Curriculum – Physics

Curriculum – Physics

Physics

The Curriculum

Curriculum Intent

At SHSG our students journey through a rigorous and challenging physics curriculum that will enable them to uncover and explore the most fundamental laws governing our universe. We meet the ambitions of the National Curriculum, but go beyond this, challenging our students in the context of a high-performing grammar school.

In physics lessons, students will learn about matter and energy and will examine their behaviours in contexts such as electricity, magnetism, and waves. As our students progress through their studies, they will develop a deeper appreciation for how physics permeates their life, gaining an awareness of energy resources, the mechanics of everyday interactions and the underlying nature of matter in the world around them. In their studies they will utilise and refine both critical thinking and high-level numerical skills that will prepare them for whichever future aspirations they so choose. The super-curricular opportunities afforded to our students, including a robotics club and trip to CERN, allow them to delve into the applications of physics beyond the classroom. Our students will learn to rationally approach and investigate new hypotheses and develop a thorough grasp of logical processing and scientific method, which will set them apart as exceptional innovators and problem-solvers. The skills they gain in studying physics at SHSG will give them the conviction to approach life boldly, confident in their ability to coherently and effectively tackle any problem that they might encounter.

What does it feel like to be a student in the Physics Department?

Studying Physics at Southend High School for Girls will inspire you to become insightful, enquiring citizens of the world with highly sought-after skills. During lessons, you will be encouraged to dig deep, to examine the origin of the physical laws which govern our Universe, and to apply these laws to a variety of real-life contexts; to accomplish this, you will utilise your mathematical skills, apply your own knowledge of the real world and your imagination to both visualise and fully understand the behaviour of matter and energy. You will collaborate with other students to investigate physical laws in practice, forming hypotheses, then developing and refining your practical and analytical skills in our Physics laboratories.

Students at SHSG are not passengers in their own learning. You will take the driving seat, working towards success with our specialist teachers and with specialist equipment in our fully equipped Physics laboratories. Peer mentoring is encouraged, as well as providing teacher support between lessons at our weekly lunchtime Physics Open House.  We have carefully selected and embedded the use of monitored online platforms which are proven to support student progress, including Kerboodle, Tassomai and Isaac Physics. We have long-standing links with companies offering work experience and the Engineering Development Trust (EDT) who offer industrial placements and university-based taster courses. Numerous opportunities for trips and activities beyond the classroom are available each year, including competing in the national Physics Olympiad competitions, engineering lectures, Robotics Club, and our flagship trip to the largest science experiment in the world: CERN, in Geneva, Switzerland. There are also opportunities for leadership roles within our Science Captain team, to work together to promote Physics across the wider school community, as well as arranging competitions and Science Week activities.

Students who study Physics at SHSG build a secure foundation on which to successfully progress to a variety of post-18 pathways. In recent years, we have prepared students to study a variety of degrees, including Physics at the University of Oxford, as well as a variety of Engineering pathways, Physics with Quantum Technologies, Computer Science and Architecture.

We are extremely proud of our alumni and work closely with them, expecting our current students to aspire to the same success. Through investigative practical work, our students leave having gained an insight into the evidence-based ethos which underpins the wider scientific quest to improve our understanding of the universe in which we live. It is our sincere hope that our Physics students continue on as life-long learners, making positive contributions with their hard-earned skills and knowledge.

Journey

Physics Curriculum

At Southend High School for Girls we teach a curriculum that is ambitious and takes students on a learning journey beyond the National Curriculum for Physics. The SHSG Physics curriculum is what we believe will expose and challenge students to a cultural capital in Physics that is the best that has been thought and said in this subject.

Our  subject curriculum is carefully organised to take our students from their end of primary school point to the higher outcomes at the end of Year 9

The Physics curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Year 7 – 9

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from Year 6 Physics ready to study in Year 7 if applicable

During their Upper KS2 studies as per the National Curriculum, students should have studied topics including: working scientifically, properties and changes of materials, Earth and space, forces, light and electricity. All of this knowledge is revisited and drawn upon at KS3

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the ambitions of the National Curriculum, and as a Grammar school, also challenge students beyond the National Curriculum. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our Physics intent. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 7

Term 1

Topics

  • Introduction to Science and Physics
  • Forces: Speed & Gravity

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions. 
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check KS2 understanding. 

