Chemistry is part of the core curriculum from First to Fifth Form, and is an especially popular choice in the Sixth Form, with over 70 students studying the subject across the two year groups. The department follows the CIE Pre U syllabus, which is led by exploration and lateral thinking, rather than just factual learning in isolated scenarios. Pupils who select to study the subject in the Sixth Form are encouraged to think beyond the syllabus and to challenge the very principles of the subject.
An enthusiasm for the subject among pupils in the First to Third Forms is developed early via the Junior Chemistry Club, an extension activity run out of lesson time which features exciting, hands-on experiments. The Chemistry Academic Extension Group is an informal gathering of pupils every fortnight when pupils discuss questions that aim to extend their understanding into an advanced level of thinking of the subject.
A Quadrivium course offered to the Lower Sixth Form looks at 'How Chemistry changed the world in six experiments', where pupils synthesise drugs ranging from paracetamol to phenacetin, the dyes methyl orange and malachite green and some triboluminescent materials.
The department encourages pupils to participate in national competitions; many able students have participated successfully in the annual Chemistry Olympiad competition, and have four times reached the finals of Top of the Bench, a national competition run by the Royal Society of Chemistry. In 2016, the School came fourth in the national competition, which is their second best ever result. In 2017, we entered a team of four Second Form pupils into the Salters’ Festival of Chemistry, which was hosted at Leicester University, and selected Lower Sixth Form pupils had great success in the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. One individual won the prestigious Roentgenium Award, presented to the top 0.7% of all entrants, and in the same year, he participated in the RSC Chemistry Olympiad, scoring a Gold award. He was then invited to attend a selection day at the University of Cambridge to represent the UK team in the International Olympiad.
With the completion of the new SciTec project in 2016, the department facilities have been extended to include a project room with equipment that rivals many modern commercial research laboratories. Within the facility, pupils are able to carry out their own unique research. Previous projects include the synthesis of possible anti-aging drugs and the effect of substitution in heterocyclic rings in azo dyes. Pupils also carry out smaller research projects, allowing them to extend their own interests in the subject.
Members of the Chemistry Department are often found out in the wider East Northamptonshire community giving demonstration days to the local public.
Mr J Peverley
Head of Department