Chemistry at Sir Thomas Rich's

"I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale."
- Marie Curie
"Chemistry is necessarily an experimental science: its conclusions are drawn from data, and its principles supported by evidence from facts."
- Michael Faraday

Chemistry at Rich’s aims to provide students with the foundations for understanding the material world, and to develop within them a sense of excitement and curiosity about chemical phenomena. We aim to explore the way materials behave in a way that stimulates intellectual thinking, providing increasingly more detailed explanations for the way chemicals behave and react. The curriculum aims to develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of chemistry and how they relate together, as well as key practical skills. Students then have the skills, expertise and confidence to apply this knowledge and understanding to unfamiliar situations. Students learn how chemistry affects society in many and various ways. These range from learning about the background to groundbreaking historical discoveries, to key aspects of industrial chemistry and their impact on society and the environment. The development of practical skills is fundamental to becoming a good chemist and is an integral part of the curriculum. Practical experiments help develop students’ problem-solving skills and curiosity through planning, analysing and evaluating. Laboratory practical skills are developed through the Key Stages using a series of carefully planned and sequenced chemistry practical experiments. These not only develop key techniques and skills but also promote enjoyment and curiosity alongside an understanding of how chemicals react. Experiments and other activities are often carried out in groups to encourage collaborative learning. Chemistry topics respect students’ intellectual development stages and are sequenced to ensure the concepts are taught so that students are able to make links between topics and build on earlier understanding.

Head of Department:

Key Stage 3 - Years 8 & 9

Teaching Arrangements: Pupils have one period a week.
Homework Guidance: Homework set could include practice questions on a topic, writing up practicals, research on a topic and designing practical experiments.
Assessment Arrangements: Formal assessments are made at the end of each topic through tests. Practicals which are levelled assessed tasks may also be completed.
Topics Covered:
Year 8
  • Re-cap of states of matter
  • Combustion of fuels
  • The Periodic Table
  • Acids and bases
  • Earth sciences
  • Rocks and rock cycle
Year 9
  • Separation of mixtures
  • Atomic structure
  • Analysis and gases
  • The reactivity series
  • The Earth's resources
  • Chemistry of the atmosphere

In Year 8 students build on the skills and knowledge learnt in Year 7 Science and cover a broad range of topics giving a good foundation for the work covered at a higher level. The frequent use of practicals, demonstrations and examples contribute to developing enjoyment and interest in the subject. Key topics are introduced such as acids that are revisited at a greater depth. Year 9 concentrates on key concepts that underpin later ones. The AQA GCSE is started but not taught in unit order, so the main ideas are carefully sequenced. Atomic theory is introduced and the correct writing of formulas. Other aspects involving metals, gases and ion tests then the environment are also revised later in the course to reinforce their importance.

Teaching Arrangements: In Year 10 Pupils have 4 periods a week and this increases to 5 periods a week in Year 11.
Homework Guidance: Homework set could include practice questions on a topic, writing up practicals, research on a topic, designing practical experiments and completing past examination papers.
Assessment Arrangements: At the end of Year 11, two papers of 1 hour and 45 minutes are taken. Each paper assesses 5 different topics and comprises of multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response questions. There are no assessed practicals but we have 8 key practicals that need to be undertaken.
Exam Specification: AQA Linear GCSE Chemistry (9-1) Course Topics Covered:
Year 10
  • Revision of key concepts in Year 9, including atomic structure and writing formulae
  • Periodic Table, Group 1, Group 7, Group 0 and transition metals
  • Structure and bonding including nano-particles
  • Acid, bases and salts
  • Rates of reaction
  • Organic chemistry
  • Analytical chemistry – ions and gas tests
Year 11
  • Quantitative chemistry
  • Extraction of metals and redox
  • Electrolysis
  • Chemical cells and fuel cells
  • Reversible reactions and dynamic equilibrium
  • Analytical chemistry

Years 10 and 11 cover the AQA Chemistry specification. Students are challenged through the pace, content and application of knowledge questions. GCSE study in chemistry provides the foundations for understanding the material world. Chemistry is studied in ways that help students to develop curiosity about the natural world, insight into how science works, and appreciation of its relevance to their everyday lives. The scope and nature of such study is broad, coherent, practical and satisfying, and thereby encourages students to be inspired, motivated and challenged by the subject and its achievements. The course is carefully sequenced so that one concept follows another rather than just being taught in topic number. The Periodic Table is taught first followed by bonding, rates, acids and organic chemistry in year 10. Year 11 is begun by looking at all aspects of quantitative chemistry, then equilibria followed by energy, electrolysis and redox.

