Science at Michaela

Pupils learn one science per half-term at Michaela, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in each discipline.

Y7 Biology

Pupils learn about what life is, starting with examples of organisms from different kingdoms, the habitats they live in and their typical diets and behaviours. Pupils explore the adaptations organisms have that help them to survive and reproduce in their environment with an emphasis on competition for limited resources.

Pupils then explore different human organ systems that enable survival and reproduction: the digestive system and the respiratory system are explored in depth with and pupils develop an understanding of the organelles, cells & organs involved. The circulatory system is introduced.

To understand plants, pupils study the leaf as the organ for gas exchange and photosynthesis and the xylem and phloem for transport.

Diffusion and respiration are explored as fundamental concepts in Year 7.

Y8 Biology

Pupils develop their understanding of further organ systems in humans including the skeletomuscular system to develop and understanding of how we move and the reproductive system. This is contrasted to plant immobility and reproduction.

The idea of development from zygote to embryo to complex multicellular organism is explored.
Pupils learn about inheritance and genetics as well as the evidence for evolution.

Throughout, ideas are tied to the link between energy, cells, organ systems and adaptations.

Y9 Biology

Pupils explore cell division and specialisation with the context of the processes which transport substances between them. Microscopy techniques offer practical opportunities for pupils.

These are further contextualised by looking at nutrient acquisition and transport of nutrients in both animals and plants.

An exploration of various disease and health are explored including the human defence system against communicable disease, as well as homeostatic control mechanisms for non-communicable diseases such as diabetes.

Y10 Biology

Pupils explore photosynthesis and respiration in detail to explore the role of energy in life processes.

Pupils explore inheritance and genetics in great depth and this is followed with an exploration of how organisms are related and share a common ancestor. Evolution by natural selection is investigated.

Pupils study ecology to explore ideas about distribution, ecosystems and methods of investigating these.

Y11 Biology

Pupils study homeostatic mechanisms and the nervous system. Finally, pupils explore reproduction: including contraception, IVF and we look more widely at the role of hormones in the human body.

Y7 Chemistry

Pupils start at one of the most fundamental concepts in Science: the particle. From here they build an understanding of everything existing as either a solid, liquid or gas and what causes these changes. Pupils explore how we measure the mass and density of different substances and are introduced to scientific practical work for the first time.

Pupils then explore different types of particles called elements and how these are arranged on the periodic table. Pupils learn about different the different properties these elements have and are introduced to their first chemical reactions, including how to construct word and chemical equations.

Y8 Chemistry

Year 8 Michaela pupils begin chemistry using the Law of Conservation of Mass as a fundamental concept. They go on to apply this concept to the task of balancing chemical equations.

Pupils then explore a range of different chemical equations such as combustion, decomposition and neutralisation reactions. Pupils make observations of these reactions and explore them on a particle and equation level. Pupils have the opportunity to expand their practical skills by carrying out practicals including Bunsen Burners and making salts through neutralisation reactions.

Finally, pupils are introduced to the atom at a more complex level. They delve into the history of the atomic model and how successive scientists have contributed to our understanding. Finally, they use this new knowledge to link to their knowledge of the periodic table and relate the structure of the atom to the information the periodic table presents us with.

Y9 Chemistry

Having gained a strong grasp of key concepts at KS3 through years 7 and 8, pupils are gradually introduced to GCSE level concepts in year 9. Pupils begin by exploring the different types of chemical bond: ionic, covalent and metallic bonding. After learning each type of bonding, pupils link these ideas to the structure and properties of these different substances.

Next, Michaela pupils develop their understanding of reactivity. Linking ideas from KS3 about different groups, the structure of the atom and chemical reactions, pupils explain why some elements are more reactive than others. This links to understanding displacement reactions and their uses.

A fundamental concept which is mastered in year 9 is ionic equations, including ionic half equations. Mastery of this topic place pupils in an excellent position for topics in years 10 and 11.

Finally, Year 9 pupils further their KS3 understanding of neutralisation reactions with their newly gained knowledge of ions and ionic equations.

Pupils practical skills are developed throughout with a range of separating techniques studied including crystallisation and chromatography.

Y10 Chemistry

Year 10 pupils begin Chemistry with an introduction to quantitative chemistry. Calculation of relative atomic mass and relative formula mass makes use of pupils’ strong knowledge of the periodic table from KS3. Many pupils learn the concept of ‘the mole’ and apply this to several calculations used throughout Chemistry.

