The Salters' Chemistry Course

Work on the Salters’ Chemistry Course, published by the University of York Science Education Group, began in 1983 before the era of the National Curriculum. The starting point was a workshop during which a group of chemistry teachers set out to produce sample lesson materials to show how chemical principles could be introduced through everyday materials and experiences. The success of early trials led to a full-scale project to produce a complete course which would give a sound foundation of chemical knowledge and understanding through an ‘applications-led’ approach. Candidates entered for the first GCSE examinations based on the course in 1988.

Course structure
The Salters' chemistry course was designed as a three-year course for the 13-16 age group. It consisted of 16 teaching units. There were five units for the first year of the course: Clothing, Drinks, Food, Metals, and Warmth. These were accompanied by a textbook called Introducing Chemistry: The Salters Approach. (Note that in the publications these were described as ‘third year units’ because they were intended for the third year of secondary school – now Year Nine.)

The seven units provided for the second year of the course were entitled: Buildings, Food Processing, Growing Food, Keeping Clean, Minerals, Plastics and Transporting Chemicals. For the final, GCSE year, there were four units: Burning and Bonding, Energy Today and Tomorrow, Fighting Disease and Making and Using Electricity. A second textbook was published to cover the whole of the GCSE course.

Design criteria for the course units
* Each topic should have its origin in everyday experience and be developed through the use of familiar substances.
* Chemical theories, principles and generalisations were to be introduced only as they were seen to be needed for understanding of the work being done.
* A substantial level of help for teachers was devised because the approach meant that many units contained relatively unfamiliar material.
* The course was expected to be ‘teacher-mediated’ and was to be presented as guides for the teachers for each unit.
* Particular attention was to be paid to encouraging an interactive teaching approach in which students would be actively involved and which would help to encourage students' study skills and general personal development.



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The Salters’ Chemistry Course began with an introductory first year designed for students aged 13-14 (Year Nine). The publications, from the University of York Science Education Group, included a textbook and five unit guides.


The Salters’ Chemistry Course, published by the University of York Science Education Group, led up to GCSE with a two-year programme designed for students aged 14-16 (Years 10 and 11). The publications included a textbook for the whole course together with seven unit...

The Salters' Chemistry Course: an Overall Guide for Teachers

The Salters’ Chemistry Course Guide, published by the University of York Science Education Group, was written to provide an introduction to the course and to supplement the sixteen unit guides which made up the main body of the course. Some parts were written for...