Chemistry is one of the most popular subjects at CRGS with a high percentage of our students choosing to take GCSE Chemistry in Years 10 and 11 and a large uptake of Chemistry at A-Level (usually 90-100 students each year). This reflects a very busy and hard-working department, with very high standards.

A high proportion of our A-Level students are successful in applying to top universities (both in the UK and abroad) for a variety of subjects, such as Chemistry, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Dentistry, as well many other related courses that will benefit from A-Level Chemistry.

The Chemistry department is very well resourced, comprising four fully-equipped modern laboratories, opened in September 2016, one room is equipped with eight computers and all rooms have a SMART board for using the latest ICT resources.

The Staff

There are five full-time teachers of Chemistry:

Mr K Bek-Harding
Mr C Henson
Mr R Neale
Dr R. Rampling (Head of Department)
Mrs M Russell

Our Chemistry courses at a glance

All of our courses include relevant practical chemistry activities where appropriate, many of which are in addition to those required by the GCSE and A-Level courses.

Year 8

Students study chemistry as a separate science from Year 8 onwards, and generally follow the Ascent course material, although extension work is also regularly provided. The course comprises the remaining topics from Key Stage 3 Chemistry, so that GCSE content can be studied from Year 9 onwards. Level descriptors for Year 8 Chemistry are available to download (see the link at the bottom of the page).
Year 8 topic titles include:
  • Formulae & Equations
  • Elements, compounds and mixtures
  • The Periodic Table (including simple atomic structure).
  • Metals and their compounds (including chemical reactions e.g. decomposition, neutralisation)
  • Patterns of reactivity (including reduction and oxidation)
  • Using chemistry (including chemical reactions e.g. combustion, oxidation)
  • Environmental Chemistry
Each topic is tested, and there is an internal exam at the end of the year.

Year 9 – AQA GCSE Chemistry, specification 8462

Students begin the AQA GCSE course in Year 9, and study the following topics:
  • Atomic structure and the Periodic Table
  • Formulae and equations
  • Structure, Bonding and properties of matter
  • Energy changes
Each topic is tested, and there is an internal examination at the end of the year. View more details of the GCSE topics studied in Year 9.

Years 10 & 11 – GCSE Chemistry, AQA syllabus 8462 (continued)

Year 10 continues with GCSE Chemistry.  There is a 1 hour 45 minute end of year examination, covering the GCSE content covered in both Year 9 and 10.

Topics studied in Year 10 include:
  • The rate of chemical reaction
  • Reactivity of metals and metal extraction, REDOX reactions
  • Reactions of acids and salt making
  • Electrolysis and electrochemical cells
  • Quantitive chemistry
  • Chemical analysis

Year 11 Chemistry leads to the GCSE examinations in the summer term, examining content taught in Years 9, 10 and 11.  There are two 1 hour 45 minute written examination papers, covering all the GCSE content (topics are split between the two papers).

Topics studied in Year 11 include:
  • Reversible reactions and equilibrium
  • The chemical industry
  • Introduction to organic chemistry and petrochemicals
  • The atmosphere
  • Further organic chemistry (carboxylic acids, alcohols, aminoacids)
  • Polymers and natural polymers
  • Using Earth's resources

Years 12 Chemistry (AQA specification 7404/7405)

Year 12 begin with AQA AS Chemistry (specification 7404), which is continued to A-Level (specification 7405) in Year 13. View the specification for the AQA AS/A-Level course.
Topics covered in Year 12 (Papers 1 & 2) include:
  • Atomic structure & bonding
  • Amount of substance
  • Periodicity
  • Introduction to organic chemistry (including alkanes)
  • Energetics, kinetics and equilibria
  • Redox
  • Groups 2 and 7
  • Organic chemistry (haloalkanes, alkenes and alcohols)
  • Analytical techniques (including time of flight mass spectrometry and infra-red spectroscopy)


Year 13 A-Level Chemistry (AQA specification 7405)

Year 13 study the AQA A-Level Chemistry course, which continues on from material covered in Year 12 for AS-Level Chemistry. View the specification for the current Year 13 AQA course.

Topics covered in current Year 13 include:
  • Further kinetics and equilibria
  • Acids, bases and buffers
  • Further organic chemistry including the homologous series' aldehydes, ketones, carboxylic acids, esters, acyl chlorides, arenes, amines, amino acids and DNA
  • Polymerisation
  • Structure determination (mass spectrometry, IR and NMR spectroscopy)
  • Further thermodynamics
  • Periodicity
  • Redox equilibria
  • The Transition Metals
  • Reactions of aqueous ions in solution

Practical skills are an essential aspect of chemistry, and are developed during Year 12 and 13.  They are assessed in the written examination papers, testing the knowledge and understanding of a student, as well as the ability to apply it to unfamiliar situations. Certain practical activities are also recorded in the student’s lab book, and assessed, towards them achieving a ‘Pass’ for the practical component of the A-Level.

Our schemes of work are designed to encourage students to gain hands-on practical and data analysis skills, appreciate 'How Science Works' and its relevance beyond the laboratory. This is as well as developing enthusiasm and enjoyment for Chemistry, and studying Chemistry rigorously, but in a contemporary context.

Extra-curricular Clubs, Competitions, Trips & Workshops

To develop those who demonstrate a deeper interest in chemistry, we participate in competitions such as the Chemistry Mastermind Competition (Years 9 – 11) and the International Chemistry Olympiad (Years 12 and 13) and Cambridge Chemistry Challenge (Year 12). Students may also attend a selection of visits to lectures, practical workshops and study days.

Support sessions, Gifted & Talented and Mentoring

To ensure that each student is fully supported in their time at CRGS we offer lunchtime Chemistry 'Support Sessions' for years 9 – 13. There are also after-school extension classes for Year 12 and 13 students (particularly for those interested in the A* grade at A-level, the Chemistry Olympiads/Cambridge Chemistry Challenge, and 'Oxbridge' Entrance). Sixth formers are also involved in mentoring students in the lower school at lunchtimes.