Term 2

Topics

  • Energy: Energy Stores & Transfers
  • Waves: Sound & Light

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions. 
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check KS2 understanding. 

Term 3

Topics

  • Electromagnetism: Voltage, Resistance & Current
  • Energy: Energy Costs

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions. 
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check KS2 understanding. 
  • KS3 End-of-year examination.

Year 8

Term 1

Topics

  • Forces: Forces, Pressure and Moments

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions. 
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check KS2/Year 7 understanding

Term 2

Topics

  • Electromagnetism: Circuit Review, Magnets & Electromagnets
  • Energy: Work, Heating & Cooling (into term 3)

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions. 
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check KS2/Year 7 understanding. 

Term 3

Topics

  • Waves: Light, Hearing & the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions. 
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check KS2/Year 7 understanding. 
  • KS3 End-of-year examination.

Year 9

Term 1

Topics

  • Maths Skills for GCSE Physics
  • Waves: Wave Properties and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions. 
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check Year 7 and 8 understanding. 

Term 2

Topics

  • Forces: Displacement, Velocity & Acceleration
  • Energy, Power, Specific Heat Capacity and Efficiency

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions.
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check Year 7 and 8 understanding. 

Term 3

Topics

  • Electricity: Properties of Electric Circuits, Electrical Power and Energy Resources
  • Space: Solar System and Stars (from 2025)

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments using exam-style questions.
  • Pre-topic diagnostic assessments to check Year 7 and 8 understanding. 
  • KS3 End-of-year examination 

Achieving outstanding outcomes in physics knowing and remembering even more that what is expected of a grammar school KS3 curriculum. 

In KS3 we assess student progress and attainment against the degree to which students have secured the key knowledge, skills and understanding that have been defined as being essential within each subject for a given year. (see above) 

When reporting student progress this will be determined by the quality of work being produced at that point within each subject given the context of this selective grammar school.  Progress will be reported according to the following standards: 

  • Working beyond expected year standard 
  • Working at expected year  
  • Working towards expected year standard 

To go beyond what is expected of a physics student in KS3 students should students should read widely, engage in watching Ted Talks, complete research and experiments at home, and learn key language and subject-specific terminology. 

Recommended reading in Physics for Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • Sciencemag.org
  • Discovermagazine.com
  • Popsci.com
  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • TED Ed: The Physics of the Hardest Move in Ballet
  • TED Ed: Einstein’s Miracle Year
  • TED Ed: The Physics of Surfing
  • Fuse school
  • Revision monkey

Physics-specific language to master in Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • All required technical terminology can be found in the KS3 Glossary on the KS3 padlet

Recommended reading in Physics for Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • Sciencemag.org
  • Discovermagazine.com
  • Popsci.com
  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

At Southend High School for Girls we teach a curriculum that is ambitious and takes students on a learning journey beyond the National Curriculum for Physics. The SHSG Physics curriculum is what we believe will expose and challenge students to a cultural capital in Physics that is the best that has been thought and said in this subject.

Our subject curriculum is carefully organised to take our students from their end of primary school point to the higher outcomes at the end of Year 11

The Physics curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from lower school Physics ready to study in Year 10 if applicable

  • Lower school physics covers the following topics:
    • Forces: speed & gravity, contact forces & pressure, displacement, velocity & acceleration.
    • Waves: basic properties & sound, light & the electromagnetic spectrum.
    • Energy: energy stores & transfers, energy costs & renewable energy, work, heating & power, power & efficiency.
    • Electricity: voltage, resistance & current, circuit properties.
    • Fields and Magnetism: magnets & electromagnets
    • Space Physics

