The reputation that Chemistry earns of being a hard IGCSE is usually dispelled in the weeks before the final exams in Year 11. As the pieces of the jigsaw start to fit for the pupils - at last - they see that there is method to what once appeared to be madness, and they actually begin to enjoy the subject. This has led to more and more pupils choosing the course at A Level and where once there was one group, now there are two.
With this expansion comes the need to make sure that all pupils have access to the best equipment and that they have individual quality time in the lab. The A Level "Core practicals" are a way of ensuring that pupils all around the world have reached the required standard of practical expertise in order to be able to enter a university laboratory and get on with it.
Our first cycle of A Level students to face the new two year linear course have just finished their Year 13 final exams and they will go off in September with all of the fundamental knowledge, practical and otherwise, to succeed at university. They’ve broken some glassware on the way, but they made it. These pupils are a formidable group and will be a hard act to follow. They have impressed with their impeccable work ethic, tremendous energy and unrelenting drive. They are the type of pupils who will enter the scientific community and make a difference, rather than entering the financial sector and making money. I am in awe of their promise and I wish them well.
The current Year 12 are also very able, with more than their fair share of flair and wackiness. They have faced the challenges of the first year of the course and have had the advantage, given that they have not done the AS exams, of starting the Year 13 material before summer. This means that they are well ahead in the game, and will finish in plenty of time to prepare for their exams in June 2019. Teaching them is like trying to tame a wild horse, but we will persevere and they will do very well, I am sure!
Farewell to the Train
One more big farewell - to our Science labs in the train. In true Banksy style, over the last few years the outgoing Year 13s have left their mark by drawing their favourite molecule on the wall of the Chem Lab. I was hoping to take these with us when we left, but that's not possible and it is with great sadness that the department leaves what has been its home for the last 20 years. The new laboratories are going to be the perfect stage on which to play out the continued expansion and success of the department in years to come.