Entry Requirements: A GCSE Grade 7 in Chemistry is required (Grade 8 recommended) to study this course, or 7,7 Double Award Science.
Teaching Arrangements: Pupils have 9 periods in Year 12 and 10 periods in Year 13, split between two teachers.
Homework Guidance: Homework is set each week, following departmental policy. We also expect pupils to reinforce their learning by reading around the subject out of lessons.
Assessment Arrangements: There are no assessed practicals but practical skills covered in Module 1 are a key component of the course. You will achieve a pass/fail in practical skills as well as your A Level grade. The practical skills achieved throughout the course will be assessed within the written examinations.
At the end of Year 13 you will take 3 papers, comprising of multiple choice, structured questions and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills:
1. Periodic table, elements and Physical Chemistry (2hrs15; 100 marks) – Assessing modules 1, 2, 3 and 5.
2. Synthesis and analytical techniques (2hrs15; 100 marks) – Assessing modules 1, 2, 4 and 6.
3. Unified Chemistry (1hr30; 70 marks) – Assessing modules 1-6.
Exam Specification: OCR Chemistry A Level Topics Covered:
Year 12
  • Module 1: Development of Practical Skills
  • Module 2: Foundations in Chemistry
    • Atoms, compounds, molecules and equations
    • Amount of substance
    • Acid-base and redox reactions
    • Electrons, bonding and structure
  • Module 3: Periodic Table and Energy
    • Periodic Table and periodicity
    • Group 2 and halogens
    • Qualitative analysis
    • Enthalpy changes
    • Reaction rates and equilibrium (qualitative)
  • Module 4: Core Organic Chemistry
    • Basic concepts; hydrocarbons
    • Alcohols and haloalkanes
    • Organic synthesis
    • Analytical techniques (IR and MS)
Year 13
  • Module 5: Physical Chemistry and Transition Elements
    • Reaction rates and equilibrium (quantitative)
    • pH and buffers
    • Enthalpy, entropy and free energy
    • Redox and electrode potentials
    • Transition elements
  • Module 6: Organic Chemistry and Analysis
    • Aromatic compounds
    • Carbonyl compounds
    • Carboxylic acids and derivatives
    • Nitrogen compounds (amines, amino acids and amides)
    • Polymers
    • Organic synthesis
    • Chromatography and NMR

Year 12 is taught between two teachers who introduce foundational material between them, namely one teacher quantitative chemistry, acids and redox the other atomic structure and bonding. The topics are then split into some parts of the Periodic Table each before one teacher teaches organic chemistry and the other largely physical chemistry. The A2 course is begun at the end of Year 12. Year 13 is then largely divided into one teacher teaching organic chemistry and the other inorganic and physical chemistry. Topics are carefully sequenced for teaching and learning but also so the PAG tasks to be delivered successfully. In both Year 12 and Year 13, students are given a practical book in which they write reports of all the practical work they have done. This is to emphasise the importance not just of the PAGs but the other experimental work. It also enables students to keep a record of the skills they are accumulating and emphasises the necessity of a laboratory book for a chemistry-based university course. Students are encouraged to develop their intellectual curiosity and problem-solving skills through stretch and challenge questions in lessons. All pupils are given the opportunity to sit the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge and Olympiad.

University courses this subject may be required for or lead onto:
  • Chemistry
  • Biochemistry
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary Science
  • Forensic Science
Careers that Chemistry may lead onto:
  • Research and development
  • Forensics
  • Medical careers
  • Teaching
  • Accountancy
  • Law
  • Chemical engineering
  • Environmental careers
Associated Clubs / Societies / Trips:

We run a trip to the University of Bristol for Organic Chemistry in Year 12/13.
We also participate in two theory and lab-based competitions run by the Royal Society of Chemistry: Top of the Bench (with two Year 9s, one Year 10 and one Year 11) and RSC Analytical Chemistry Competition for four Year 12s.