The physics department consists of six qualified physics teachers, and physics is taught as a separate subject to all pupils from year 7 onwards. Emphasis is placed upon whole-class experimental and investigative work. We offer five state-of-the-art laboratories that are exclusively used for physics lessons. They are equipped with laptops and smart devices that can help monitor and log experimental data in real time. Pupils are therefore encouraged to explore their interest in physics through practical work wherever possible.
In the first two years of the senior school, pupils are introduced to the following major themes of Physics: Light; Space and the Solar System; Forces; Energy and Electricity & Magnetism.
Pupils make use of our lab equipment and work through these topics directly. Towards the end of Year 7, and again in Year 8, pupils undertake independent investigations that are designed to develop their analytical skills - applying their knowledge gained from Year 7 and 8. These vary in complexity, and past examples included investigating and presenting evidence for the moon landings and exploring how gears and levers may be designed and realised as simple efficient machines.
In Year 9, we begin the AQA GCSE course, building on the knowledge, understanding and experimental skills already gained from previous years. Pupils begin to link mathematical concepts with experimental observations and are encouraged to develop critical-thinking skills as part of their investigations. Physics becomes an optional subject at this point, though the vast majority continue with Physics as a separate science award up to GCSE level. This is a 3-year linear course, and pupils complete two exam papers at the end of Year 11.
A Level Physics is a challenging, exciting and highly valued subject to explore, and therefore it is a gateway to many university courses and career options. This is a 2-year linear course and follows the AQA specification. Fundamentally, this course is all about learning to solve problems through a combination of critical, creative and logical thinking. The A Level specification builds on several GCSE topics, but goes into far greater depth, with over 40% of the final examination directly assessing mathematical skills.
In the first year of A Level, pupils study Waves; Quantum; Particle Physics; Electricity; Materials and Mechanics. Bridging the gap into year 2, they complete their first year by studying aspects of modern physics such as Special Relativity and the Origins of Quantum Phenomenon. In the second year of the course, pupils delve further into Mechanics; Circular motion and Oscillations; Gravitational and Electrical Fields; Capacitors; Electromagnetism; Thermodynamics and Nuclear Physics. At the end of the course, pupils sit three two-hour papers.
A Level physics is strong currency for many university courses, as it demonstrates problem-solving skills which are useful to the sciences and humanities alike. Physics is also a requirement when wishing to study any kind of Engineering or Architecture and is also highly recommended should you want to study medicine.
Beyond higher education, Physics can lead to a wide variety of careers. In addition to vocational courses such as Engineering, Physics graduates are highly sought after in industries such as law, ICT and finance, where strong logical and mathematical skill sets are considered very desirable.
Science in Action offers pupils the opportunity to undertake some extended science practical work. Ideal for those who love to experiment, investigate and ponder… but without the pressure of any write-ups or exams.
Freed from the confines of the syllabus, Science in Action runs a carousel of biological, chemical and physical science activities, which give pupils the chance to see some of the synthesis, analysis and applied techniques more commonly used in undergraduate laboratories.
Those choosing this course will have the opportunity to work alongside pupils and teachers from other schools and as such develop better communication skills as they form efficient working relationships. There is a degree of responsibility – some of the techniques require careful risk assessment, whilst the quality of products and results will depend upon each pupils' own experimental diligence, as well as their ability to work in a team.
Having undertaken the first year of Science in Action, pupils may apply to carry out an independent research project. With limited places, commitment and aptitude must be shown, but the potential payoffs are huge. Working independently in Warwick School’s research-standard laboratories, pupils have the opportunity to genuinely contribute to the progress of the group’s work and get a privileged insight into the world of scientific research.