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the ambitions of the National Curriculum/Specification, and as a Grammar school, also challenge students beyond the National Curriculum/Specification. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our Physics intent. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 10

Term 1

Topics

  • Particle Model of Matter
  • Atomic Structure
  • Electricity: Circuit Properties

Assessment

Sectioned end-of- topic assessments 

  • Section A: Skills for GCSE Physics 
  • Section B: Topic Assessment 
  • Section C:  ‘throwback’ assessment of a past topic 

Term 2

Topics

  • Cont’ Electricity: Circuit Properties
  • Energy: Stores and Transfers
  • Waves: Properties and the Electromagnetic Spectrum

Assessment

Sectioned end-of- topic assessments 

  • Section A: Skills for GCSE Physics 
  • Section B: Topic Assessment 
  • Section C:  ‘throwback’ assessment of a past topic 

Term 3

Topics

 

Assessment

Sectioned end-of- topic assessments 

  • Section A: Skills for GCSE Physics 
  • Section B: Topic Assessment 
  • Section C:  ‘throwback’ assessment of a past topic 
  • KS4 end-of-year examination

Year 11

Term 1

Topics

  • Electricity: Domestic Uses and Static Electricity
  • Forces: Applications of Forces

Assessment

Sectioned end-of- topic assessments 

  • Section A: Skills for GCSE Physics 
  • Section B: Topic Assessment 
  • Section C:  ‘throwback’ assessment of a past topic 

Term 2

Topics

  • Waves: Lenses, Exploration and Detection
  • Magnetism: Electromagnets and The Motor Effect

Assessment

  • PPE

Sectioned end-of- topic assessments 

  • Section A: Skills for GCSE Physics 
  • Section B: Topic Assessment 
  • Section C:  ‘throwback’ assessment of a past topic

Term 3

Topics

  • Space Physics
  • Revision for GCSE exam

Assessment

Sectioned end-of- topic assessments 

  • Section A: Skills for GCSE Physics 
  • Section B: Topic Assessment 
  • Section C:  ‘throwback’ assessment of a past topic 
  • GCSE Examinations 

Achieving outstanding outcomes in physics  knowing and remembering even more that what is expected of a grammar school KS4 curriculum. 

In KS4 we assess student against the core content and assessment objectives as outlined by the relevant GCSE examination board specification.  For physics this is AQA 8463To go beyond what is expected of a physics student at GCSE and achieve outstanding outcomes in physics students should read widely, watch Ted Talks, engage in scientific research and experimentation outside of the classroom, and learn key language and subject-specific terminology. Students should relish the challenging nature of Physics and not be afraid of making mistakes, students will learn to recognise that making mistakes is an opportunity for learning. Good mistakes are therefore celebrated in physics as they lead us towards greater understanding. 

Recommended reading in Physics for Middle School (Years 10 – 11)

  • Sciencemag.org
  • Discovermagazine.com
  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
  • New Scientist magazine (Subscription through school)
  • Scientific American
  • 17 Equations that Changed the World – Ian Stewart
  • Antimatter – Frank Close

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Middle School (Years 10 – 11)

  • TED Talk: Have we reached the end of physics?
  • TED Talk: This telescope might show us the beginning of the universe
  • TED Talk: How we explore unanswered questions in physics
  • TED Ed: Turbulence: one of the great unsolved mysteries of physics
  • TED Ed: Why do hospitals have particle accelerators?
  • GCSE Physics Padlet
  • Physics and Maths Tutor
  • GCSE Physics Online

Physics-specific language to master in Middle School (Years 10 – 11)

  • Subject-specific key word lists can be found under the ‘glossaries’ section of the GCSE Physics Padlet

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from KS4 Physics ready to study in Year 12 if applicable

  • Understanding of the fundamental big ideas in Physics covered at GCSE: Forces, Motion, Energy, Electricity and circuits.
  • Basic particle ideas related to the atom and electrons.
  • Calculative skills related to graphs and equation manipulation
  • Practical skills related to electricity, forces and GCSE practical keywords

Transition from KS4 – KS5

  • Y12: Transition activities being set via Isaac Physics to support students for the jump from Y11-12. These activities consist of sets of higher-level GCSE calculations which are self-marking, which are set before embarking on the A level content for each section of the specification. Progress on these questions is tracked and is built into the scheme of work for both teachers.
  • Y12 and 13: Homework ‘SkillBuild’ exam question packs with a ‘little and often’ approach to develop exam skills continuously.

