The Physics Department at Rugby has a strong tradition of national curriculum development contributing to the development of the Nuffield Physics scheme in the 1970s and the Salters Edexcel A Level course in the 1990s. More recently the department was involved in developing the Cambridge Pre U syllabus as an alternative to A Level and our sixth cohort will be taking these exams in 2015.
Staff here are highly experienced, qualified and enthusiastic about Physics education. Currently there are seven teaching staff and three highly skilled full time technicians in the department with a variety of backgrounds ranging from academic research in cosmology to space robotics.
The Department is very generously resourced in terms of space and equipment and we are located across three floors of the Science Schools; consisting of four Lower School laboratories, three Upper School Laboratories, a spectral laboratory, a project laboratory ,a seminar room, three prep rooms and numerous storage facilities as well as access to the Foxcroft Lecture Theatre. Each teacher has office space in our central administration area. We also have access to the recently refurbished Temple Observatory which houses the historical 8¼" refracting telescope.
In the Lower School we teach the Edexcel IGCSE Physics course to all of our students (with six sets taking triple award and one set taking double award typically). We believe that this is a more rigorous academic route than the UK GCSE qualifications and provides our students with a good grounding for taking Physics further in the Sixth Form. There is a good balance between practical work and theory in our courses and our teaching schemes and cross set tests ensure that we can provide consistency in both our teaching and assessment.
In the Upper School we now teach the Cambridge Pre U course to all of our students. Not only does the Pre-U course provide an excellent preparation for Physics and Engineering based degree courses but also allows students to access the D1 grade which is above the A* A Level grade. All students studying Physics in the Upper School must study some Maths alongside Physics.
The department runs numerous lectures and trips. Recent visits have included a residential Lower Sixth trip to London for the Perspectives in Physics conference, and a trip to skydive in a wind tunnel.
We also organise events for teachers and students from other schools. For more than 25 years we have hosted the Institute of Physics Rugby Meeting, the largest meeting of Physics teachers in England, typically attracting over 150 delegates. In 2015 we will host a residential project called ‘Extreme Physics’ for the sixth time; aimed at inspiring about 100 Year 10 students from state and independent schools through a series of challenges and inspirational lectures and visits during the Easter break.
In addition, there is a regular Further Physics evening session for those Lower Sixth students who want more than classroom courses; the course covers special relativity, cosmology and quantum physics. In the summer term of the Lower Sixth we begin Oxbridge preparation for those students applying to read Physics and Engineering related subjects. We encourage students to participate in national competitions such as the Physics Olympiad where we have had much recent success.