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Science

Staff

StaffRole
Mr D WardHead of Sciences and Physics
Mr J PetersPhysics Teacher
Mr J BosséHead of Biology and Careers
Mrs R GrantChemistry and Biology Teacher
Ms B ShahChemistry Teacher
Mr P TileyHead of Chemistry
Miss E HollenderChemistry and Biology Teacher
Miss C TillBiology Teacher
Dr C MacTavishPhysics Teacher

 

Biology

Welcome to the Biology Department

"The capacity to blunder slightly is the real marvel of DNA. Without this special attribute, we would still be anaerobic bacteria and there would be no music." Lewis Thomas

Biology at FHS is all about taking ideas from everyday life, taking them further and making connections with other aspects of the living world. We are passionate about inspiring every pupil so that that they can share in the exhilaration of understanding the connections between ourselves and the living world around us.

The Biology department comprises two full-time members of staff and two part-time members of staff. Their enthusiasm and zeal for the subject help maintain high A Level numbers and a large proportion of girls studying A Level Biology go on to complete Biology-related degrees at university. The Biology teaching staff have a wide range of skills and expertise ranging from Biochemistry to Environmental Science. The variety of interests adds to the appeal of the subject for many girls.

CURRICULUM

Key Stage 3

In the Thirds and Lower Fourth, girls are taught Biology separately from the other two sciences, by subject specialist teachers. Each pupil will receive one double Biology lesson per week, and we follow the ISEB Common Entrance Examination. The emphasis is on building a foundation of knowledge and understanding, whilst developing the necessary skills to become an outstanding scientist.

GCSE

From the Upper Fourth, girls study the Edexcel IGCSE and girls are expected to complete the Triple Award. The Upper Fourth year is split into 4 teaching groups to allow for more specialised and effective teaching, and each class receives one double Biology lesson per week. In the Lower Fifth and Upper Fifth, the year group is divided into 4 groups, with each class receiving one double and one single lesson each week. The Upper Fourth begins with an introduction to key biological concepts which can then be applied in greater detail throughout the rest of the IGCSE course. Areas covered include both animal and plant biology, as well as biochemistry and micro-biology.

A Level

Girls study the OCR A Level course at FHS. Biology is a linear A Level, which means there is no formal coursework. There are also no external examinations in the Lower Sixth year. This means that there is more time for learning and assimilating material. Biology A Level is highly synoptic, which means that students are required to make and understand links between everything they learn. This makes the A Level particularly challenging, but also deeply satisfying as understanding is achieved at a deep and elemental level. A Level Biology is one of the most popular subjects with almost half the year choosing it at A Level. Each year a large percentage of pupils go on to study Biology-related courses at university including Biological Sciences, Human Sciences, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Anthropology, Neuroscience, Biomedical Science and Sports Science.

BEYOND THE CURRICULUM

The Biology Department runs a range of extra-curricular clubs and activities. Green Fingers club makes the most of the school’s greenhouse, while MedSoc helps prepare older students for application to Medical, Dentistry and Veterinary Schools. Dissection Club also runs on an ad hoc basis, and allows pupils to extend their learning beyond the confines of exam specifications.

Every year we take a group of girls to enjoy a day at an organic farm outside of London, and IGCSE and A Level students further their learning outside of the classroom at the GCSE Science and A Level Biology Live! Lecture days.

Chemistry

Welcome to the Chemistry department

Francis Holland has a dynamic and thriving Chemistry department. Staffed by three passionate teachers each with a further degree in their own area, every student is taught by a subject specialist, from the Thirds through to the Sixth Form. 

Mr Paul Tiley – Head of Chemistry

Miss Emma Hollender – Chemistry and Biology

Miss Binny Shah – Chemistry

 

BEYOND THE CURRICULUM

As well as delivering lessons with excitement, an element of challenge and a wealth of hands-on opportunities, we also offer a diverse range of extra-curricular activities, events and clubs to complement learning.

