What is Science?

Below, we explain the science school curriculum.

The dictionary definition of science is, ‘the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.’

Using that definition,

In UK schools, science has been taught in one form or another since the early 19th century but has been taught in universities since the first century. However, it was not made compulsory in both primary and secondary schools until the 1988 Education Act with the creation of the National Curriculum.


In England, science is split into 3 main disciplines; Biology, Chemistry and Physics.


The word biology is derived from ‘bios’, a Greek word meaning life. Overall, the study of biology can be split into: (a) physiology (living systems), (b) botany (plants) and (c) zoology (animals).


The word chemistry is thought to come from the Arabic word ‘alchemy‘. It is the study of natural and man-made compounds and elements.


The word physics comes from the Greek word ‘physika‘, meaning nature. It is the study of mechanics (motion), optics (light), quantum (particles) and sonics (sounds).

Science is taught from year 1 all the way through to GCSE. The subjects are not split until KS4. until then they are simply taught as science. Every year group has a specific set of topics that are taught.

Primary Science

KS1 Science:

Year 1 Year 2
Plants Animals including humans
Animals including humans Animals including humans
Everyday materials Living things and their habitats
Seasons Uses of everyday materials

KS2 Science:

Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Year 6
Plants Living things and their habitats Living things and their habitats Living things and their habitats
Animals including humans Animals including humans Animals including humans Animals including humans
Rocks States of matter Properties and changes of material Evolution and inheritance
Light Sound Earth and space Light
Forces and magnets Electricity Forces Electricity

Secondary Science

KS3 Science:

Below is a rough guideline of what is taught in KS3 science across KS3:

Topics Year 7 Year 7/8 Year 8 Year 8/9
Forces Speed Gravity Contact forces Pressure
Electromagnets Voltage and resistance Current Electromagnets Magnetism
Energy Energy costs Energy transfer Work Heating and cooling
Waves Sound Light Wave effects Wave properties
Matter Particle model Separating mixtures Periodic table Elements
Reactions Metals and non-metals Acids and alkalis Chemical energy Types of reaction
Earth Earth structure Movement
Organisms Movement Cells Breathing Digestion
Ecosystems Interdependence Plant reproduction Respiration Photosynthesis
Genes Variation Human reproduction Evolution Inheritance

GCSE Science:

GCSE Science is compulsory but there is the option to take either combined science or triple science. In most cases, the school will determine which one each child takes.

In England, approximately 75% of students take double/combined science. In fact, many schools do not offer triple science as an option (sometimes it is simply because the school does not have the capacity to offer both triple and double).

If you are thinking of a career in engineering, medicine or any science-related research or industry, then you will usually be required to take individual science GCSE.

Often, children will move to 6th form college to take A-level science. You can still take individual A-level science having taken double science, but it will be harder, given that each subject will not have been covered in as much depth.

Triple Science vs Double Science

Many students see triple science as too much work and feel that most universities don’t care whether it is double or triple science GCSE. Oxbridge will most certainly acre, as will most universities if you are looking to pursue a degree in one of the sciences.

Double Science

This is sometimes called combines science. This was introduced in 2006 and is different from the old “Double Science” in that the new combined science covers all three sciences, whereas the old double science only covered two sciences.

Students study all three sciences but will only be awarded 2 GCSEs. Obviously, it will not be in as much detail as the triple science option as it will cover ⅔ of the course content. The grade awarded for the two GCSE’s is based across all three sciences.

Triple Science

This is where each of the three topics is covered and tested individually, with grades awarded based on only that subject.

For a full breakdown of each subject and topic, please use these links:




A strong maths base is important for a high grade in science.

The four key maths areas are:

• algebra

• data handling

• mathematical/calculation computation

• graphs

How can I help my child at home?

In science, KS3 is the biggest stepping stone to GCSE science, yet most parents wait until their child is in year 10 before giving science any serious thought.

To help your child achieve their best results in science, the key is to start early enough so that the child has the confidence that they have the strategies to help through GCSE science.

The following steps will certainly help:

The fun stuff:

1 – Make sure that your child does not see science as a textbook exercise- take to the natural history museum or the science museum, for example.

2 – Watch programmes like The Blue Planet.

3 – Listen to science podcasts- there are some for every taste, including a Harry Potter alternate universe!

The serious stuff:

1 – Make sure that your child has understood that they have learnt in KS3 (a little end of term revision will go a long way!)

2 – Ask the science teacher for additional help in areas that are proving challenging

3 – Search online for additional explanations.

How can Redbridge Tuition help?

At Redbridge Tuition, science lessons begin in year 7. In years 7 to 9 (Key Stage 3) science is combined, so the classes are 1 hour per week and include all three sciences.

In years 10 and 11 (Key Stage 4), science is split into three subjects; biology, chemistry and physics and are taught separately. Again each class is 1 hour per week.

Our classes are in small groups and the sessions are teacher-led and topic-based.

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