A Statement of Intent for Science
Learning science provides all students with the opportunity to think and learn, develop an interest in, and curiosity about the world around them through exploratory and investigative experiences and activities.
In particular, science offers our students opportunities to develop an awareness of, and interest in, themselves and their immediate surroundings and environment. Students conduct practical activities that link to ideas, for example doing and thinking. They use their senses to explore and investigate and develop an understanding of cause and effect. Students gain subject knowledge that will prove essential for life after school and are encouraged to develop independent thinking through scientific enquiry.
We know that our young people learn most effectively through their first hand experiences. Through our science programmes we therefore ensure that experiential and purposeful learning is at the heart of our planning and that students are constantly encouraged to think about and reflect upon both the familiar and the unfamiliar. Through this they make the connections that build their scientific understanding and fascination.
Working Scientifically is a key strand in young people’s development as scientists and the teaching of these crucial skills is fully integrated into their learning across biology, chemistry and physics. In building experience in scientific enquiry, students have the opportunity to acquire skills through the following:
Students are assessed in Working Scientifically throughout KS3 and KS4 on a number of key skills. Scientific enquiry is embedded alongside subject content and assessment is carried out through practical tasks that are relevant to the topic being taught with students progressing from Learning Pathway 1 through to Learning Pathway 10.
Students are assessed on their progress in Working Scientifically from the very beginning of their journey at Fairmead. In the lower primary phase, this assessment focuses on early developmental goals that relate to learning with a science theme. We may, for example, identify that a child is beginning to notice differences or listening to songs and rhymes that relate to their science learning. Moving into upper primary, assessment may highlight progress made in describing what we see and beginning to connect this to what we already know.
In the upper school, students may raise a question, plan and conduct an investigation, record results, then evaluate and draw conclusions. An example of this is investigating how the rate of a reaction is affected by concentration in the topic of ‘How fast, how slow?’ covered in KS4. As students are able to demonstrate skills competently, they progress through the pathways.
Planning for sequential learning
Our long term coverage of science through the phases links to the national curriculum. We believe that breadth in learning is essential in order not to deprive our young people of opportunities to explore wider areas of science and to find out where their interests and strengths may lie. Nonetheless, as our programmes for learning show, we place greater weighting on those areas of science that hold greatest value in everyday life and life in the workplace.
The national curriculum has been modified to provide all students with relevant and appropriately challenging work at each key stage. In Key Stage 4 there are 3 possible flight-paths that students may take, each leading to a different individually challenging accreditation that our young people can carry with them into future learning and employment.
EYFS and Lower Primary
Science in lower primary classes is covered in the 'Understanding the World' area of the EYFS Curriculum. It is introduced through themed approaches relating to stories and books and other elements of topic based learning taking place across their early years curriculum. Activities encourage students to explore, problem solve, observe, predict, think, make decisions and talk about the world around them. Through these experiential and relevant learning opportunities, children begin to develop the early skills of scientific enquiry, becoming increasingly inquisitive with regards to the world around them and the experiences they have.
In upper primary, students start to follow the National Curriculum content and continue to build on the skills and subject knowledge that they acquired in lower primary. Students are encouraged to start questioning, reasoning, classifying and grouping, and seeking answers. They are taught to use simple scientific equipment to carry out basic investigations and experiments as they continue to build skills for scientific enquiry.
In KS3, students are taught in the specially equipped science laboratory where they have access to scientific apparatus such as bunsen burners, glasswear, chemicals, electric circuit equipment, force meters and dissection equipment. Content from the National Curriculum for science KS2 is covered with practicals conducted frequently with a focus on scientific enquiry taught over a 2 year rolling programme. Students are taught for 2 lessons per week. In KS3 students build on the subject knowledge base that they have acquired throughout primary school. They start to plan experiments and consider how changing variables will affect the results. Students start to develop method writing and are taught how to collect results through observation. Linking and applying scientific knowledge and understanding to everyday life is encouraged, for example to cooking to their own health.
In KS4, students follow one of 3 flight-paths. The lower KS4 students cover WJEC Science Today Entry Level. This provides opportunities for students to learn key life skills that are related to science. Topics include health and safety, plant care and animal care. Students are assessed through objective related work completion.
Upper KS4 students complete the OCR Entry Level qualification leading to accreditation entry level 1, 2 or 3. This is more focused on the topics of biology, chemistry and physics and allows for the possibility of going on to sit AQA GCSE Combined Trilogy Science at the end of Year 11. Students are assessed by a short test paper taken at the end of every unit. Students are taught for 3 lessons per week.