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Our Vision

The Science department aims to nurture creativity and adaptability by developing all students' scientific knowledge in order to foster a thirst for enquiry and develop their understanding of how science can be used to explain phenomena, make predictions and analyse outcomes.


At Astor Secondary School, our aim is for our students to become independent enquirers with transferrable skills that can be applied to other areas of the school's curriculum in order to enhance their conceptual understanding of the world around them. 

We do this by:

  • Implementing the school vision of being adaptable, creative and proud.
  • Setting challenging and high expectations for all pupils.
  • Offering a variety of approaches to teaching and learning to engage and motivate pupils and demand their active participation.
  • Smoothing the transition for pupils between key stages and ensure progression in teaching and learning throughout their time at Astor Secondary School.
  • Ensuring all pupils regardless of ability make expected progress between key stages.
  • Exploring enrichment opportunities outside the curriculum to enhance pupils’ enjoyment of science.


Students receive a varied curriculum which contains the core skills needed for success in this and other subjects.

Throughout their time studying science students learn about key concepts within the three scientific disciplines; Biology, Chemsitry and Physics.  This includes cell biology, ecology, quantitative chemistry, chemistry of the atmosphere, electricity and electromagnetism.

There are a wide range of topics covered thorughout the year groups in science and in order to embed this learning the links between topics are made clear in the delivery of the curriculum.  Students' learning will be challenged and strengthened by recall quizzes, explanation and questioning, modelling of key concepts, lots of practise and both verbal and written feedback.

Students will be signposted to everyday applications of science where relevant, including in relation to a wide range of careers involving science.

The Science department are always looking for ways that we can use student skills across the college curriculum so wherever possible cross-curricular links will also be made especially with Mathematics and Geography.

As well as combined science at GCSE level (2 GCSE qualifications), students have the choice to opt for triple science (3 seperate GCSE qualifications).  This provides a greater breadth of study within the three disicplines of science and supports a more in depth understanding of the subject.  It is often chosen by those studetns wishing to pursue a career in science or with a deep-rooted passion for the subject.

For any enquiries please contact Mrs S Falconbridge, Head of Science.


KS3 Science
Years 7, 8 and 9 students are taught in their form classes. We currently have a Grammar Stream in each year group. 

Years 7 and 8 will have 6 science lessons per fortnight and year 9 have 7 science lessons per fortnight.

At Astor Secondary School, KS3 Science for Years 7 and 8 follows the National Curriculum and in year 9 the students cover topics that are aimed at transitioning them towards their GCSE programme of study, these topics are selected so that they build on and embed previous learning and support further learning.

Please find below the content covered for each group over the year.




Students will also have weekly homework that is accessed through an online platform called Tassomai (see homework tab for more information).



Key Stage 4 Science

Our aim is that learners will achieve at least two Science GCSE qualifications or equivalent at the end of the course. The course will give learners a good knowledge of science and provide them with a firm base should they wish to continue studying the subject at A level.

We offer both combined science: trilogy, which is a core subject and is a 2 GCSE qualification consisting of topics in biology, chemistry and physics and triple science, which can be chosen during the options process in year 9.  Triple science enables students to achieve 3 GCSE qualifications through a programme of study that encorporates the content of the combined trilogy course and additional content and topics.  Students are awarded a separate grade in each of the three disciplines: biology, chemistry and physics.  In both instances these courses are examined at then end of year 11.

The biology topics that are studied are: cell biology, organisation, infection and response, bioenergetics, homeostasis and response, inheritance, variation and evolution and ecology.  For triple scientists, there is extra content and detail studied within these topic areas.  

The Chemistry topics that are studied are: atomic structure and the periodic table, bonding, structure and the properties of matter, quantitative chemistry, chemical changes, energy changes, the rate and extent of chemical change, organis chemistry, chemical analysis, chemistry of the atmosphere and using resources. For triple scientists, there is extra content and detail studied within these topic areas.   

The physics topics that are studied are: energy, electricity, particle model of matter, atomic structure, forces, waves and magnetism and electromagnetism. For triple scientists, there is extra content and detail studied within these topic areas as well as the extra topic, space physics.  

Completion of their chosen key stage 4 course will enable students to be able to:

  • Develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding of Science.

