The Science Faculty is the largest and one of the most successful departments in the school. The department teach in a new, self-contained Science centre consisting of 12 purpose built laboratories, 2 preparation areas and 3 breakout zones of 8 computers. All Science staff at The Downs School are committed to providing a balanced science education to students of all abilities, from age 11 years to age 18 years. Every student receives a thorough and rounded education in Science and is given encouragement to succeed to his or her potential. The department comprises 13 teaching staff and 4 technicians. The staff work as a team and carry out responsibilities across the department.

Key Stage 3

Year 7 and 8 follow the ‘Activate’ program with access to online resources via both kerboodle and The Downs Moodle pages, covering all areas of science and developing experimental skills. Whilst year 9 study a foundation to GCSE course encompassing Biology, Chemistry and Physics as more separate disciplines, content is taken directly from the AQA GCSE program of study and provides a solid start to studying Science of higher demand. A purpose built Moodle page exists for year 9 students covering content, revision and a variety of activities for learning.

  Autumn Spring Summer
Year 7 Introduction to Secondary Science and Working Scientifically; Activate B1.1 Cells; Activate C1.1 Particles and their behaviour, Activate P1.1 Forces. Activate B1.2 Structure and function of body systems; Activate C1.2 Elements, Atoms and compounds; Activate C1.3 Reactions; Activate P1.2 Sound. Activate B1.3 Reproduction; Activate C1.4 Acids and Alkalis; Activate P1.3 Light; Activate P1.4 Space
Year 8 Activate B2.1 Health and lifestyle; Activate C2.1 The Periodic Table; Activate C2.2 Separation techniques; Activate P2.1 Electricity and Magnetism. Activate B2.2 Ecosystem Processes; Activate C2.3 Metals and Acids; Activate P2 .2 Energy Activate B2.3 Adaptation and Inheritance; Activate C2.4 The Earth; Activate P2.3 Motion and Pressure
Year 9 AQA B1 Cell Biology (structure and transport), AQA C1 Atomic structure, AQA P8 Turning points in Physics AQA B3 Organisation in plants & animals, AQA C2 The Periodic Table, AQA P1 Energy transfer by heating and energy resources. AQA B4 Organising plants and animals, AQA C5 Chemical changes, AQA P5 Forces in balance

Combined Science courses continue at Key Stage 4 but the higher achievers at Key Stage 3 are offered the opportunity to study the separate sciences, GCSE Biology, GCSE Chemistry and GCSE Physics.

Key Stage 4

The courses offered at GCSE are as follows:

  • A significant number will study the three separate science courses of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, leading to a separate grade for each of these three. This will be an accelerated course and therefore offered to higher achievers at KS3.
  • All other students will study all Science A and then either an Additional Science or Additional Applied Science course during Year 10 and 11 respectively, leading to separate GCSE qualifications in each.

The combined Science route, in addition to covering the core material as specified in the National Curriculum for Science, encourages students to develop investigative skills in a number of areas. These skills include planning, analysing, evaluating, problem solving and communicating. For the Additional Applied Science course students study how Science is applied in the real world.

All options are practically-based and students learn through experiment. In addition there will be numerous opportunities to appreciate the everyday applications of the issues which are being studied. The use of ICT will be integral to the delivery of these courses at all levels.

Assessment Details:

NB these may be subject to change following a government review. Throughout the course, practical skills are assessed in addition to a knowledge of biological, chemical and physical aspects of science, as well as Applied Science in Year 11.

Science A

2 Terminal exams at the end of Year 10 (objective style questions) 75%, Coursework Assessment during Year 10 25%

Additional Science

3 Terminal exams at the end of Year 11(objective style questions) 75%, Coursework Assessment during Year 11 25%

Additional Applied Science

3 Unit tests assessed at the end of Y11 50%, Coursework portfolio 50%

Details of Exam specifications and web links:

Science A, AQA 4405

Additional Science A, AQA 4408

Additional Applied Science A, OCR J251


Level 2 Health and Social Care

In the UK, Health and Social Care is a broad term that relates to integrated services that are available from health and social care providers. As a subject discipline, Health and Social Care (H&SC) combines elements of psychology, sociology, biology, nutrition, law and ethics. All students studying health and social care will be expected to take part in some work experience.  Your professional conduct during your work experience is essential as you will be representing The Downs School.

