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We aim to give our KS3 students a solid foundation in the key concepts that are fundamental to a good knowledge of Science. Our curriculum is built on the principle of mastery, so our students will revisit the big Science ideas every year but will build on their prior knowledge to help them deepen their understanding.

We want to encourage students to think, talk and write like scientists and to improve their engagement with and enthusiasm for the subject.

What is taught and how?

The Big Ideas

  • Ecosystems
  • Genes
  • Organisms
  • Matter
  • Energy
  • Forces

Each of these big ideas is broken down into specific content for Year 7 and Year 8.

Year 7

Ecosystems Respiration
Genes Evolution
Organisms Tissues & Organs
Matter Elements & Compounds, Reactants and Products, Earth Systems
Energy Electric Circuits, Energy Transfer
Forces Contact Forces, Gravity

Year 8

Ecosystems Interdependence
Genes Reproduction
Organisms Cells
Matter Substances & Particles, Changing Substances
Energy Electrical Energy, Light
Forces Movement, Magnetism

*In September 2019, Year 8 will continue following our previous scheme of work, where they will build on the content covered in Year 7 in the following topics: Forces, Electromagnets, Energy, Waves, Matter, Reactions, Earth, Organisms, Ecosystems, Genes.

Year 9

All students are taught an introductory skills course to GCSE Science.  This is designed to develop their investigative and mathematical skills for the new GCSE specifications.

All students then start Unit 1 (Building blocks) from the AQA GCSE Synergy Life Science course, and Unit 5 (Building Blocks for understanding) from the AQA GCSE Synergy Physical Science course.

Years 10 and 11

Combined Science.

This is the course taken by the overwhelming majority of year 10 and 11 students at Severn Vale School.

The AQA Combined Science (Synergy) course is split into two components: Life Science & Physical Science.  Students study both units.

Life Science includes the following units:

  • Unit 1 – Building blocks: These are the important building blocks for developing scientific ideas and explanations. The topic moves from particles to atoms to cells, showing the links between the world of ideas and the real world of objects and events.
  • Unit 2 – Transport over larger distances: Larger organisms need systems to transport solids, liquids and gases over larger distances. This topic moves from simple to complex organisms, and outlines the challenges that this presents for any transport system in plants and animals.
  • Unit 3 – Interactions with the environment: This topic looks at the macro- and micro-effects of the interaction between organisms and the environment. It introduces the effects of lifestyle on the delicate balance within the human body.
  • Unit 4 – Explaining change: This topic discusses how humans affect systems and speculates on how our impact can become benign.

Physical Science includes the following units:

  • Unit 5 – Building blocks: This topic covers the patterns and relationships shown in the periodic table, as well as the common language used by chemists to improve the yield of many industrial processes.
  • Unit 6 – Interactions over small and large distances: This topic looks at strong forces and weak forces between atoms, molecules and much larger structures. Understanding how these interactions take place helps to explain how matter behaves.
  • Unit 7 – Movement and interactions: This topic studies how forces can change the motion of objects. The topic also shows how observations of moving objects can be accounted for in terms of Newton’s three laws of motion.
  • Unit 8 – Guiding spaceship Earth towards a sustainable future: This topic covers how many scientists are involved in the search for solutions to the great challenges facing humanity, such as when developing new materials and processes, how do chemists and engineers ensure that their products do no harm?

All units from Life Science and Physical Science involve students taking part in what are called ‘Required practicals’.  Students will be assessed on their understanding of these practicals in the examination at the end of the course.  Good attendance is therefore vital to ensure students don’t miss the key ideas from each practical.

Students will sit four examination papers at the end of Year 11.  There are two 1 hour 45 minute papers for Life Science and two 1 hour 45minute papers for Physical Science.

Separate Science

As well as offering the Combined Science course, we also offer a Separate Science course for students who meet certain entry requirements.

This takes the form of a more traditional route, with students studying discrete Biology, Chemistry and Physics lessons. 

Students study the same content as the students taking the Combined Science route, but with the addition of extra content.  There is also the ‘Required practical’ element from the Combined Science course.

These students will take also their exams at the end of Y11.  This will entail sitting 6 examination papers, each of which are 1 hour and 45 minutes long.  The 6 papers are split as follows: two Biology papers, two Chemistry papers and two Physics papers.


Students will complete regular knowledge tests at the discretion of their science teacher. All students will complete end of term exams in December, March and June.


In Science, we use Educake for all homework. All students are issued with login information at the start of Year 7. Students can expect homework on a weekly basis.