade 6-6 GCSE Combined or Triple Science
  • Grade 6 GCSE Mathematics
  • Students who have studied Combined Science must complete additional preparatory work over the summer holidays.

Why Physics?
This exciting course provides insights into how the universe works. You will build on concepts covered in GCSE but in more depth and how these are applied in everyday and technological settings.

The course embraces six modules:

  1. Development of practical skills
  2. Foundations of physics
  3. Forces and motion
  4. Electrons, waves and photons
  5. Newtonian world and astrophysics and
  6. Particles and medical physics.

A fascinating and complex area, ideally suited to anyone wanting to challenge themselves.


37% – Paper 1 – Modelling Physics
37% – Paper 2 – Exploring Physics
26% – Paper 3 – Unified Physics
Practical endorsement assessed during lessons (pass/fail)

Recommended Reading

A Level Physics A for OCR Student Book
OCR A Level Physics Student Guide: Practical Physics
OCR A Level Physics Revision Guide

Resources & Links:

Past papers and mark schemes can be downloaded from:

The Science Faculty website is now live and contains useful revision PowerPoint’s and web links: (Password: Science1)

Students also have access to the GCSE Science textbooks online using their usernames and passwords for Kerboodle: (Institution Code: ik1)

Students also have access to GCSE Science Resources on Educake and Seneca including revision notes and assessments using their usernames and passwords:


KS3 Science Club, National Science & Engineering Week enrichment activities, curriculum visits to Bristol Zoo, @Bristol, The Big Bang Fair, National Science Museum. A Level Biology Residential Ecology trip, DNA Workshop day trip and further enrichment opportunities.

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