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Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College

Ivybridge Community College


Head of Department: Sue Grist

Welcome to the Science Department at Ivybridge Community College!

It's the fizz, gives the buzz - Make Science Special

Science is exciting, innovative and one of the most fundamental subjects that students study.  We aim to develop the scientific skills and knowledge that students bring with them.  We want them to learn more of the powerful ideas and ways of doing things that Scientists have discovered and invented, to gain a wider experience of experimenting and investigating for themselves; to work scientifically and to think hard about how the natural world works.  The tricks of colours and chemicals, and the magic of living things are as interesting as ever! 

Scientific exploration has formed and continues to shape the way in which we view the world.  We hope students will recognise how enormously useful Science has become and how important it is to use our knowledge thoughtfully and responsibly.

Our Science Department has received the PTI Mark consecutively for five years, in recognition of the Department’s work.  The extensive programme of STEM activities, visits and events offered throughout the years have been recognised, along with the range of quality and challenging Science programmes available to our students.

The Head of Science is Mrs Sue Grist.  We have three Deputy Heads of Department, who each lead a team of around eight or nine staff within the Department; we currently have twenty-seven teaching staff in all.  We have a friendly and efficient team of eight Science Technicians to support this practical – based subject.

The current post holders with Departmental responsibilities are Mrs Kiri Wilson (Deputy Head of Science, ic Biology and Key Stage 4), Mr Richard O’Hara (Deputy Head of Science, ic Chemistry and Year 10) and Mr Richard Barry (Deputy Head of Science, ic Physics and Key Stage 3).  The Science Leadership Team includes Mr Jon Hargreaves (Assistant Head of Department Physics), Mr Jon Lyall and Ms Joanne Wright (Assistant Heads of Department Biology), Mr Ben Stancombe (Assistant Head of Department Chemistry) and Mr Jon Shellard (Assistant Head of Department BTEC).  Many of our team also hold whole College responsibilities.


The Department has twenty-one well-equipped laboratories and a Sixth Form Projects Room, which is also used as a teaching room.  Each laboratory is equipped with class sets of a good range of more frequently used apparatus items, to facilitate effective practical and investigation work.  Every laboratory is equipped with a data projector and interactive whiteboard.  Most members of Science staff are normally based in and are responsible for their own laboratories.

Current provision for students also includes a Science Computer Room with a suite of twenty-six full facility PCs, three laptop trolleys for use in laboratories; an Optics Room, wildlife pond and a Greenhouse.  All Key Stage 4 students are issued with revision guides and workbooks for their own use at home. 

Our Science Department has received the PTI Mark consecutively for five years, in recognition of the Department’s work.  The extensive programme of STEM activities, visits and events offered throughout the year has been recognised, along with the range of quality and challenging Science programmes available to our students

 SCIENCE at Key Stage 3

Our Key Stage 3 course, to our own design at Ivybridge, is called “2020 Science”.  We want to prepare the next generation with “perfect vision” for life in our technological world! 

All students have six hours of Science per fortnight in Years 7 and 8, taught as separate Biology, Chemistry and Physics subjects, by subject specialists, in one of our well-equipped laboratories or in our Science computer room, using our full-facility PC suite.


Three modules (topics) of Biology, Chemistry and Physics are studied throughout each year.  All classes study the same modules, but at levels appropriate to the ability range of the students in the class.  This achieves a balanced coverage of the KS3 Science National Curriculum subject matter over the two years.

2020 Science Year 7




TB1 - What are you made of?

TC1 - Solids, Liquids and Gas

TP1 - Energy and Motion

TB2 - The Birds and Bees

TC2 - The Chemistry of Stuff

TP2 - Light and Sound

TB3 - Respiration


TP3 - the Solar System


2020 Science Year 8




TB4 - Diet and fitness

TC4 - Acids and Alkalis

TP4 - Electrical Circuits

TB5 - Healthy mind and body

TC5 - Metals and their Reactions

TP5 - Energy and Heat

TB6 - Genes and the Environment


TP6 - Machines

The skills needed for investigative and exploratory Science are an important part of scientific work in primary schools during Key Stages 1 and 2.  We build on these essential skills during all of the modules.  In some lessons, students develop specific skills such as wiring a circuit or using a biological key for identification.  In other lessons, they learn more general skills such as deciding how many observations to make or how to draw up a good graph or plan an investigation.  Woven into the work of the Modules, they learn how to work safely with a widening range of scientific equipment. 

Students also find out about the importance and relevance of  Science to many areas of life and about the many ways in which it is used – known as ‘Working Scientifically’ in the National Curriculum.  They undertake scientific challenges of different kinds over the two years of the course.  Some of these, combining practical and theory work, are Scientific Investigations.  Within a brief which the Teacher gives the class, students plan their own way to investigate the problem.  Other Challenges involve research on a topical area of Science and help to develop the students’ argument and debating skills.


Students make use of a wide variety of textbooks and resources in class.  Students are issued with a KS3 Revision Guide at the start of Year 7.  Students also have access to an online textbook in both Year 7 and 8 via the College VLE which also enables students to access video clips, test questions and homework tasks.  Students have access to an online assessment resource ‘Alfie’ which may be used to set homework and assessment tasks, along with in-class work.  We also use models, demonstrations, posters, video extracts and worksheets as appropriate. 