KS4: BTEC Level 2 TECH Award in Health and Social Care

The Pearson BTEC Level 1/Level 2 Tech Award in Health and Social Care is for learners who wish to acquire knowledge, understanding and technical skills through vocational contexts as part of their Key Stage 4 learning. The qualification recognises the value of learning skills, knowledge and vocational attributes to complement GCSEs. The qualification will broaden the learner’s experience and understanding of the varied progression options available to them.

Areas of Study

The Tech Award gives learners the opportunity to develop sector-specific knowledge and skills in a practical learning environment. The main focus is on three areas, which cover:

-              skills and processes, such as interpreting data to assess an individual’s health, and designing a plan to improve their health and wellbeing

-              attitudes, namely the care values that are vitally important in the sector, and the opportunity to practise applying them

-              knowledge that underpins the effective use of skills, processes and attitudes, including human growth and development, health and social care services, and factors affecting people’s health and wellbeing.

This course builds on and uses the knowledge and skills you learn in your GCSEs, such as English.

Compulsory core units

Unit 1 ‘Human Lifespan Development’ In this component, you will study how people grow and develop over the course of their life, from infancy to old age, this includes physical, intellectual, emotional and social development and the different factors that may affect them. An individual’s development can be affected by major life events, such as marriage, parenthood or moving house, and you will learn about how people adapt to these changes as well as the types and sources of support that can help them.

Unit 2 ‘Health and Social Care Values’ This component will give you an understanding of health and social care services and will help you develop skills in applying care values which are common across the sector (some of which are transferable to other sectors that involve interactions with clients or customers).

Unit 3 ‘Health and Wellbeing’ In this component, you look at the factors that can have a positive or negative influence on a person’s health and wellbeing. You will learn to interpret physiological and lifestyle indicators and what they mean for someone’s state of health. You will learn how to use this information to design an appropriate plan for improving someone’s health and wellbeing, including short- and long-term targets. Additionally, you will explore the difficulties an individual may face when trying to make these changes.

Skills Developed

You will develop a range of transferable, technical, practical and study skills, which you will be required to apply in vocational contexts. These include written and oral communication, research and project management (providing an opportunity to work as part of a team and/or individually and plan effectively before undertaking a task), meeting assignment deadlines, building on Personal, Learning and Thinking Skills (including the development of creative skills), preparing and designing role plays/presentations (identifying the importance of showing understanding in a clear and effective way).

You will probably enjoy this course if you have an interest in careers in Nursing, Midwifery or Childcare or prefer a mostly coursework based course.  Students with an interest in Psychology or Social Science may also enjoy this course.  This course fits in well with other programmes of study such as PE and Science.

Assessment Details

1 Human Lifespan Development (Internal Coursework) – 30%. 

2 Health and Social Care Values (Internal Coursework) – 30%

3 Health and wellbeing (External synoptic task) – 40%

Progression to Post 16 Studies/Training/Careers

The Edexcel BTEC Level 1/Level 2 TECH Award in Health and Social Care provides a good foundation for learners for progression onto further education.  Achievement at Level 2 provides a suitable foundation for further study within the sector, supporting progression on to other vocational qualifications at Level 3, such as the BTEC Level 3 Nationals in Health and Social Care.

Recommended text books, revision guides and reference books

Level 2 book - 978-1292200927

Level 2 revision guide 978-1292245614


Key Stage 5

Students can study any of the separate sciences, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Psychology, Applied Science which covers aspects of Biology Chemistry and Physics or Health and Social Care. 

Level 3 BTEC Applied Science

What are the main features of this course?

The BTEC Level 3 Extended Certificate in Applied Science is a two year course that introduces a variety of science concepts in a vocational context. As such students on this course will study fundamental concepts in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics as well as the philosophical basis of science and how science and scientists are affecting society today and in the future

How is the course assessed?

