All students study the three separate sciences - Biology, Chemistry and Physics - throughout their time at The Swanage School and therefore have the opportunity to take the three science GCSEs if they wish, while enabling some students to take Combined Science at GCSE (equivalent to two GCSEs) if that suits them better.

Science learning is exciting, with practical investigations and field trips bringing it to life. Learning about the natural world enhances lives in an increasingly technological society, and a love and knowledge of science can provide a platform for more advanced studies and can be the foundation stone for a wide range of exciting careers.


Key Stage 3

"The principal focus of science teaching in Key Stage 3 is to develop a deeper understanding of a range of scientific ideas in the subject disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.

"Pupils should begin to see the connections between these subject areas and become aware of some of the big ideas underpinning scientific knowledge and understanding."

UK Government

To encourage students to relate science learning to phenomena in the world around them, we have carefully created our own contextually based Key Stage 3 curriculum by adapting Pearson 'Exploring Science' resources. We use modelling and abstract ideas to further develop and evaluate explanations to teach the sciences in a way that ensures students have the knowledge to enable them to develop curiosity about the natural world, insight into working scientifically, and appreciation of the relevance of science to their everyday lives.

Students are given the opportunity to participate in a range of activities, including scientific research, experiments and group activities. They decide on the appropriate type of scientific enquiry required to answer their own questions, evaluate their results and identify further questions arising from them.

Throughout the curriculum, students are provided with opportunities to develop their use of scientific vocabulary, including the use of scientific nomenclature, units and mathematical representations. 

The KS3 curriculum covers the following topics:

Biology Chemistry Physics

Biology safety and skills
Cells, tissues, organs and systems
Sexual reproduction in animals
Muscles and bones
Food and nutrition

Plants and their reproduction
Genetics and evolution
Breathing and respiration
Plant growth
Unicellular organisms
Biology skills for GCSE

Mixtures and separation
Acids and alkalis
The particle model
Atoms, elements and compounds

The periodic table
Metals and their uses
Making materials


Energy currency
Electrical current
Forces in action
The particle model

Solar system
Energy budget


Key Stage 4

Studying science at GCSE builds upon and deepens scientific knowledge and understanding of ideas developed in Key Stage 3. 

We follow the Pearson Edexcel GCSE Science specifications. There are two routes that students can follow: GCSE Combined Science (two GCSEs) or the GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics (separate sciences). Our curriculum is structured so that students take Combined Science, or can opt to study for the GCSEs as separate sciences (known as Triple Science). Foundation and higher tiered levels further allow for students to sit science exams in a way that best suits them.

Students have the opportunity to complete a range of contextually based activities in the form of assessment frameworks and research projects which are designed to encourage all students to best show what they know and what they can do, so that every student can enjoy science and succeed in their studies.

The Key Stage 4 curriculum covers:

Biology Chemistry Physics

Key concepts in biology
Cells and control
Natural selection and genetic modification
Health, disease and the development of medicines

Plant structures and their functions
Animal coordination, control and homeostasis
Exchange and transport in animals
Ecosystems and material cycles

Key concepts in chemistry
States of matter and mixtures
Chemical changes
Extracting metals and equilibria

Groups in the periodic table
Rates of reaction and energy changes
Fuel and Earth science


Key concepts of physics
Motions and forces
Conservation of energy
Light and the electromagnetic spectrum

Energy - forces doing work
Forces and their effects
Electricity and circuits
Static electricity
Magnetism and the motor effect
Electromagnetic induction
Particle model
Forces and matter

In the Field

Year 7 and 8 students have the opportunity to take part in a real-life scientific research project by completing an insect and plant survey, and Year 9 and 10 students by completing a fungi and dune profile survey, at Shell Bay with the National Trust. Students submit the data they collect to The Dynamic Dunescape project which helps to monitor the biodiversity of the sand dunes at Studland.

To enrich the learning of our Biology students, Year 10 visit Monkey World Ape Rescue Centre. Here, they see for themselves our closest living relative, the Chimpanzee, how primates use tools for grooming and feeding and learn binomial names, supporting their learning of the module covering classification and human evolution. The visit also gives students the opportunity to see the impact of animal testing in the medical research industry, relating to the module on drug development.