two students playing with a bunsen burner

Chemistry is everywhere: we are, basically, a selection of chemicals, and everything around us is made up of chemicals.

We aim to give all students a thorough and secure background in Chemistry in order to become the scientifically literate adults of the future. The teaching of Chemistry at KEHS places a large emphasis on practical work, which brings Chemistry alive, enthuses students and also helps their understanding of the subject. Students are encouraged to think and question their understanding, and they are stretched and challenged at all levels of their education. Dedicated and enthusiastic teaching ensures that students develop a knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, which they can relate to everyday life and technological advances, such as industry, the environment, pharmaceuticals and fuel cells.

In Chemistry, after initial work relating to safety and basic apparatus, students in Year 7 look at the various ways that chemicals and the changes associated with them are classified. Topics include physical and chemical changes, elements, mixtures and compounds and metals and non-metals.  

In Year 8 the various sources of chemicals and their reactions are studied by looking at the air and water. Chemical formulae and equations are used throughout this year and beyond.    

In Year 9, the department starts GCSE work with an in-depth look at the theory of Chemistry, with students studying atomic structure and bonding as well as the practical topics relating to salts and ion tests.   

In the study of Chemistry there is a large emphasis on practical work, particularly in Year 7 and Year 8. Through the underlying themes, within the subject, the students develop a knowledge and understanding of everyday life. The students work in small groups as part of a team as well as independently. Teaching approaches may include: group experiments, individual experimental work, teacher demonstrations, class discussions and the use of videos and problem solving situations.

Taking GCSE Chemistry offers numerous benefits as it aims to foster curiosity, interest, and enjoyment in the subject. By studying Chemistry, students will gain knowledge of its principles and vocabulary, while also developing their understanding of the scientific method with a strong emphasis on safety. The subject provides a broader perspective by placing Chemistry in the context of a wider body of knowledge and skills, allowing students to form reasoned arguments supported by scientific understanding. Students will explore the implications of the subject on various aspects such as the environment, technology, economy, ethics, and society. The content covers important topics like atomic structure, bonding, quantitative chemistry, chemical changes, energy changes, and organic chemistry, offering a comprehensive understanding of the subject and its practical applications in analysing the atmosphere and utilising resources efficiently.
Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry are studied across both years of the Sixth Form, with extensive practical work linked to all three areas being undertaken. Most of the topics studied in Year 12 are developments of topics already encountered at GCSE, including atomic structure, bonding, calculations and Organic Chemistry. In Year 13, the students’ knowledge and understanding of Chemistry is developed further and the mathematical aspects of the subject have greater emphasis. Further Organic Chemistry, entropy and transition metals are some of the topics studied.

Future Careers

Chemistry is essential for careers in medicine, veterinary science, dentistry, pharmacy, forensic science, materials sciences and food sciences.

Beyond the classroom

Students of all ages take part in a variety of local and national competitions including Top of the Bench Challenge and RSC Analyst Competitions. Each year Sixth Formers also have the opportunity to attend a series of lectures at the University of Birmingham designed to make students think beyond their specification.

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