We equip our pupils with a wide body of knowledge and skills that allows them to develop an awareness of the implications of chemistry for the individual, society and the environment. We encourage pupils to understand and use the scientific method, and develop informed opinions and be able to support them with reasonable arguments.
The department works on developing girls’ scientific knowledge throughout school life, with Chemistry taught from Junior 7. We offer Higher and Advanced Higher Chemistry, as well as the Science Baccalaureate which provides excellent preparation for studying at university.
What we study in Chemistry
In S1 and S2, pupils examine different states of matter and learn how substances combine to make new compounds. Pupils acquire basic investigation skills, such as planning effective experiments, carrying them out safely and evaluating their work. The girls also have regular opportunities to design their own investigations and present their findings to the class.
In S3 and S4, we are embracing the new Curriculum for Excellence National 4 & 5 qualifications. This allows us to cover a range of chemistry topics, including; Chemical Changes and Structure, Nature’s Chemistry and Chemistry in Society. The National 5 course will be a great preparation for Higher Chemistry in S5.
In S5, the girls work towards their Higher Chemistry exam and coursework. Higher Chemistry is both a popular and challenging qualification, and one which Craigholme pupils perform exceptionally well in; the current pass rate for Higher Chemistry is 92%.
Advanced Higher Chemistry is always one of the most popular courses in S6, and pupils learn to use in-depth and independent study to research their investigation. To achieve success at this level, pupils must be proficient in scientific writing, as well as analysing and interpreting results in a critical manner. These skills prepare our girls well for higher education. The pass rate in Advanced Higher is always impressive with 100% pass this year, and 67% A passes.
We also offer the opportunity to complete The Scottish Baccalaureate in Science in Sixth Form. It is based on a coherent group of subjects at Higher and Advanced Higher level with the addition of the Interdisciplinary Project, which offers added breadth and value and helps to equip the candidate with the generic skills, attitudes and confidence necessary to make the transition into Higher Education and/or employment.
Beyond the classroom
At Craigholme, we encourage girls to fulfil their potential by trying out new and exciting opportunities. We try to offer as many of these opportunities as possible — here are a few examples of what Craigholme pupils in the Chemistry Department have achieved in the last year, and what new pupils have to look forward to:
♦ J7 Chemistry Club
♦ Halloween with the Nursery
♦ Salter’s Chemistry Camp
♦ SCIS Masterclass at St Andrew’s University
♦ RSC Bill Bryson competition
♦ RSC Chemistry Olympiad
♦ Salters’ Festival of Chemistry
♦ National Science and Engineering Week Annual Competition
♦ Visiting lecturers and workshop from University of Glasgow and Robert Gordon University
What our pupils say about Chemistry
"I chose chemistry because it’s fun and enjoyable! The experiments are so good!” Molly Hart (S3)
“I chose chemistry because it’s fabulous J and it’s also really fun!” Rebekah Kerr (S3)
"I chose chemistry because it’s magenes-afent!” Fiona Bell (S3)
“I took Advanced Higher Chemistry because I enjoyed the practical work in Higher Chemistry and Advanced Higher Chemistry offers a lot of practical work in terms of experiments and an investigation where you will spending a lot of time working in the lab. I also need Advanced Higher Chemistry to get in to the course I want to do at university.” Iqra Saleem (S6)
“I chose chemistry as it opens up a wide variety of job opportunities, such as pharmacy, biochemistry, dentistry and medicine. I also particularly enjoy the practical work.” Kirsten Buchan (S6)
Meet the staff
Mrs Arthur, Head of Chemistry
Mrs Arthur is originally from Dundee, and studied Medical Biochemistry at the University of Glasgow. After graduating, Mrs Arthur travelled across Europe, Asia and Australia. She has worked in a number of schools, and has been with Craigholme since 2009 as a teacher of Chemistry and was appointed Head of Chemistry in 2011. Mrs Arthur is currently working as an Appointee for new SQA National Qualifications.
Mrs Cameron, Teacher of Chemistry
Mrs Cameron came back to teaching after various careers, including working as an editor in scientific publishing at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and as a computer engineer for high profile IT companies. Her science teaching experience includes teaching overseas and working at a large Scottish comprehensive for many years. She is an SQA marker for Advanced Higher Chemistry projects. A keen musician, in her spare time she plays violin in the St James’ Orchestra and has now joined the ranks of the Craigholme School orchestra.
Scholar — an online learning resource
BBC bitesize — for J7–S5 pupils
Doc Brown — a wealth of information for S3–S6 pupils
Chem4kids — for Junior School pupils
Creative Chemistry — for Junior School pupils
RSC – Royal Society of Chemistry
SQA – New National Qualifications in Chemistry
‘Nationals in a Nutshell’ National 4 – a brief outline of the new National 4 course content and assessment.
‘Nationals in a Nutshell’ National 5 – a brief outline of the new National 5 course content and assessment.