  • Develop and learn to apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry and problem solving skills.

  • Develop the ability to evaluate claims based on science through critical analysis of the methodology, evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Practical work is at the heart of both the key stage 4 science courses we provde at Astor, however there is no seperate ‘practical exam’.  For the combined/trilogy course there will be questions in the written exams that will draw on the knowledge and understanding students have gained by carrying out a specific set of 16 'required practicals' and for those taking triple science there are 10 'required practicals' for Biology and Physics and 8 for Chemistry.

Both combined and triple science are linear qualifications that are taken at either foundation or higher tier where the grades available are 1-5 and 3-9 respectively.  In order to achieve the awards, students must complete all assessments at the end of the course and in the same series. There are six papers (2 for each discipline) that will be sat at either higher or foundation level to achieve the award.

Assessment Objective (AO) Details of Assessment Objective Percentage of GCSE
AO1 Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas, scientific techniques and procedures. 40%
AO2 Apply knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas, scientific enquiry and procedures. 40%
AO3 Analyse information and ideas to: interpret and evaluate; make judgements and draw conclusions; develop and improve experimental procedures. 20%

The GCSE examinations will include a variety of questions that could require students to demonstrate their:

  • Knowledge and understanding of the content developed in one section or topic, including any associated mathematical content and practical skills.
  • Ability to apply mathematical and practical skills to areas of content they are not normally developed in.
  • Ability to draw together different areas of knowledge and understanding within one answer.

These skills will be assessed using a rane of question types, including multiple choice, short answer and those requiring an extended response.  Extended response questions will not only look at scientific content and skills, but also the student's ability to construct and develop a coherent, logical, relevant and appropriately structured and sustained line of reasoning.  Therefore drawing not only on their scientific skills, but also at times their mathematical and literacy skills.

Combined science - trilogy:
Both tiers are examined by way of two 1 hour 15 minute papers per discipline (so six papers in total).  Paper 1 for biology and physics examines the first 4 topics we cover in class and for chemistry it is the first 5 topics covered in class that are examined here.  Paper 2 covers the remainder of the topics studied in class for each discipline.  Each paper equates to 16.7% of the the two GCSE grades available.

Combined GCSE Duration Date
Biology Paper 1 1 hour 15 minutes 16th May 2023
Chemistry Paper 1 1 hour 15 minutes 22nd May 2023
Physics Paper 1 1 hour 15 minutes 25th May 2023
Biology Paper 2 1 hour 15 minutes 9th June 2023
Chemistry Paper 2 1 hour 15 minutes 13th June 2023
Physics Paper 2 1 hour 15 minutes 16th June 2023

Triple science:
Similarly to combined science both tiers are examined by six papers, two for each discipline - these papers are 1 hour and 45 minutes in length to enable the additional material to be examined.  Papers 1 and 2 are worth 50% each for each discipline.  For biology, the first 4 topics are covered in paper 1 and the remainig topics in paper 2.  This is also the case for physics (paper 2 is where the additional, space physics, topic is examined) and chemistry paper 1 covers topics 1-5 and paper 2 examines the remaining chemistry topics.

Triple GCSE Duration Date
Biology Paper 1 1 hour 45 minutes 16th May 2023
Chemistry Paper 1 1 hour 45 minutes 22nd May 2023
Physics Paper 1 1 hour 45 minutes 25th May 2023
Biology Paper 2 1 hour 45 minutes 9th June 2023
Chemistry Paper 2 1 hour 45 minutes 13th June 2023
Physics Paper 2 1 hour 45 minutes 16th June 2023

Students will also have weekly homework that is accessed through an online platform called Tassomai (see homework tab for more information).



For students at KS5 (Year 12 and 13) the science department offer A-levels in both Biology and Chemistry.

The course is suitable for those students who have met the entry requirements, those who enjoy studying Biology and/or Chemistry at GCSE and those wishing to pursue a career rooted in science.

Successful candidates are hardworking, well-motivated and are able to work and learn independently.  These courses require focus and a neccessity to follow up classroom learning by engaging with wider reading (from a variety of scources) around the topics they are studying in order to be able to draw upon this when applying their knowledge.  Active engaement with lessons is essential, including contributing to class discussions, openly seeking advice and working with each other to clarify and consolidate understanding. Stufednts will need to be well-organised and able to make appropritely detailed notes in and outside of the classroom.