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the ambitions of the National Curriculum, and as a Grammar school, also challenge students beyond the National Curriculum. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our Physics intent. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 12

Term 1

Topics

  • Maths Skills for Physicists
  • Measurements and their errors
  • Electricity
  • Mechanics

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments (with synoptic elements) 
  • Isaac Physics homework assignments 
  • Skill-Build exam question homework packs (diagnostic). 

Term 2

Topics

  • Mechanics cont.
  • Electricity cont.
  • Materials
  • Waves

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments (with synoptic elements) 
  • Isaac Physics homework assignments 
  • Skill-Build exam question homework packs (diagnostic)

Term 3

Topics

  • Particles and Radiation
  • Quantum Phenomena 

Assessment

  • PPE 
  • End-of-topic assessments (with synoptic elements) 
  • Isaac Physics homework assignments 
  • Skill-Build exam question homework packs (diagnostic). 

Year 13

Term 1

Topics

  • Further Mechanics
  • Fields and their consequences

Assessment

  • A Level Physics Paper 1 Baseline Assessment 
  • End-of-topic assessments (with synoptic elements) 
  • Isaac Physics homework assignments 
  • Skill-Build exam question homework packs (diagnostic)

Term 2

Topics

  • Fields and their consequences cont.
  • Thermal Physics
  • Nuclear Physics
  • Option module: Engineering Physics

 Assessment

  • PPE 
  • End-of-topic assessments (with synoptic elements) 
  • Isaac Physics homework assignments 
  • Skill-Build exam question homework packs (diagnostic)

Term 3

Topics

  • Nuclear Physics cont.
  • Option module: Engineering Physics cont.

Assessment

  • End-of-topic assessments (with synoptic elements) 
  • Isaac Physics homework assignments 
  • Skill-Build exam question homework packs (diagnostic). 
  • A Level Examinations

Achieving outstanding outcomes in physics knowing and remembering even more that what is expected of a grammar school KS5 curriculum. 

In KS5 we assess student against the core content and assessment objectives as outlined by the relevant A Level examination board specification.  For physics this is AQA 7408CTo go beyond what is expected of a physics student at A Level and achieve outstanding outcomes in physics students should read widely, both within and beyond the course specification. Students can further their knowledge by watching scientific Ted Talks and conducting further research. They should also dedicate time to learning key language and subject-specific terminology

Recommended reading in Physics for Upper School (Years 12 – 13)

  • How to teach Quantum Physics to Your Dog by Chad Orzel
  • Alice in Quantumland by Robert Gilmore
  • A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking
  • The Elegant Universe by Brian Greene
  • Why does E=mc2? by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw
  • Just Six Numbers by Martin Rees
  • Quantum: A Guide for the Perplexed by Jim Al-Khalili
  • Black Holes, Wormholes and Time-Machines by Jim Al-Khalili
  • For the Love of Physics by Walter Lewin
  • New Scientist magazine (school library has a subscription)

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Upper School (Years 12 – 13)

  • The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast
  • Guardian’s Science Weekly
  • Institute of Physics (IOP)
  • The Particle Adventure
  • TED: Is Our Universe the Only Universe? by Brian Greene
  • TED: How we explore unanswered questions in Physics by James Beacham
  • TED: Search for planets beyond our Solar System by Sara Seager
  • TED: This telescope might show us the beginning of the Universe by Wendy Freedman
  • The Curious Cases of Rutherford and Fry, BBC podcast

Physics-specific language to master in Upper School (Years 12 – 13)

  • The Particle Zoo
  • Quantum Physics key terminology