Physics at Sir Thomas Rich's

"Not only is the universe stranger than we think, it is stranger than we can think."
- Werner Heisenberg

Physics is the fundamental science that attempts to understand the way in which the universe operates. It does this by constructing laws and models to fit our observations. As time passes our observations become more accurate and greater in range. Physicists therefore must be willing to modify their ideas based upon new evidence. Physics allows us to make predictions about our world and offers us an understanding of the underlying principles upon which it is based. The skills that studying Physics develops, such as logical thinking, numeracy, problem-solving, team-working and precise communication are in high demand in almost all areas of modern life. At Sir Thomas Rich’s we are dedicated to developing these skills in our students to help them thrive and flourish in a world where they are likely to change careers multiple times.


Key Stage 3 - Years 8 & 9

Teaching Arrangements: 2 periods per week.
Homework Guidance: 1 homework a week.
Assessment Arrangements: Regular topic tests.
Year 8 examinations in March.
Year 9 examinations in June.
Topics Covered:
Year 8
  • Seeing and hearing
  • Electricity
  • Motion and forces
  • Astronomy
  • Energy
  • Matter
Year 9
  • Waves
  • Magnetism
  • Energy stores and transfer
  • Heat transfer
  • Motion
  • Static electricity
  • Particle model, density and pressure

In Year 8 students cover and expand significantly on the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum. Year 9 focuses largely on starting the GCSE course, laying the foundations for further study in Key Stage 4.

Teaching Arrangements: 4 periods a fortnight in Year 10 and 5 periods a fortnight in Year 11.
Homework Guidance: 2 homeworks a week. Tasks are varied and include accessing Isaac Physics and Grade Gorilla online activities.
Assessment Arrangements: Regular topic tests to check progress. A mock examination in November of Year 11 and two examination papers sat at the end of Year 11.
Exam Specification: Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9-1) in Physics Topics Covered:
Year 10
  • Electricity
  • Forces
  • Energy resources
  • Astronomy
  • Waves and light
  • Domestic electricity
  • Energy and work
  • Radioactivity
Year 11
  • Momentum
  • Uses of radioactivity
  • Electromagnetism
  • Springs and fluids
  • Energy and temperature
  • Electromagnetic induction
  • Moments and gears
  • Waves

GCSE Physics is a popular choice with students, who have been well prepared for study at a higher level in Year 9. Teachers in the Physics Department have expert subject knowledge, and inspire their students by developing intellectual curiosity and fostering creative enquiry. The Department follows the Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9 - 1) in Physics (Code 1PH0).

Entry Requirements: Entry requirements are as laid out in the School Sixth Form Prospectus. In order to study physics at A Level, at least a Grade 7 at Physics GCSE, or 7,7 in Dual Award Science, is expected. Physics at A Level is a mathematical subject and studying A Level Mathematics alongside Physics is a popular combination, as studying A Level Physics without A Level Mathematics limits the university options open to students.
Teaching Arrangements: Year 12: 9 periods a fortnight, split 5 + 4 with two different teachers. Year 13: 10 periods a fortnight, split 5 + 5 with 2 different teachers.
Homework Guidance: Homework is set as necessary.
Assessment Arrangements: Regular topic tests. Internal examinations twice in Year 12 and a mock examination in the Spring Term of Year 13. Examinations sat at the end of Year 13, 3 papers of 2 hours duration. Practical work is carried out leading to a competency, recorded as Pass on the examination certificate.
Exam Specification: AQA A Level Physics 7408 Topics Covered:
Year 12
  • Particles and radiation
  • Waves
  • Mechanics and materials
  • Electricity
  • Gravitational fields
  • Quantum physics
  • Thermal physics and ideal gases
Year 13
  • Kinetic theory
  • Circular motion and SHM
  • Radioactivity
  • Capacitance
  • Orbital motion
  • Electric fields
  • Magnetic fields
  • Option topic chosen to fit with the interests of the class from astrophysics, medical physics, engineering physics and turning points in physics

Physics is a popular choice at A Level and attracts students to the Sixth Form from other schools. There are at present over 100 A Level students in six sets (three in Year 12 and three in Year 13). A number of students go on to read Physics at university from each cohort. Destinations have included Oxford and Cambridge in recent years, with students reading Physics and other related subjects such as Engineering and Natural Sciences. The majority of our students go on to study at Russell Group universities.

University courses this subject may be required for or lead onto: Physics or Engineering courses are popular options, but Physics A Level can support many other degrees such as Medicine, Architecture, Finance and Accountancy, Environmental Sciences, Computer Sciences, Materials Science, Mathematics and Economics.
Careers that Physics may lead onto: Physics graduates are amongst the most employable of graduates, and consequently suffer low rates of unemployment and typically achieve higher rates of pay. Physics is a ubiquitous subject and can lead to a wealth of career opportunities in the worlds of science and engineering as well as in finance and business. Graduates are highly prized for their analytical and mathematical skills.

“Physics at Rich’s can be summarised simply: brilliant teachers who encourage and inspire beyond what you would expect. Their enthusiasm and knowledge have taken me to a different level. If you study Physics here you may, like me, end up applying to read the subject at university.” Former student

Clinics to help students who have missed work or who are struggling are a regular feature, and the Department also runs extension clinics to help prepare students for University STEM applications and entry to national competitions. The Department regularly enter students for the various Physics Olympiad competitions throughout Key Stages 4 and 5. Interest has mushroomed in recent years and 2021 has seen record numbers of gold and silver awards attained by Rich's students.