A Level Biology

Course Content and Aims

Students will follow the AQA GCE Biology specification. The course is designed to build on concepts and skills developed at GCSE. It encourages careful observation, recording, analysis of data and application and promotes an ability to think logically and critically.

The subject content has been designed to be relevant to 'real' world experiences and to ensure that it enables students to develop thier skills in line with related universty courses should that be what students decide to pursue in their future studies.

Subject Content:

  • Unit 1 Biological molecules
  • Unit 2 Cells
  • Unit 3 Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  • Unit 4 Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
  • Unit 5 Energy transfers in and between organisms
  • Unit 6 Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
  • Unit 7 Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
  • Unit 8 The control of gene expression

Typical classroom activities include lectures, discussions, debates, group work, research, model making, presentations, experimental work and topic tests. Homework assignments include research and note-taking, questions, writing up experiments and essays. The time spent on homework is approximately four to six hours per week.


A-Level courses are linear qualifications. 
A-Level Qualification:

The A-Level Biology qualification is assessed over three papers, which assess content from all 8 units plus relevant practical skills.


Paper Content and Other Information Duration Date
Paper 1
  • Any content from units 1-4 including, relevant practical skills
  • 91 marks total
  • 76 marks - mixture of short and long answer questions
  • 15 marks - extended response
  • Worth 35% of A-Level qualification
2 hours 7th June 2023

Paper 2

  • Any content from units 5-8 including, relevant practical skills
  • 91 marks total
  • 76 marks - mixture short and long answer questions
  • 15 marks - comprehension question
  • Worth 35% of A-Level qualification

2 hours


16th June 2023
Paper 3
  • Any content from units 1-8, including relevant practical skills
  • 78 marks total
  • 38 marks - structured questions, including practical techniques
  • 15 marks - critical analysis of given experimental data
  • 25 marks - one essay from a choice of two titles
  • Worth 30% of A-Level qulaification
2 hours 21st June 2023

There is no longer a separate practical skills assessment that counts towards the Biology ‘A’ Level qualification. Instead there is a standalone certification that recognises practical skills. The exam board dictates a set list of practical techniques students will need to be able to demonstrate throughout the year in order to be awarded this additional certificate.  These are assessed thorough a variety of 'required practicals' that afford students several opportunities to link practical experiences to learned theory and to develop and equip them with essential practical skills.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

Biology ‘A’ Level combines well with Physics, Chemistry, Maths, Geography and P.E. Career opportunities exist in laboratory work, in industry, genetics, ecology, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, work with animals, health care, information science, e.g. in a museum or library, teaching, pharmacy, medicine and dentistry.

A Level Chemistry

Course Content and Aims

The ‘A’ Level Chemistry course covers a wide variety of Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry topics designed to build on work covered at GCSE and to form an excellent basis for further study. As well as enhancing students’ knowledge of Chemistry the course aims to develop analytical and problem solving skills as well as practical technique. The course content reflects reflects the changing face of Chemistry in academia and in industry, reflecting new advances in analytical techniques as well as an increased focus on applications of Chemistry in medical and pharmaceutical contexts.

‘A’ Level Chemistry has strong links with the other Sciences and Mathematics and we recommend that students aim to take one or more of these complimentary subjects along with Chemistry.

Lessons are varied, incorporating individual and group practicals. Theoretical work often includes discussions and students are expected to carry out individual research to further their understanding of the topics. At the end of each topic the students’ progress is assessed in a short test. Each week, students can expect to receive set tasks for homework or revision but in addition are expected to spend at least two hours of non-directed time performing their own independent note-making and study.


As with Biology, A-Level courses are linear qualifications. 

Subject Content:

The course covers a range of physical chemistry topics including, atomic structure and energetics, inorganic chemistry including, periodicity and organic chemistry including, alkanes and organic synthyesis as well as relevant practical skills.

