A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

KS3 to KS4 Case study Gosford Hill School

Case study by Helen Reynolds, Gosford Hill School

Gosford Hill School

Gosford Hill School is an 11–18 comprehensive school serving Kidlington (a large village just north of Oxford) and surrounding villages. We have specialist status in Maths and Computing. There are approximately 1200 students, with 250 in the sixth form. 60% of students attained A* to C at GCSE in 2008.

Previous KS3 science

Our previous KS3 course was based on the QCA scheme of work; we adapted this to include our own project work.

What we're doing now at KS3

We have written our own scheme of work based on 6 themes: Identity, Creation, Communication, Blue Planet, ‘Sell, Sell, Sell’, and Dreams of the future.

We started with the Key Concepts and Key Processes (ideas about science) and devised a ‘story-line’ through each of the themes.

Scheme of work: Communication
The Communication theme is divided into three stories: the story of ‘The model of our Solar System’, ‘The Periodic Table’ and ‘The circulatory system’. The Solar System story starts with pre-history and encompasses astronomy as practiced practised in Egypt, the Middle East, China and Greece, returning in the final lesson to Galileo. Running through each theme is what we have come to describe as ‘the Big Idea’.

Astronomy: example activity

Phases of the Moon

Astronomy is a purely observational science. In the first lesson of the story of 'The model of our Solar System', students are asked to think about the sense that people made of what they saw in the sky. The aim of the activity is to start encourage students thinking to think about the role of the imagination in the development of scientific explanation.

The worksheet and teachers notes, including web-links, can be downloaded here:

>>Download worksheet: What do I see when I look up in the sky? (359 KB)
>>Download teachers notes: What do I see when I look up in at the sky? (100 KB)

Theme: Communication

Identity is sub-divided into ‘Me’, ‘Us’ and ‘Them’.

‘Me’ is about modelling the systems of the human body (what makes a good model), and about scale (body, system, organ, tissue, cells, nucleus, DNA, molecules, atoms, nucleus).

‘Us’ is about data collection – how are we different, and how can we describe and communicate that variation. We spend 6 hours on producing graphs of variation with the emphasis on understanding why we have the conventions we do about graph plotting.

‘Them’ is about evidence explored through forensic science. Within this topic we look at separation techniques, extracting DNA, and chemical analysis.
Future plans

We are developing our Year 8 scheme of work in the same way and are looking for different contexts in which to develop understanding of the Key Concepts and Key Processes.

Year 8 contexts will use the science that they have learnt in Year 7, such as looking at life style and disease. This uses ideas about the circulatory system, but this time the Big Idea is about risk and benefit.

From September 2009 we will adopt a two-year KS3 and three-year KS4 curriculum model.