It is the aim of Christ’s Hospital physics department that all pupils should experience a positive and rewarding introduction to the fundamentals of this broad subject. This must, of course, be accomplished within the context of the examination requirements but we should never feel inhibited from following a particular enthusiasm or train of thought, allowing the physics to develop naturally from the context. Good physics, we believe, is more about being able to apply understanding to new situations than about learning specific examples by rote.
However, we are aware that pupils need to feel a sense of direction and it is therefore important that we have a framework of topics within which we work. This is the purpose of our year plan and it should ensure that every pupil covers the necessary material. Clearly, each class has a different dynamic and those who pick up the concepts quickly will have more time to spend on other ideas which may include some extended design projects to deepen their understanding.
Without doubt, this approach will allow pupils to see the excitement of a subject which goes from the smallest things in the universe to the largest, irrelevant of whether they wish to continue physics beyond IGCSE although, presently a significant proportion of pupils do.
We are lucky to have a combination of physicists and engineers teaching at Christ’s Hospital which allows pupils access to a variety of backgrounds to help answer questions or just talk through their possible higher education options.
We have four dedicated physics labs alongside various project rooms including two blackout rooms for performing optical experiments to a higher degree of accuracy. It has always been the philosophy of science teaching at Christ’s Hospital that pupils should learn through doing whenever possible and this still continues. Interestingly, the move to IGCSE which has no coursework has actually freed us up to do more practical work as we no longer have specific tasks to accomplish.