Through a mixture of exams, externally set and marked assignments and internally set and marked assignments.

Who should study this course?

Students who are not studying Sciences at A-level, but still enjoy science and may wish to follow a career that requires scientific skills. Students ideally need at least six grade 9-4 grades at GCSE including grade 4 in English Language, grade 4 in Maths and either a grade 4 in two separate sciences or grade 4 in Combined Science.

Where can I go next?

Students can progress onto higher level studies at university in a range of subject areas depending on the other subjects studied alongside this extended certificate.

Basic structure of the course:

Year 12

Unit 1 Principles and Applications of Science I

(90 GLH)



Unit Practical Scientific Procedures and Techniques

(90 GLH)



Year 13

Science Investigation Skills

(120 GLH)



UNIT 9 Reproduction and Regulation



Who will teach me?

You will have 4 lessons every week. The style of teaching will be different to what you are used to at GCSE with a greater amount of independence.  There will be times when you have formal science lessons and practical work, however, there will also be times when you will be researching topics and completing assignments and this must be done independently often with “relaxed supervision”.

Recommended text books, revision guides and reference books

Almost all content is on OneDrive (students have access)

Level 3 book: 978-1292134093

Revision guide is not recommended.


Level 3 BTEC Health and Social Care


This course will provide you with an education in health and social care that forms a basis for progression to undergraduate studies and a range of careers in the health and caring services. You will also acquire knowledge and skills that are transferable to enable you to meet changing, and often challenging circumstances.

You will be study 4 units over a two year period, with 2 mandatory units being covered in year 12. 2 units are assessed internally (assignment based) and 2 units are assessed externally (examined). This means that you must complete all of the assignments in these units at a minimum pass level to qualify for the qualification.

Completion of the BTEC level 3 Extended Certificate will provide you with 60 UCAS credits which can be counted towards the required credits for your application to higher education studies (1 GCE A Level equivalent).

If you choose to complete the BTEC Level 3 Certificate (the one year course), you will complete 3 mandatory units which will provide you with 30 UCAS credits (1 GCE AS Level Equivalent).

You will be assessed through assignment completion (a maximum of 2 assignments per internally assessed unit) for which you will achieve a Pass, Merit, or Distinction. A pass grade in all assignments is a minimum requirement in order for you to complete the course successfully. This is in addition to externally set examinations.

You will be expected to take part in discussions, role plays, presentations and independent research. You will also be required to supply a range of written evidence to demonstrate that you have met the necessary criteria; these will include reports, PowerPoint presentations and extended writing.

The BTEC extended certificate in Health and Social Care course is divided into two years. In year one, this will comprise of 2 units all assessed separately according to the criteria set by the examining boards.

The 2 modules for year 1 are:

  • Unit 1 – Human Lifespan Development
  • Unit 5 – Meeting individual care and support needs

There is a wide range of choices for the additional units completed during year 2 of the extended certificate course; year 2 will include the following:

  • Unit 2 – Working in Health and Social Care
  • Unit 14 – Physiological disorders and their treatment

Students must pass ALL units (including externally assessed) to achieve an award under new BTEC criteria.

Any BTEC student will need to be dedicated and committed to their course. As a Health & Social Care student you will need to be focused and have a good attitude towards study; being committed doesn’t just mean turning up to lessons, it means reading and studying outside of class too.

It is recommended that you spend at least 5 hours a week outside lesson time on Health & Social Care private study.  Clearly the demands will vary according to how much work is set.  It is vital that you develop good study habits from the beginning of the course and your behaviour reflects the attitude that is expected of any professional working within the health and social care sector.

Studying Health and Social Care can lead to further study and a range of career opportunities, such as: advice worker, personal advisor, charity officer, civil service administrator, counsellor, FE lecturer, health promotion specialist, health service manager, local government administrator, nutritional therapist, physiotherapist, probation officer, social worker, lifestyle consultant, nurse, health care assistant, care support worker, learning support assistant and nursery worker.

Recommended text books, revision guides and reference books

Almost all content is on OneDrive (students have access)

Level 3 book 978-1292126012

Revision guide is not recommended for level 3







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