In addition to the Science Computer Room, there are three sets of wireless-enabled laptops available in the Department, which can also be used with sensing and data-capture equipment.  The Department subscribes to ‘e-chalk’ which provides for fun activities at the interactive whiteboards in class from time to time!  It’s the variety and fascination of hands-on experiments that still makes Science special.

The Science Computer Room is open and staffed during lunchtimes for students who want to continue to work there in their own time, or to obtain help with some homework from a Teacher.


Homework is set in line with the published homework timetable for each Year Group.  From time to time, longer pieces of work will span several home-works.  The tasks are varied, including the writing up of experimental work, answering questions related to class work, research tasks, reading, factual learning and revising. 


At the start of Year 7, students are placed in Upper, Middle or Foundation sets and the sets in Science are the same as in Mathematics.   Important feedback on students’ progress is gained from short tests at the end of each Module and from assessment tasks and 'Challenge's carried out throughout the year.  

Assessments are set with an appropriate level of difficulty for the teaching group.  Science Teachers also judge how well students are progressing from their responses in class and from how well they carry out the practical experiments, challenges and other activities.

Teaching sets are reviewed at the end of the Autumn Term and in May/June by the Maths and Science Departments.  Students are moved from one set to another if appropriate, taking into account all of the available information.  Set moves in Science are directly linked to set moves in Mathematics.  Parents are informed of any change of teaching group


We hope you will encourage an interest in any and all aspects of Science.  Some students will participate in looking after animals or plants at home, or enjoy watching Science TV programmes.  If you are passing through Bristol or Cardiff, don’t miss “At@ Bristol” or “Techniques”; visits like this are an excellent stimulus for this age group.  We also run a weekly STEM Club during lunchtime for all Year 7 and 8 students.

Occasionally we may ask for home activities that need your permission or support – for example a survey of solutions in the kitchen, a model to make from simple materials, or a close look at electric light bulbs.

More often, your child may appreciate help in looking something up in a textbook or elsewhere, or working out how to tackle a harder question.  Revising for Science tests is always best done with pen and paper in use, e.g. to decide on key points or to label a diagram but there are online resources to support students with their revision (online textbook for example).  Many students find it useful to have someone else to question them.   Most important of all is the check on homework deadlines and completion!

KS4 Science

From the start of Year 9, students are placed in classes preparing for either Dual Certification in the Sciences, i.e. Combined Science and will gain two separate GCSE grades OR Triple/ Separate Science Certification in the Sciences, i.e. three separate GCSE grades.

The current Year 11 students are following the OCR Gateway Science course.

Year 9 and 10 students follow the new AQA Combined Science: Trilogy or the AQA Separate Science course.

Both courses are taught during 12 lessons per fortnight, from the start of Year 9, by three subject specialist teachers (usually 2 lessons per week per science subject). 

The Triple course is an express course which makes high demands of the students, all of whom will be taught towards either the Higher Tier of entry or Foundation Tier.  All courses are examined at the end of Year 11.

In Year 9, both the Dual and Triple courses will begin their respective GCSE courses and will complete the Key Stage 3 National Curriculum in Science, which will be incorporated into this first year of their GCSE work.  By the end of Year 11, both the Dual and Triple courses will also meet the full statutory Key Stage 4 National Curriculum requirements in Science.

Progression onto Tertiary Courses in Science subjects at the College.  The Science Department is able to offer in Years 12 and 13:

  • Applied Science, Single Award, at AS Level in Year 12
  • Applied Science, Single Award at A2 Level in Year 13
  • Applied Science, Double Award, at AS Level in Year 12 and A2 in Year 13
  • Biology at AS Level in Year 12 and A2 in Year 13
  • Chemistry at AS Level in Year 12 and A2 in Year 13
  • Physics at AS lLvel in Year 12 and A2 in Year 13

Please note that in accordance with the available examinations and with demand at the College, this offer may change from year to year.  The current entry requirement for all Tertiary courses is five GCSEs at grade C or above, with B grades in the subjects chosen for study at Tertiary level.  B grades or above in Biology, Chemistry and Physics (as chosen for Tertiary) through the Triple Sciences route will meet this requirement fully.  Two B grades through the Double Award Science GCSEs route will be considered on an individual basis for the desired course, but A grades are preferable.

KS5 Sixth Form

We offer a wide range of courses at Sixth Form Level with ten separate courses overall.  In Years 12 and 13 we have substantial numbers in all three separate subjects at Advanced Level and  have a strong academic tradition.  In Chemistry, we follow the Salters course (OCR) with numerous opportunities and visits (e.g. Bristol University) for students to develop their understanding and explore possible career avenues.  In Physics, we follow the OCR Advancing Physics, with a range of industrial visits related to coursework including Alton Towers.  In Biology, we use the OCR Advanced specification and we usually run a short fieldwork day in July in addition to occasional visits, e.g. the Electron Microscopy unit at Plymouth University.  Many of our students have gained success in Olympiad competitions and/or secured places at Oxford or Cambridge Universities. 

Alongside the separate subjects we offer a well-established (OCR) Applied A Level Science course (Single and Double Awards are offered), also taught by teams of subject specialists.   Many of these students go on to gain places at University e.g. for Forensic or Marine Science.  Our use of vocational contexts, including local visits has been highly praised.