• Chemistry students at LRGS (photo: Jill Jennings, Lancaster University)
  • Sixth Form Chemistry students


Chemistry is concerned with the behaviour of atoms, molecules and other particles. Its study is fundamental to an understanding of the material world and Chemistry has contributed to the production of new materials for engineering. The application of chemistry has resulted in the development of modern medical techniques and many believe that the next great discoveries in medicine will come via Chemistry.

The Chemistry department is at the forefront of bringing a wide variety of teaching and learning styles into the learning experience. Practical work is central to the teaching of Chemistry and is incorporated throughout the course, with pupils developing a wide-range of skills.

Chemistry is an extremely successful and popular subject with large numbers of pupils choosing to continue to study to A-level. Achievement by pupils is high at both GCSE and A-level.

Chemistry - Staff Overview

The Chemistry Department has a number of well-qualified and enthusiastic teachers:

Mr M A Ryan MA, Merton College, Oxford, MA, Cumbria, FRSC, CChem, CSci, CSciTeach, ACIEA. Mr Ryan is Head of Department and is a Sixth Form tutor.

Ms N Thomas, Technician

Mr A D King MA, Christ Church, Oxford, MRSC - Mr King is Housemaster of Storey House, the junior boarding house. 

Mr T C Matthew BSc, MSc, Manchester - Mr Matthew coordinates the hockey teams in school and is also a Sixth Form tutor.

Mrs C L Rushton MChem, Pembroke College, Oxford - Mrs Rushton is a Year 10 and 11 tutor.

Mr D E Yates MChem, Durham – Mr Yates is one of the LRGS rowing coaches and is a Sixth Form tutor.

Email Chemistry Department staff

11+ Curriculum

Chemistry in the Lower School follows the National Curriculum, using the Heinemann scheme with additional enhancements to add interest and challenge for the pupils. The teaching order followed is:
Year 7 - particle model of solids, liquids and gases, solutions, acids & alkalis, simple chemical reactions
Year 8 - atoms & elements, rocks & weathering, compounds & mixtures, the rock cycle

Chemistry - 13+

Years 9 and 10

Chemistry is followed by all pupils in Year 9 and the course is designed to be both challenging and interesting. From Year 9 onwards, the boys are working towards the GCSE (AQA).

  • Particles, atomic structure and calculations,Bonding and structure,Air and water,The Periodic Table, Acids and alkalis, Making salts, Metals, Rates of reaction, Crude oil and fuels

Year 11

This is the final year of the AQA 1/2 Certificate in Chemistry. This is an “iGCSE-style” course with rigorous examinations and no coursework element.

• More organic chemistry

• Ammonia

• Electrolysis

• Analysis

Chemistry - Sixth Form

Sixth Form Curriculum

As the central science, Chemistry is a highly-valued subject for many and an essential subject for others. The subject provides a sound basis in scientific thinking and numerical skills. It is considered central in the science spectrum, supporting the study of physics and engineering on one side and the biological sciences on the other. It is important that anyone intending to study Medicine at university should understand that almost all medical schools state that a good A-level in Chemistry is part of their entrance requirement.

What does the course consist of?

There are three major areas of Chemistry: Physical, Inorganic and Organic. Overarching these is the practical aspect of Chemistry.  

The old practical examinations and coursework have now gone, there is a requirement to complete a portfolio of specified practical work. This will allow access to the “endorsement” as well as providing training for the Paper III which will contain questions based on practical experiences.  

The school has chosen not to take the optional AS examination at the end of the Lower Sixth but this does not allow for any slackness during that year. The L6 organic chemistry provides the foundations for the more advanced work in U6 and a good understanding of the basics is vital. Similarly, the inorganic topics of the L6 contain factual information that must be retained into the U6. Physical chemistry (thermodynamics, rates, equilibria etc) starts off as an extension of existing qualitative knowledge but develops into a more quantitative understanding when we apply mathematics to such well-known concepts. We will be able to answer questions like, “Why does water have a pH of 7 at 25 oC”, “Why do endothermic reactions occur?”.

What are lessons like?

Brilliant! The Chemistry department is at the forefront of bringing a wide variety of teaching and learning styles into the learning experience. On average, one double lesson per week is devoted to practical work. The theory lessons might involve some traditional teacher-led learning and note-taking but could just as likely involve some internet activity or group work. Independent and inter-dependent learning is encouraged. The main object is that we want to help you to achieve the maximum of your potential.

6th Form Extra-curricular Projects

Chemistry Olympiad
The Royal Society of Chemistry organises the Chemistry Olympiad and a number of students from LRGS prepare for and take part in the competition each year. This is aimed at U6 boys.

C3L6 is an ongoing online challenge that culminates in challenging examination in June of the L6.

Guest Speakers
We have had a number of successful visits from speakers from universities and elsewhere. Recent topics have included ‘Atmospheric Chemistry’ and ‘The Chemistry of Smell’.

Sixth Form FAQs:

Do I need to do Maths and Physics?
No, but many find that these subjects hang well together.

Is Chemistry difficult?
Yes. By many measures it is considered to be the most difficult A-level. This is not because any one part of it is particularly hard but rather a reflection that in order to be good at Chemistry you need to have many skills and be good at most of them. That is why a Chemistry qualification is so welcomed by universities and employers. Don’t let that put you off – the challenges can be overcome!

What can Chemistry lead to?
Chemistry and chemical engineering are the obvious areas but other career routes following on from A-level Chemistry include: medicine, veterinary science, biochemistry, biology, microbiology, ecology, pharmacy, pharmacology, oceanography, biotechnology, materials science, metallurgy, engineering, agriculture. These are all probably fairly obvious but did you know that there is a surprisingly high correlation between Chemistry and Accountancy?

Where can I find out more?
Your own Chemistry teacher or Science teacher will be able to help. University prospectuses (either on paper or online) might give some clues. The Royal Society of Chemistry is keen to encourage young chemists and can offer help and advice. Their website is www.RSC.org (don’t include “.uk” unless you want something rather different!). Watch out for other “ologies” that can follow on from an interest in Chemistry. One good tip would be to visit the website of one of the big universities and just see the vast range of things they do.

Take a look at the @LRGSChemistry Twitter feed.