A-Level Qualification:

Paper Content and Other Information Duration Date
Paper 1
  • Relevant Physical Chemistry topics, Inorganic Chemistry and relevant practical skills 
  • 105 marks total
  • 105 marks - mixture of short and long answer questions
  • Worth 35% of A-Level qualification
2 hours 12th June 2023

Paper 2

  • Relevant Physical Chemistry topics, Organic Chemistry and relevant practical skills
  • 105 marks total
  • 76 marks - mixture short and long answer questions
  • Worth 35% of A-Level qualification

2 hours


 19th June  2023
Paper 3
  • Any content and any relevant practical skills
  • 90 marks total
  • 40 marks - practical techniques and data analysis
  • 20 marks - questions testing across the specification
  • 30 marks - multiple choice questions
  • Worth 30% of A-Level qulaification
2 hours 23rd June 2023

Practical skills no longer count towards the Chemistry ‘A’ Level qualification and instead form a standalone certification. The exam board dictates a set list of practical techniques students will need to be able to demonstrate throughout the year in order to be awarded this additional certificate.

Higher Education and Career Opportunities

An ‘A’ Level qualification in Chemistry is an indicator of a student’s higher level reasoning skills as well as their possessing an excellent grasp of abstract concepts. Higher qualifications in Chemistry are widely sought after and studying Chemistry is the basis for a variety of opportunities, including careers in Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary Medicine, Forensic Science, Agricultural and Environmental Science and Engineering. It also opens doors to careers in Finance, Law and Accountancy.

Entry Requirements

4 GCSEs (or equivalent) at 5 or above (including Science)


AQA Biology

AQA Chemistry



KS3, GCSE and A-Level Revision Resources

Revision Guides - AQA (Exam Board)

CGP Revision guides, workbooks and exam practise books and revision flashcards for Higher and Foundation tiers for both KS4 (combined science and triple science) and KS5 are available to purchase through Astor Secondary School.

Free Homework & Revision for A Level, GCSE, KS3 & KS2 (


The revision materials are in the same order as you sit your exam. There are links to revision materials for each exam. It is never too early to start revising.  

VIDEO: Biology Paper 1  

BBC Bitesize:  

VIDEO: Chemistry Paper 1 

BBC Bitesize: 

VIDEO: Physics Paper 1

BBC Bitesize: 

VIDEO: Biology Paper 2 

BBC Bitesize: 

VIDEO: Chemistry Paper 2

BBC Bitesize: 

VIDEO: Physics Paper 2   

BBC Bitesize: 



KS3 and KS4

At Astor Secondary School, homework is important for our students to complete in order to support their learning and to strengthen their recall of content, consolidation of topics and for practise.

In the science department for years 7 to 11 we support the learning of our students using an online homework platform called Tassomai.  Research shows that the best revision and learning techniques in order to get information to stick is to:

  • Work for concentrated short bursts
  • Test yourself frequently
  • Regularly switch between topics

Tassomai facilitates this kind of knowledge-building and learning for students who engage with it.

Tassomai uses intelligent software that creates questions that cater to the individual needs of the user, meaning that if a student answers a question incorrectly, similar questions will appear to enable the student to improve areas that they find difficult. This knowledge building all contributes to their ‘knowledge tree’ which visually represents the progress they are making.

Parents/Carers will recieve a weekly progress report of their child's Tassomai activity so that they are also able to track engagement and progress and support their child at home. The weekly Tassomai report gives parents instructions on how to log into their own account, enabling access to their child’s 'Tassomai tree' - an interactive visual representation of your child's progress.  Selecting red and orange leaves on the tree will bring up the material your child is less confident in.  If you have more than one child using Tassomai in the school, you can easily switch between their accounts from your own account.

Exemplar Tassomai Parent Report:

Parent_Report.pdf (

Students can download the Tassomai app or use it online.  They need to login with their school email address (ending '') and then enter the temporary password: QuizLearnGoal.  They will then be prompted to choose a new password of their own.  When they have done this they need to select their science class from the drop down menu (the class code on their timetable) - they will then be ready to complete their homework.

  • Students in years 7-9 must complete a minimum of 75 questions per week with 50%+ accuracy (Monday to Sunday)
  • Students in years 10 and 11 must complete a minimum of 100 questions per week with 50%+ accuracy (Monday to Sunday)

Any students struggling to get logged into Tassomai can come to the science department 'Tassomai clinics' in room 32 on Tuesday and Wednesday lunchtimes.  These sessions can also be used by students who may be unable to access their homework via their phone or computer at home.

