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.
Scientific enquiry 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 scientific enquiry 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 5.
An example of this would be a student raising a question, planning and conducting an investigation, recording results, then evaluating and drawing conclusions from these. An example might be to investigate 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 is set out in the following documents and the content links to the national curriculum. We firmly believe that breadth in learning is essential in order not to deprive our young people of the opportunities to explore all areas of science and to find out where their interests and strengths may lie. Nonetheless, as the programmes 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. Material from earlier key stages has been used to ensure that learning is at the right stage for all individuals. OCR Entry Level science covering biology, chemistry and physics is taught within KS4, with some students going on to sit AQA GCSE combined science. Learning that takes place in each phase has a very different feel and focus that is matched to both the age and stage of learners:
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 the OCR entry level qualification leading to accreditation entry level 1, 2 or 3, with the possibility of going on to sit AQA CGSE combined Trilogy science at the end of Year 11. Students are taught for 3 lessons per week. In KS4 students build on the subject knowledge and scientific enquiry skills that they acquired in KS3. They are taught how to identify variables and plan and conduct simple experiments independently that result in a fair test. Students are taught how to write a simple risk assessment and draw conclusions from the results collected. They are encouraged to create a prediction based on their prior knowledge and observe simple patterns in their results. Students move from description to explanation of events and phenomena and lessons are related to the importance of science in everyday life and the future.
Relationships to other subjects
The teaching of science contributes to students’ development of language since speaking, listening, reading and writing are, to varying degrees, integral to all lessons. The teaching of science provides the opportunity to apply mathematics by measuring, choosing and using appropriate units, constructing graphs, tables and diagrams, using simple formulae, data collection, determining class intervals and calculating the means of a set of data.
The teaching of science contributes to develop ICT capabilities through the use of the internet to research information and can also provide opportunities for the use of word processing. Students are taught to identify reliable sources of information and are encouraged to question material to ensure its accuracy.
Science links closely with PHCSE with regards to reproduction, microbes and disease, inheritance and selection and keeping fit and healthy.