Science Faculty Vision

Our vision is to inspire our students on a lifelong adventure to understand the workings of the Universe, the Earth, and Life itself. We seek to empower our students to fully engage with our world and work towards the common good.

Science provides an opportunity for an astounding lifelong journey to understand the Universe and the physical laws that govern it, from the infinitely large to the infinitesimally small. An exploration into the origins and workings of our own watery, rocky world, our Earth, teeming with life, hurtling through space around a star called the Sun, just one star in a sea of billions of stars in a galaxy called the Milky Way. A journey into the wondrous interacting, reacting, chemical elements, the building blocks of the stars, the planets, and the vast array of materials on our Earth, including your very own body! An adventure into the origins and workings of life itself and the astonishing biodiversity that our Earth cradles.

Science also provides many career opportunities as well as being an essential component of understanding the society we live in. Therefore, we provide pathways and support for students with a view to further education and employment. We also seek for our students to approach scientific issues ethically.

A long and successful history

Dronfield Henry Fanshawe School has been in existence for over 400 years. For at least 100 years, Science has been taught to the young people of Dronfield, initially in lofty ancient rooms which smelt of chemicals and teak and now in modern, light, airy laboratories. Over the years, thousands of students have learnt science and gained qualifications to take them on to work in local industries or to study at colleges or universities. In that time they have become engineers, doctors, dentists, vets, nurses, pharmacists, biologists, physicists and chemists. Some have gained first class honours from the top universities and gone on to do research worldwide.

Aims of the Science Faculty

Today, our science teachers continue that tradition, aiming to offer inspiring science lessons to students of all abilities, both inside the laboratory and further afield. We aim to provide appropriate science courses and guidance for all our students, whatever their abilities and aspirations, and prepare them for a world in which scientific and technological developments are growing rapidly. We seek to make all our students aware of the wonders and achievements of science within the community of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. Our aims are derived from the whole school aims and can be distilled into 10 areas:

  1. We want our students to understand scientific knowledge
  2. We want our students to understand the scientific process and skills
  3. We want students to develop a love of learning and thirst for knowledge
  4. We want our students to relate and apply science to relevant contexts including everyday ones
  5. We want students to appreciate how science and its development is embedded in history
  6. We want our students to understand the rich vocabulary of science, read a range of scientific literature fluently and use the vocabulary confidently
  7. We want students to recognise the interconnections between science and other STEM subjects and all other subjects in the curriculum
  8. We want all students to access the curriculum
  9. We want our students to be ethical and take responsibility for their environment
  10. We want to provide pathways for students and support students in their decisions and maximise their life-chances

Big Ideas

Scientific knowledge is vast. No-one can get anywhere near to knowing it all. Therefore, to understand science, unifying concepts or ‘models’ are required to help explain a vast array of data and phenomenon to avoid science becoming a vast array of disconnected facts. We call these unifying concepts ‘Big Ideas’. We use them to interconnect our topics together and progressively provide meaning and understanding. We use 10 Big Ideas of Science, which are taken from Wynne Harlen’s ‘Working with Big Ideas of Science Education’, which was based on extensive research into science education in secondary schools.

We have organised the ideas and topics into a logical and meaningful sequence. We start with the most fundamental ideas and build up to a more sophisticated synthesis and integration of these ideas. As a result, concepts are continually revisited as the curriculum ‘spirals’ and knowledge of the ideas deepens. ‘Small’ spirals occur within in each key stage and larger spiralling takes place from key stage 3 to 4. As the ideas progress and deepen, students should identify that they unify.

We have selected icons to represent the Big Ideas and seek to use these in our lessons to enable students to build schema and interconnections between topics. The table below outlines the Big Ideas we use:

The Big Process

At the heart of scientific knowledge is the scientific method, investigative skills and mathematical skills that feed into the scientific ‘Big Process’. In our curriculum this process is interwoven throughout key stage 3 to 5, together with the technological applications, ethical implications and historical milestones of scientific discovery.


From Y7 to Y13 assessment by the teacher is carried out in a variety of ways and is on-going. This includes verbal responses, presentations, classwork and homework. Each topic is assessed more formally in an end-of-topic written test and formal exams take place at the end of the academic year. A strong emphasis is put on the value of formative assessment and students are always given the opportunity to reflect on their assessments and work out how they could have done it better.


Students are in mixed-ability groups in Year 7, but work is carefully designed at different levels to enable all students to be appropriately stretched and challenged. Form Year 8 to Y11 students are broadly grouped according to assessment outcomes, but a range of other factors may be considered. In Y12 and Y13 students are grouped based on their A-level options.

Key Stage 3

Dronfield Key Stage 3 science curriculum follows the National Curriculum and, where appropriate, stretches students beyond the National Curriculum. The aim of KS3 is to develop fundamental scientific knowledge and investigative skills, and to relate these to real life contexts and the personal experiences of students. Topics are, broadly speaking, divided equally between physics, chemistry and biology, but fundamental concepts and skills are taught to be applied across the academic boundaries. Students complete Key Stage 3 in Year 9, at which point they commence the first units of GCSE AQA sciences that helps inform their decision to opt for AQA separate sciences (Triple Science), or AQA combined science (Trilogy).

