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Faculty: STEM

“…the experiments are fun and I really want to do a dissection soon; …DNA’s good; …I enjoyed the theory behind photosynthesis; …I enjoy the pop quizzes”

Heathfield Girls

Aims & Philosophy

From the moment you are born, and throughout your life, you are surrounded by Science – the air you breathe, the food you eat and the clothes you wear – they’re all Science. Whether you want to care for penguin colonies in Antarctica or work in a dynamic business environment, Science can help you. From research in space, to the depths of the oceans, Science helps you understand the world around you and opens up lots of career opportunities. Science students are highly valued for their numerical, linguistic and analytical skills.


GCSE Science (AQA)

Every student at Heathfield School is required to take Science. Students start to cover the GCSE content in the Third Form allowing those more able to access three separate Science GCSEs.

All students in the top science set are entered for the three separate science GCSEs. This involves them taking all 3 written units for each of the sciences at the end of their 5th Form year.

Students not taking the three separate Sciences will take Combined Science which covers Biology, Chemistry and Physics through a series of six different written examinations each worth. Students then gain a numerical grade from a 17 point scale from 1-1 to 9-9.

For all of the Science GCSEs students will have to complete compulsory experiments and their practical skills and techniques will be examined in the written examinations.

All students irrelevant of which route they have followed are able to go onto study science at A level providing they attain sufficiently good grades at GCSE.


A Level (Edexcel – B)

Biology is a very flexible A Level and can be used in combination with both other sciences and humanity subjects such as Geography. There is a whole range of careers accessible from Biology including medicine, biomedical science and forensics. Advances in Biology have been spectacular in recent years. Research has cloned sheep, genetically engineered drugs such as insulin and wiped out smallpox. Biology is at the centre of issues that matter – should we allow human cloning? What do we think about research conducted on embryos? Does it make a difference eating genetically modified food? Is organic really better for you? Not a week goes past without Biology making the headlines in our newspapers.


Exam Layout

Students study a series of different topics over the two years including:

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Cells, viruses and reproduction of living things
  3. Classification and Biodiversity
  4. Exchange and Transport
  5. Energy for Biological processes
  6. Microbiology and Pathogens
  7. Modern Genetics
  8. Origins of Genetic Variation
  9. Control Systems
  10. Ecosystems

The course also includes a wide variety of practical work during which the students’ practical skills are assessed and go towards their final practical endorsement. This includes going on the annual field trip in the Lower VI.


Beyond the Classroom

Extracurricular science activities form an integral part of the Heathfield experience. A wide variety of different activities and learning experiences takes place outside of the classroom.

For one week each year we celebrate Science Week and activities are run each day during lunch. Activities have included an Interhouse rocket building and launching competition in Assembly, the creation of ice cream using liquid nitrogen, and chip pan fires singeing the ceiling.

Other events have included the annual Third Form CSI Heathfield forensics investigation which investigates a live ‘murder’. This year it was the Director of Studies, who dramatically collapsed during lunch.

As a department we enter a number of competitions each year including The Salters’ Chemistry Competition for four members of the Second Form; this takes place at one of the universities around the country and provides students with an insight into science in the workplace, and the Biology Challenge set by the Institute of Biology for 3rd and 4th Formers .

Other opportunities to use Science come about as part of the weekend activities such as trips to Science museums and the production of beauty products including as make-up and soap. Alternatively there is a Science Club with a variety of activities including the Chemistry of Fireworks and Rockets, Dissection and Robotics. Girls in Forms I-III are also encouraged to participate in the CREST Awards. They have to plan and carry out their own research and produce a written report of their findings. Topics covered last year included properties of different types of chocolate and finding the best formulation for a bath bomb.