Pupils then apply their knowledge of ions, ionic equations, reactivity and displacement from Year 9 to the topic of electrolysis. Pupils learn how many elements are separated from their compounds using electricity.

Next, year 10 pupils apply their knowledge of chemical reactions to the topic of energy changes. What is an endothermic and an exothermic reaction? Why do reactions fall into these two categories?

Finally, pupils explore the fundamental concept of the rate of a reaction. They learn what causes a reaction to speed up and what is required to cause a reaction to start in the first place: the activation energy. Many of the ideas taught in year 10 are brought together through Le Chatelier’s Principle which tests pupils’ application of many of the concepts taught.

Pupils’ practical skills are developed through practicals including electrolysis and a variety of ways to measure the rate of a reaction.

Y11 Chemistry

In their final year of Chemistry education at GCSE level, pupils are introduced to the world of organic chemistry; compounds based in carbon. They understand how these compounds are used in everyday life and some of the issues that come with this.

Finally, pupils bring together many ideas taught throughout the course to look at how Chemistry affects our environment and the part we as human beings are playing. How can we reduce our carbon footprint? How can we produce clean drinking water? How do we extract metals from the Earth? And how can we do all of these things better to protect our environment?

Year 11 Chemistry is designed to be shorter in length than the other years in order to maximise time for revision and mastery in the lead up to GCSE exams.

Y7 Physics

In year 7, pupils are introduced to the cornerstones of physics through studying the universe. First they learn what energy really is and how to describe the energy transfers that happen throughout our universe. Next they learn the role that forces play in our universe, from the forces that enable a car to drive to the forces that hold the Earth in orbit around the Sun. Pupils are taught how to use equations in physics and use this knowledge to calculate the weight of different objects on different planets. From there, they move on to learn about the speed, continuing to practice their use of equations. Finally, they are introduced to the electromagnetic spectrum. All of this knowledge is solidified at the end of the year with a trip to the Royal Observatory.

Y8 Physics

Year 8 is when Michaela pupils start getting to grips with electricity! They start by learning about what charge is and understanding the relevance of sub-atomic particles to charge on a macro-level. From there, they learn how to apply their knowledge to explain electrostatic effects, including the fascinating Van Der Graaff generator. Pupils are then introduced to circuits, learning about current and potential difference and practicing making real circuits safely and correctly. They end the unit by returning to the fundamental ideas from y7, but this time expanding on their knowledge of forces and energy to look at the concept of springs and elastic potential energy.

Y9 Physics

Year 9 is where pupils start applying their understanding of physics to GCSE content. This year is all about forces. Pupils study Newton’s three laws of motion in detail, with plenty of exam practice throughout. Within this, they learn a variety of ways to represent, describe and understanding movement. They also start to master the equation techniques which they have been learning throughout KS3, applying their skills this time to acceleration and velocity equations. Pupils also use free-body diagrams as an alternative way to understand motion and the forces that cause it. Speed and distance-time graphs are studied in detail, helping pupils not only with their understanding of this unit but also with their understanding of graphs throughout the subject. Finally, pupils prepare for and carry out an acceleration practical to see everything they have learnt up to this point in action.

Y10 Physics

In the first half of year 10, pupils delve into two of the most fascinating areas of physics – waves and magnetism. They learn how to investigate waves, even when we can’t see them, and they learn the importance of the electromagnetic spectrum throughout our universe. From the basics of magnetism, they develop an understanding of the complex interaction of electric and magnetic fields, eventually learning how magnets and electric current can interact to create movement in the motor effect. Finally, they return to the topic of electricity, building on their prior knowledge with more complex circuits, equations and components.

Y11 Physics

By year 11 pupils have covered most of the physics content required for the GCSE course, freeing up time to go over and practice the skills required to tackle the most challenging questions. Time is spent interleaving calculation questions from across the course, memorising and mastering all the necessary equations and when to use them. Pupils’ understanding of energy, which started with the first physics lesson of year 7 is solidified by studying specific heat capacity and different sources of energy. Finally, the required practicals are revisited: this enables pupils to re-apply their more advanced skills and understanding to previously learnt knowledge.

If you would like to find out more about the Science curriculum, please email