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School Science Explained

In the picture Sue Frencham Head of Ruthin School, and Alice, Elin and Caitlin, winners of the National Schools Young Analyst Competition 2016. Alice went onto Cambridge to study Mathematics. At Lancaster, Elin studied medicine, and Caitlin studied Law.

Scientists and their future!

The National Curriculum is changing in Wales. We ask the question what it means for Science?

The Welsh Government have launched a new curriculum for Wales. They have recognised the importance of providing opportunities for children to learn skills as well as academic subjects to prepare them for the modern world. The United Nations Rights of the Child and the 4 purposes provide the foundations for the new curriculum and the ethos behind it. The curriculum is innovative and forward thinking. We asked Sue Frencham, Head of Ruthin School and former Head of Chemistry to explain what the curriculum looks like for the future of students and particularly the difference between the new Double Award Sciences in Wales and how it compares with the Triple Science GCSE’s.

“Here at Ruthin School, we embrace the principles behind the new Welsh curriculum because the development of skills mirrors closely our 5-year Strategy. Students and their parents choose to come to our school because they wish to study traditional academic subjects. However, studying at Ruthin School provides much more than simply studying a specification. Our children are able to develop skills in a nurturing and safe environment that gives them the confidence to try new things without fearing failure. The small class sizes and excellent attitudes towards learning mean we can offer opportunities in the classroom and beyond that prepares our children for the modern world of work. The focus and dedication of our students mean we have the perfect opportunity to maximise their potential. We deliver a rigorous academic curriculum whilst students develop these additional skills through the opportunities we provide. We embrace the underlying principles of the new Welsh curriculum but will continue to deliver subjects through our specialist teachers.

The Welsh curriculum will be changing the way GCSEs are assessed and will no longer have space for the full suite of GCSE Sciences in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. From 2025 students in Year 10 will study for the double award in science. At Ruthin School we will continue to offer the three-separate sciences. The double award means students currently in Year 6 will study Biology, Chemistry and Physics to cover the equivalent of 2 GCSEs of content rather that the full GCSE for each. For students who want to go on and study A level sciences there is an enormous advantage to completing a full GCSE in the subject prior to starting the course. There is a significant increase in demand between GCSE and A level. In 2017, the English GCSE examinations were changed to increase the demand. We have taught these GCSEs for many years and we discovered the new version to be advantageous in preparing students for the demands of A levels in sciences. As most of our students take at least one A level in a science or mathematics, we can be confident we have chosen the right courses to prepare them going onto post-16 studies in sciences and mathematics.

Parents whose children are in the current in Year 6 don’t necessarily know yet whether or not their child is science orientated, but equally, I think parents who are striving for children to achieve academic excellence will want them to have the option to go into high-level sciences.

According to the Welsh Government website for maintained state schools, the new curriculum will be taught to those up to year 6 from September 2022. In 2022, secondary schools have the option to teach Year 7 the new curriculum but by September 2023 both Year 7 and 8 will be taught according to the new curriculum. Therefore, if your child is starting Year 7 in September 2022, in a state setting, they will be taught the double award GCSE in Year 10.

At Ruthin School, we have a proven track record of achieving the very best grades, particularly in the sciences and mathematics. Many of our students are the scientists of the future. Over the past 2 years, we have seen how vitally important the sciences are to the future of our planet, from fighting the pandemic to reducing global warming. Our students come from all over the world. It’s not hard to imagine this, coupled with our dedication to excellence in the sciences, will create the opportunity for more inclusive and cooperative scientific communities that we surely need if humans are to prosper and thrive into the future.”

Entrance and scholarship examinations for Sept 2022 entry will take place on Saturday 15th January.

Posted on: December 20, 2021

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