Junior Science Club meets every week; primarily run by enthusiastic Sixth Form chemists, this club allows for experimentation and demonstration in a broader range of the scientific field, from Engineering to Forensic Science.

The Salters’ Chemistry Festival provides an opportunity for four Lower Fourth students to take part in an investigative competition against other schools, using the laboratories at University College London.

The Lower Fourth Science Fair requires all students to work in pairs to investigate a new and innovative area of Science. Taking place after the Summer examinations, the students spend their time carrying out independent research into an area of their choice, and then present their findings to the rest of the school. After the heats, the main evening event invites parents, staff and students to see the best presentations judged by a professional scientist, often from a local university.

We regularly attend the GCSE Science Live! event, hosted in London, giving students in the Upper Fifth a chance to hear lectures from world leaders in science, such as Professor Andrea Sella and Dr Ben Goldacre. Students also receive invaluable advice for examinations from the examiners themselves.

Girls in the upper years are encouraged to take part in University College London’s Lecture Series. These lectures, which take place on a weekly basis and are just a short walk from our school site, are diverse and varied, with recent topics including the Chemistry of the Periodic Table and the Hidden World of the Atom.

Sixth Form chemists are given the option to take part in the Chemistry Olympiad, run by the Royal Society of Chemistry, and the University of Cambridge Lower Sixth Chemistry Challenge. Both of these written papers pose demanding questions, giving students a flavour of Chemistry at a more advanced level and extending their thinking beyond the confines of the A level course.

Chemistry Journal Club, for Lower Fifth to Upper Sixth students, meets weekly to discuss Chemistry articles and papers of mutual interest. These have included the use and misuse of chemicals such as painkillers and chlorine gas, the pros and cons of waste disposal in space and the possibility of using cryogenics to preserve and extend life. Once more, the aim is to challenge students to think above and beyond the school based curriculum.

CURRICULUM

Outstanding lessons in Chemistry are delivered from the outset with the Thirds, and all students will study the subject at IGCSE level. The use of IT is common in lessons, and students can find more information and work to support their learning in class using the Chemistry pages on the network and on Firefly, the school’s Virtual Learning Environment.

We are proud of our uptake at A Level, and the number of students choosing to study Chemistry in the Sixth Form has shown an increasing trend over the last few years.

As public examinations approach, all members of staff in the department provide revision clinics outside of the usual timetable, and are always available to arrange smaller study sessions should a student wish to discuss their work in more detail.

 

KEY STAGE 3

The Independent Schools Examinations Board (ISEB) syllabus for Common Entrance at 13+ is followed.

IIIrds

1 double lesson a week

After an introductory unit which includes graph-drawing skills, naming and drawing apparatus, and reading scales, a range of practical experiments and demonstrations bring theoretical science to life. Students study the structures and properties of solids, liquids, and gases, and how they change state, followed by the nature of elements and compunds. They start to consider what makes a reaction, and their technical skills are developed further through the writing of word equations for the reactions they carry out. Later they look at acids and alkalis and neutralisation  before familiarising themselves with the pH scaleand indicators. In the Summer Term the course focuses on burning and combustion, . The course then considers whilst after the Summer examination students plan and carry out their own investigations on the factors affecting the dissolving of sugar in water. 

LIV

1 double lesson a week

Consisting of five units, this course provides a firm foundation in the fundamental principles of Chemistry allowing for the development of more demanding concepts in the future. The first unit looks at pure substances and mixtures; the second covers physical and chemical changes; the third is a more detailed study of acids/neutralisation, whilst in the fourth students consider the reactivity of metals and how this determines the method of extraction. Finally the fifth unit is . Environmental Chemistry, including pollution and the Greenhouse Effect and possible solutions to climate change, thus providing the opportunity for debate and questioning of this controversial and topical issue. After the Summer examination, students take part in the Science Fair, details of which are given above.