Year 7

Year 7 Big Ideas and Sequence

Year 7 introduces the most fundamental scientific Big Ideas and skills that are then deepened and developed throughout key stage 3, 4 and 5. We start with the most fundamental ideas, which are continually revisited as the curriculum spirals. We use icons as a framework explore how the topics interconnect.

Year 8

Year 8 Big Ideas and Sequence

In Year 8 students broaden, deepen and integrate their understanding of the Big Ideas in more sophisticated contexts.

Year 9

Year 9 Big Ideas and Sequence

In Year 9 students are exposed to GCSE content and deepen their understanding of the ideas. The spiral design of the curriculum enables students to explore the same ideas they did in KS3, but in greater depth. The exposure to the GCSE content also enables students to make informed decisions about GCSE options.

Key Stage 4

Approximately 35% of our Year 10 and 11 students study AQA separate sciences: biology, chemistry and physics. Each separate science leads to one GCSE qualification. The remaining 65% of our students study AQA combined science (trilogy), leading to two GCSEs. Within combined science students study the three scientific subjects. Biology, chemistry and physics. Both GCSE options are a potential route to studying A-level sciences or Level 3 BTEC Applied Science.
A small number of students may study for the AQA ELC qualification. This is reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

GCSE Science builds on the fundamental principles and skills taught in Key Stage 3 and continues with the same Big Ideas, but in greater depth and sophistication. Each course covers the same modules, although the separate sciences have some additional topics.

The following documents show the modules and topics covered by both the separate and combined sciences:

AQA Biology Separate and Combined specification

AQA Chemistry Separate and Combined specification

AQA Physics Separate and Combined specification


Students can opt for combined science or triple science at Key Stage 4. Students can opt for A-levels or Level 3 BTEC Applied Science at Key Stage 5.

Key Stage 5

Year 12/Year 13

We offer the following courses at A level:

OCR Biology A
OCR Chemistry B (Salters’ Chemistry)
AQA Physics A

Currently all science students complete AS levels in Year 12. Students can opt to stop at this point or opt to complete the full A-level. However, AS grades will not count towards their final A levels. Practical skills are integrated into the teaching throughout the A level courses and are assessed in written exams. In addition, students will carry out a separate ‘Practical Endorsement’ during Year 13.

Students are also be able to study for L3 BTEC Applied Science Extended Certificate, equivalent to one A-level.

Further details related to these courses and admission can be found on the sixth form area of the website and at the Y12 open evening.

Links to Key Stage 5 Specifications and Course Handbooks

OCR AS & A Level – Biology

OCR AS & A Level – Salters Chemistry

AQA AS & A Level – Physics

L3 BTEC Applied Science Extended Certificate


The Science Faculty has 11 modern laboratories and a dedicated computer room. The faculty has subscriptions to Educake to support homework and assessment at Key Stage 3 and 4. Online textbooks are provided for Key Stage 4 and 5 students using ‘Kerboodle’. The faculty also promotes the use of further reading and informs the reading lists available from the LRC.

Extra curricular activities

As well as laboratory based lessons, we have a full range of “Out of Class” learning activities. These include field trips and industrial visits and a vibrant variety of activities during National Science Week.

Science Club undertakes projects and competitions and does a yearly presentation of their research to parents. Pet and Animal Club has visited local farms and invited guest speakers complete with their animals!

The faculty aims for 6th form students to run a ‘Cafe Scientifique’. This is an opportunity for sixth formers and staff to come and discuss scientific research and issues in the relaxed and informal setting, with visits from professional scientists whenever possible. Speakers in previous years have discussed topics ranging from animal testing in cardiovascular research and biotechnology in botany.

We have strong links with local primary schools, whose classes visit us for laboratory activities and competitions. Henry Fanshawe Science teachers and students also take science lessons into primary schools.


The Science Faculty has a range of young and experienced staff with the full range of specialisms;

  • Mr J Alcock (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Mrs M Billups-Walker (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Mrs K Cant (Key Stage 3 Science Leader)
  • Mrs G Cornthwaite (Teaching Assistant)
  • Mrs T Davies (Deputy Headteacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Miss F Delez (Science Technician)
  • Miss R Gowers (Key Stage 4 Science Leader and Head of Physics)
  • Mr S Hawkins (Curriculum Leader and Head of Biology)
  • Mrs C Hollings (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Mrs R Horsfield (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Miss B Horvath (Science Technician)
  • Dr A Jones (Assistant Curriculum Leader, Head of Chemistry)
  • Miss C Jones (Science Technician)
  • Dr G Keith (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Mr D Osborne (Teacher, Physics Specialist)
  • Miss M Pearn (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Miss A Skinner (Lead Science Technician)
  • Miss H Smith (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Mr P Varley (Teacher, Biology Specialist)
  • Miss L Webster (Teacher, Level 3 BTEC Leader)
  • Mr R Webster (Teacher, Chemistry Specialist)
  • Mr D Welch (Teacher, Physics Specialist)
  • Mrs N Wordsworth (Science Teacher)

Websites to help students learn about Science

Key Stage 3: BBC Bitesize – KS3 Science

Core Science: BBC Bitesize – Core Science

Triple Science: BBC Bitesize – Triple Science

BTEC Level 3 Applied Science: Student Guide

A Level Biology: Nuffield Foundation – Salters-Nuffield Advanced Biology

A Level Chemistry: Department of Education Studies – Salters Advanced Chemistry

A Level Physics: AQA Physics

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