In an environment where scepticism of science has become fashionable, and when new economies are rapidly overtaking Britain in terms of technological advancement and entrepreneurism, there has never been a greater need for a solid scientific education. The Science department at Tonbridge aims to provide this in a way that is practical, enjoyable, interesting and intellectually challenging.
We seek to prepare all boys for life in an increasingly technological society so that, irrespective of their A level choices or future career, they can appreciate, understand, and make informed decisions about topical scientific, social, environmental and ethical issues. Studying science is more than just learning a collection of facts and understanding ideas: it is rather a way of thinking. The mental discipline learnt through the study of sciences is valued by employers of all sorts and thus A level sciences open doors to a very wide range of careers.
The Biology Handbook sports the legend, "On the Shoulders of Giants”. Tonbridge has produced a number of top-level scientists, none arguably more influential to modern Medicine than Norman Heatley, and certainly none more influential to Neodarwinian evolutionary theory than Bill Hamilton. It is our aim to inspire Tonbridgians to similar heights.
Biology is a subject that covers concepts at a wide variety of scales, from the molecular level of cellular biochemistry, through physiology to the study of environmental systems. Biology is a dynamic subject with developments coming thick and fast, rarely does a week go past without new discoveries being made that make the headlines. This is both a blessing and a curse since we must ensure that students critically evaluate the studies behind the headlines.
In recent years students have gone on to study Natural Sciences, Medicine, Biochemistry, Neuroscience and Biological Sciences. Students have consistently achieved more than 70% A-A* at A Level or equivalent and 96% A-A* at IGCSE level or equivalent in recent years.
These numbers, whilst strong, do not show all of what is on offer and we have met with increasing success in Olympiads in recent years and Biology remains one of the most popular subjects when students pick an extended project in the Lower Sixth.
It has become part of the accepted wisdom to say that the twentieth century was the century of physics and the twenty-first century will be the century of biology - Freeman Dyson
Boasting a tradition that produced Nobel Prize winner Derek Barton, the Chemistry department at Tonbridge continues to thrive. Three boys have represented the UK in the International Chemistry Olympiad in the last ten years and many leavers go on to study science at Oxbridge and other top universities.
Experimental work is at the forefront of everything we do in the department from simple separation of mixtures in the first year, through to complex organic syntheses in the Upper Sixth. This is backed up by innovative use of ICT and ‘wet’ demonstrations to ensure pupils leave with a sense of wonder about the world around them. Trips to local universities and visiting lecturers help enhance the experience provided by our well qualified teaching and technical team.
Whilst we believe in more than simple exam results we were delighted when a Tonbridge student was awarded a medal by the Salters Company as the best A-level Chemist in the country. Competitions run by the Royal Society of Chemistry and University taster courses run by Salters also add to the competitions available to boys.
Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.” – Albert Einstein
Physics is the general analysis of the natural world, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves, from a sub-atomic quantum level all the way up to cosmological scales. Throughout their time at Tonbridge students are encouraged to think beyond the constraints of the National Curriculum and we teach them important skills including logical thinking and problem-solving.
Physics teachers with a wealth of experience including previous careers in academia and industry prior to teaching. With dedicated technicians and one of the best-stocked collections of Physics equipment in the country, we put practical work at the forefront of everything we do.
We boast an exceptional record at GCSE and A-Level; over 75% of students at A-Level achieve A or A*, with over 95% achieving grade B or higher. Olympiad results are also strong including Gold medals in all of the top three years.
Physics extends well beyond lessons and the department prides itself on offering one of the strongest extra-curricular programmes in the school. Recent opportunities have included: hosting workshops designed by the University of Cambridge, winning national rocketry competitions, trips to CERN and the Kielder Forest Observatory, particle physics masterclasses at Queen Mary University, winning the Weizmann safe-cracking competition, and regular speakers through the Principia Science Society.
As a result of all the above, Physics is one of the most popular A levels at Tonbridge with a large number of boys reading Physics, Natural Sciences, or Engineering at leading universities.
Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.” - Stephen Hawking