Pupils study physics as a separate subject from Year 7 onwards. All lessons are taught by physics specialists in well-equipped physics laboratories and we put a strong emphasis on practical work.
We encourage students to develop increasing independence – essential for success in the world beyond school – and aim to inspire them to become the next generation of scientists and engineers.
Physics aims to describe, understand and predict processes in the material world, and is foundational for other branches of science and technology. An understanding of physics is a valuable asset in an increasingly technological world.
We develop students who are inquisitive; keen to investigate and equipped with practical skills to do so; confident asking questions and articulating their understanding; able to apply the scientific method of enquiry; and who appreciate the broader relevance of the subject.
Enjoyment of the subject and the reward of success at IGCSE leads many to go on to study physics in the Sixth Form.
- Learning journey - Years 7 and 8
In the Lower School, we lay a foundation of fundamental physical concepts. In Year 7 the focus is on forces and materials, and in Year 8 we major on energy, electricity and space. The course is structured to develop basic skills in scientific investigation and to encourage a questioning frame of mind.
- Learning journey - GCSE
In the Middle School students’ understanding of the themes of physics becomes increasingly deep and sophisticated.
In Year 9, pupils commence the IGCSE course (CIE 0972), laying the foundations with waves, forces, energy and concepts in electricity.
Year 10 introduces kinetic theory, thermal physics and electromagnetism, and has a greater focus on mathematical formulation in mechanics and electricity. A trip to the Physics at Work exhibition at the Cavendish Laboratory gives the pupils an appreciation of the relevance of physics and of possible career options.
The course finishes in Year 11 with radioactivity and nuclear physics, electronics and electromagnetic induction.
- Providing stretch
Students wishing to take their learning further can undertake research in related topics from exploring why diamonds show ‘fire’ to researching how redshift helps us measure the age of the Universe.
We support students taking part in external challenges such as the GCSE Physics challenge, in which ten Perse students achieved a Gold medal in 2017, and the BPhO Experimental Project. In 2016, 28 Perse sixth formers qualified for Round one of the British Physics Olympiad, and eight of them earned gold awards, placing them in the top 150 in the country, with four of these in the top 50. Two were in contention for the teams for the International Olympiads, and one was selected to take part in the International Astronomy and Astrophysics Olympiad, in India.
- Beyond the classroom
Students hear regularly from eminent physicists, both through our own 42 programme of speakers or on trips, such as to the Cambridge Physics Centre Lectures at the University’s Cavendish Laboratory and the Big Bang Fair. Recent visitors to the School include Ian McKernan, CEO of Molecular Products, who spoke about the application of technology in advanced manufacturing.
A weekly after-school club for Years 7 to 9, Science Club, provides an opportunity to carry out fun practicals such as identifying what gives fireworks their colour, extracting DNA from fruit, making bath bombs and conducting experiments with light. For those in Years 9 and 10 who are keen to undertake experimental investigation we run Perse Science Investigations. There is also a weekly Physics Challenge Club for Middle School pupils.
STEM Club for Year 11 students and sixth formers meets weekly to encourage students intending to study STEM subjects at university to make links between the different sciences. Members enjoy presentations on scientific research and careers from members of staff and external speakers, debate science issues in the news and hear from Perse students about science summer school experiences or research placements. Lower Sixth pupils have the opportunity to undertake research in Materials Science and to submit their work for the TATA Materials Prize.