IGCSE

UIV - 1 double lesson a week                     LV and UV – 1 double and 1 single lesson a week

The Edexcel IGCSE Chemistry course is taught over three years, beginning in the Upper Fourth. The course is assessed via two papers at the end of the Upper Fifth, with questions on both theory and experimental techniques. At Francis Holland, the Chemistry department ensures that each student is prepared for these examinations in terms of depth of knowledge and experience of practical work.

The following topics are covered across the three years:

UIV  - states of matter; elements, compounds and mixtures; atomic structure; The Periodic Table; chemical formulae and equations; reactivity series;; extraction and uses of iron; ionic bonding; covalent bonding; metallic bonding; structures; rates of reaction; 
 

LV – acids, alkalis and titrations; acids, bases and salt preparations; calculations; elements inGroups 1 and 7; redox reactions; electrolysis; extraction and uses of aluminium; chemical tests 
 

UV – oxygen and oxides; hydrogen and water; crude oil; Organic Chemistry; energetics; equilibria; the industrial manufacture of chemicals Further details of the course can be found on the Edexcel website.

A Level

4 double lessons a week

We follow the AQA A Level in the Lower and Upper Sixth. The course is assessed via three papers at the end of the two years which test students on their knowledge and understanding of the theoretical concepts taught as well as the practical techniques required for the experimental aspect of the programme. This consists of twelve experiments which must be carried out and understood in detail. Students formally write up and record their results in laboratory books as they would if they were following a science course at undergraduate level. The Practical Endorsement is recorded separately to the A level grade on the final certificate.

The course is broken down into three areas; Organic, Inorganic and Physical Chemistry.

The following topics are covered across the two years:

  • Organic – Alkanes; Halogenoalkanes; Alkenes; Alcohols; Aldehydes and Ketones; Aromatic Chemistry; Amines; Carboxylic Acids and derivatives; Polymers; Isomerism; Amino Acids, Proteins and DNA; Organic Analysis; Organic Synthesis
     
  • Inorganic – Periodicity; Group II – The Alkaline Earth Metals; Group VII – The Halogens; Properties of Period 3 elements and their oxides; Transition Metals; Reactions of Ions in Aqueous Solution
     
  • Physical – Atomic Structure; Amount of Substance (The Mole); Bonding; Energetics and Thermodynamics; Kinetics and Rate Equations; Equilibria; Redox; Electrode Potentials; Acids and Bases

 

Further details of the course can be found on the AQA website.

THE FUTURE

Chemistry is a well-respected and intellectually demanding A Level.

Studying Chemistry makes life a little less mysterious - it means you get to know and understand why and how things react and change. Pharmaceuticals, food production, materials, climate change, energy supplies, forensics, cosmetics, technology, clothing……Chemistry is everywhere!

Chemistry A Level is an essential requirement for anyone who wants to study Medicine, Veterinary Science/Medicine or Dentistry. Chemistry is also useful for those wanting to study anything science-related at university – Biochemistry, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Pharmacology, Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Natural Sciences…

The skills of analysis, logic, reasoning and evaluation gained from studying Chemistry are very transferable to almost any career….which explains why it is such a highly regarded academic discipline and why it can lead to so many exciting and varied opportunities.

 

Physics

Welcome to the Physics department

“I think physicists are the Peter Pans of the human race. They never grow up and they keep their curiosity.” Isidor Isaac Rabi

Physics at FHS for your daughter is stimulating, interactive, practical yet also philosophical. Physics is at the heart of everything and is a highly rewarding discipline to study at school, university and beyond. Physics explores questions like how did the universe begin? How will it end? What is a black hole? Is time travel possible? If you have an enquiring mind, always asking why things happen, then physics will help you find the answers. It forms the basis of most modern technologies and holds the future to global well being.

Staff

There are two full time and one part time member of staff in the Physics Department. 

