The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible
At Hitchin Girls’ School, we believe that young people have an inherent interest in how the world works, and actively care about issues that affect the world and themselves. We want to encourage this Scientific curiosity, and help students develop the knowledge and skills required to answer the questions they have about the natural world and scientific phenomena. We strive to ensure that every student leaves our school having reached their potential, as well as with a broad and balanced understanding of Science for further study and life.
There are 13 teaching staff in the department, and all staff teach across KS3. Staff tend to specialise in KS4 and KS5 in one or two subject areas. Science teaching involves a wide range of styles. It is heavily based on practical work, but also involves discussion, group work and investigation.
We have a purpose-built block with eleven laboratories. All laboratories are well equipped with data projectors/desktops and appropriate scientific apparatus for experiments. There are five technicians that support teaching staff with the delivery of practical work.
Homework is set on a regular basis in line with the school Homework Policy. In Year 7, students receive two 30-minute slots of homework. This may involve written work, reading or research. Students use an online homework platform called Educake, which is also an additional tool to consolidate their knowledge.
Grouping in Science is usually decided on a year-by-year basis, with results of end-of- module tests and end-of-year exams determining the setting of each student.
In previous years, the following extracurricular activities have been offered by the Science Department:
Biology Society - a lunchtime club run by Year 12 Biology students and teachers enabling Year 7 students to undertake lots of fun biology-based activities and practicals.
Science Club - a lunchtime club run by Year 12 Science students and teachers, for Year 7 and 8 students who enjoy doing practicals and investigations.
Trips and Events (recent events have included the following)
Years 7 and 8 Science Fair at HGS
Year 10 Science trip to GCSE Science Live! in Cambridge
Year 12 Chemistry trip to Chemistry Live! in London
Year 9 trip to the Big Bang Fair in St Albans
Year 10 trip to Aston Martin Factory in Warwickshire
Year 12 trip to GSK in Stevenage
Year 9 trip to MBDA in Stevenage
Year 12 trip to Roche Pharmaceuticals in Welwyn
During Years 12 and 13, students are given the opportunity to take part in an international conservation expedition. In the past, we visited Mozambique, South Africa, Indonesia, Dominica, Tanzania, Malawi and Honduras.
Biology A Level students are given priority for places but all of Years 12 and 13 are invited to apply. On the expedition, we spend one week in a terrestrial environment such as a rain or cloud forest, and we spend the second week on marine conservation, where students learn to dive and can obtain a PADI open water qualification. In addition, students attend lectures and workshops with biologists who are world experts in their field.
These expeditions are offered every two years so all students have the opportunity to apply. The planning takes place up to two years in advance so that they have time to fundraise. Students find this an inspiring experience and sometimes it is life-changing, as many go on to use their skills to enhance UCAS applications and pursue related careers.
Key Stage 3
The aims and rationale of the Science curriculum in Years 7- 8 are:
To make students’ experience of Science at HGS inspiring, interesting and challenging whilst providing the solid grounding in skills and content needed for KS4.
- To inspire our students – we aim to harness the excitement that primary students generally have about Science at secondary school and to build on it.
- To provide a broad curriculum that gives a good grounding of science over a range of topics.
- To develop practical skills - using a PAG-style approach similar to GCSE that allows students to work scientifically and work on their practical skills.
- The development of mathematical and scientific skills taking into account the Maths curriculum that students will have already covered.
In Year 9 all students begin work on GCSE content.
Key Stage 4
Students at this level can either take all three Sciences giving three GCSEs (Triple Science), or spend less time studying each Science for a Combined Science qualification, which is worth two GCSEs. This decision is taken in Year 9 as part of the Options process, with Triple Science GCSE an option for students able to work at Level 6 or higher. Each student is given the relevant CGP revision guide at the beginning of Year 10.
We currently follow the OCR Gateway Science suite of courses.
GCSE Physics Site (school login required):
Key Stage 5
We offer A Levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics, which all follow the OCR A specifications.
A Level Chemistry Site (a school login is required):
Curriculum map for Years 12 & 13 Biology
Curriculum map for Years 12 & 13 Chemistry
Curriculum map for Years 12 & 13 Physics
Meet the team
Charles Horner - Head of Science / Chemistry
Kim Pearce - Head of Biology / KS3 Lead
Andrew Derrett - Head of Physics / Transition Lead / RPS
Emma Taylor - Head of Year 13 / Science Teacher (Chemistry at KS5)
Wai Li - Science Teacher (Chemistry at KS5)
Maria Dixon - Science Teacher (Biology at KS5)
Kate Arnott - Science Teacher (Biology at KS5)
James Buckridge - Science Teacher (Biology at KS5)
Steve Bishop - Science Teacher (Chemistry at KS5)
Andrew Jackson - Science Teacher (Physics at KS5)
Susan Andrews - Science Teacher (Biology at KS5)
Eleanor Reed - Science Teacher (Physics at KS5)
Andrew Walter - Science Teacher (Chemistry at KS5)
Shaheen Khan - Science Teacher (Chemistry at KS5, Maternity Cover)
Frank Walters - Science Teacher (Biology at KS5, Maternity Cover)
Technical Support Staff
Karen Whittaker - Chemistry
Fiona Holder - Biology
Sally Jenkins - Biology
Anna Wilson - Biology
Michelle Foinette - Physics