Chemistry is taught within an introductory Combined Sciences curriculum in Year 7 and by subject specialists from Years 8 to 13. GCSE begins in Year 9. Chemistry maintains its important position in school curricula as it is the science of the molecular scale, and it is at the molecular level that major advancements are being made in areas such as medicine, nanotechnology, new materials, and the environment. It follows that a firm understanding of Chemistry is required in order to participate in these exciting developments.
Girls follow either the single Chemistry or Trilogy programmes from the AQA, with some Mayfield embellishments designed to ensure that the girls find the subject interesting and motivating. On completion, every pupil will have been prepared for further study of this or other closely related subjects, should they so choose. Learning centres on introductions to atomic structure, reactivity, bonding and substance property, in both inorganic and organic worlds, often explored through experimentation. The mole concept and the calculation of ‘how much’ is contrasted with ‘how fast’ before these ideas are applied to everyday contexts, environmental issues, and interesting industrial processes, old and new.
At A Level, the Department has chosen the OCR Chemistry A specification because of the experimental and problem-solving approach it facilitates. The greater level of detail and depth of knowledge at this stage reveals the sub-divisions of the subject in to physical, organic and inorganic domains, each with its own emphasis on particular types of content and interpretative skills. It is the acquisition of technical, analytical, numerical and critical thinking skills that is so highly valued, and leads to Chemistry A Level students being sought after by Russell Group universities, degree courses and a wide variety of careers.
Chemistry is taught in purpose built, subject specific laboratories with interactive white boards, supported by a specialist technician. As well as contributing to the activities provided by the Science Department, Years 10 and 11 can join extension activities such as Chemistry Adventures, while the Sixth Form can work towards and take part in the elite Chemistry Olympiad competition, and attend a spectroscopy field day at a university department.
Ralph Cowan, educated locally in Lewes and at Oxford, joined us in September 2019, coming from Ashford School, where he had been Head of Science for ten years. Prior to this, he was Head of Chemistry at Brighton College, and at Caterham School, and for variety, Science Faculty Leader k12 at International School Manila, a leading American curriculum school. At Mayfield he is delighted to be able to concentrate on the teaching of his subject, with a focus on problem solving, independent learning and experimentation, experienced where appropriate, through the lens of information technology.