Those students failing to engage with their homework will be expected to catch up with this missed learning during lunchtime or after school at the discretion of the science department.

Useful Links:

An introduction to Tassomai - YouTube

The GCSE Survival Guide - a free handbook for parents — Tassomai


Homework for A-level students is, like KS3 and KS4, aimed at strengthening students' ability to improve the recall of content and to consolidate and practise their learning.  In addition, KS5 homework has a focus on independent learning, supported by teacher-directed activities including application questions, consolidation activities set by the teacher to be completed independently by the student and practical preparation, completion and evaluation.

The Science Team

  • Mrs S Falconbridge (Head of Science) – Combined Science/Triple Science (Biology)/A-Level Biology

  • Miss F Aldous (Deputy Head of Science) – KS3 Science/Combined Science/A-Level Biology

  • Mr D Mowat – Combined Science/Triple Science (Physics)

  • Dr H Twyman – Triple Science (Chemistry)/A-Level Chemistry

  • Mrs M Brown – KS3 Science/Combined Science/A-Level Biology

  • Mrs H Fox – KS3 Science/Combined Science

  • Mr H Day - KS3 Science/Combined Science

  • Mrs R Fuller - KS3 Science/Combined Science

  • Miss E Stewart-Lewis - KS3 Science

  • Mr S Blackford – Science Technician

Covid-19 'Keep up-Catch up'

The pandemic has had a huge impact on education, bringing with it lots of uncertainty.  In light of this we as a school are committed to ensuring those students requiring additional support to catch up or keep up with work are able to close those gaps created as a result of this disrupted learning and learning that may go on to be disrupted due to the neccessary isolation days that students may have to adhere to.

Remote Learning - 'Keep up'
Here at Astor Secondary School we use Microsoft Teams to maintain contact with all students and as a platform to provide work online so that students can work remotely from home if the need to self-isolate arises.  Please use the link below to access Microsoft Teams:
All students should have their log in details or can retrieve these from the school if needed. Work will be set by the student's science teacher that relates to work they would otherwise have missed.

Flexi-6 - 'Catch up'
Flexi-6 lessons take place for an hour at the end of the school day, essentially a period 6 lesson.  Students are both identified by teachers as being 'required' to attend these lessons because they need additional support with the progress of their leearning or they can volunteer for 'Flexi 6' revision lessons because they want additional support with their learning. These run Monday - Friday and are supported by year teams.  The science department run seperate sessions across the key stages as deemed neccessary by the teacher and/or at the request of the students themselves.

Additional Support
Seneca is an another great resource to use for supporting KS3, GCSE and A-Level students with 'keep up - catch up' work. This site offers revision and practise papers for both the combined science and triple science courses as well as both biology and chemistry A-Level AQA courses. Please use the link below to sign up:

Free Homework & Revision for A Level, GCSE, KS3 & KS2 (

The AQA website also offers great resources for GCSE and A- Level students to revisie and practise exam papers. Please use the link below to search for materials linked to the these courses: 

AQA | Find past papers and mark schemes

Literacy in Science

Research shows that improved literacy will increase students' ability to access all aspects of the curriculum and that it can increase opportunities throughout an individual's life.  
Within the context of science, literacy is extremely important in increasing the capacity for understanding many of the key concepts studied from years 7-13, it affords students the ability to articulate themselves with more complex scientific language which in turn will improve their progress and it enables them to make clearer links between new learning across wider subject areas which again supports their learning across all of the subjects they study.
As a department we aim to help students improve their scientific literacy and therefore their wider literacy by mkaing them explicitly aware of key terminology, particularly new and unfamiliar words, by developing students' understanding of the etymology of key scientific words and ensuring their familiarity with key command words and how these determine a students' approach to answering exam-style questions.

We are proud to have a newly refurbished library here at Astor where we have recently introuduced  some new initiatives including 'Books for Change' offering access to diverse books educating our pupils on issues like race, gender equality, identity, etc.  Within the library students will also be able to access books that support scientific wider reading.

Here is a link to the Literacy Policy for the Science department: 

Science-Department-Literacy-Policy-November-2022.docx (