Mr D. Ward B.Sc. MA is the Head of Department and Mr J. Peters B.Sc. are both full time and Dr C. MacTavish currently teaches Physics on a part time basis. All are members of the Institute of Physics.

Their areas of expertise include physics and philosophy, astronomy, electronics, robotics, medical physics and nuclear medicine.

Dr C. MacTavish has recently decided to enter the teaching profession following a distinguished career as a University Lecturer of Physics and Mr. D. Ward has been an examiner at A' level for Edexcel for over 20 years. The Physics staff are renowned for bring boundless energy to their teaching and are committed to making Physics an enjoyable, interactive and rewarding experience for all.

 

Curriculum

Key Stage 3

The first two years are focused on introducing physics concepts through experiments, discussions and the textbooks.  These are supplemented with an interactive CD of the course. Your daughters will study classic physics topics but with an emphasis on how these concepts affect their everyday life. These include electrical circuits, energy and sustainable living, forces and their effects, the solar system, heat transfers, light, sound and hearing.

IGCSE

The  Edexcel IGCSE course is covered over three years and it is hoped that all girls will take IGCSE Physics. The final examination consists of three papers and covers all aspects of theoretical and practical Physics. Students are encouraged to attend exciting and regular lectures at UCL (Gower Street) and the Institute of Physics (Portland Place).

A Level

The A Level Edexcel course is examined with three written papers. There are a large number of practicals but a set of 16 core practicals are assessed throughout the course and this leads to an A Level Certificate of Practical Competency in Physics. The Physics A level course incorporates an understanding of the world around us, the world inside us, and the world beyond us. It is the most basic and fundamental science.  Physics challenges our imaginations with concepts like relativity and string theory, and it leads to great discoveries, like computers and lasers, that change our lives. Physics encompasses the study of the universe from the largest galaxies to the smallest subatomic particles.  Mr D Ward has worked as an examiner for Edexcel for the past twenty years.

Why study Physics?

The career opportunities available are as vast as the subject itself due in part, to the transferable skills gained whilst studying physics. It is these transferable skills that make the difference between an employee who is merely satisfactory and one who will significantly improve the performance of the organisation concerned. Employers see a physics qualification as an indication of someone who will immediately be an asset to the organisation. This is because physics requires the following attributes:

  • A logical and numerate mind
  • The ability to solve problems
  • Communication skills, developed through report-writing and presentations
  • Computing and practical skills
  • Teamwork and flexibility (essential for lab work and projects)

So - Physics is interesting, relevant, and it can prepare you for great jobs in a wide variety of places.

Over half of all physicists work in Research and Development, Engineering, and Information Technology. Some physicists work on problems at the frontiers of knowledge; others tackle the challenging problems which arise in the application of physics to industrial and engineering problems.

If you want to be well paid, a physics degree can help you get a job in finance, telecommunications or the electrical industry. According to a survey of Institute of Physics members, these sectors have an average starting salary of about £40K. Physicists also work in medicine, astronomy, meteorology and teaching. The following chart shows a list of typical sectors where physicists are found.

Beyond the curriculum

The Physics staff run a variety of extra curricular clubs and are due to take a team of 16 Physicists to compete in the NASA Space Challenge in Houston in February 2018. 

Physics enhancement is run by Dr C. MacTavish and this is club prepares Year 11-13 students for the Physics Olympiad examinations and the Oxford/Cambridge Physics entrance examinations. In addition to this, scratch programming in Python is taught to assist with Physics data logging and practical skills. 

Mr D Ward runs and electronics and robotics club and Mr J Peters is in charge of the astronomy club. The Physics department recently won a telescope in a National Physics competition. 

A medical society is run by Mr Ward for students interested in pursuing a career in either Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Science. Students cover up to date medical issues, ethics and are helped to prepare for the BMAT and UKCAT examinations. 

Science is a great game. It is inspiring and refreshing. The playing field is the Universe itself

Isidor Isaac Rabi (1898-1988) U.S. physicist and Nobel prize 1944.

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