Science is taught through an ‘enquiry’ curriculum, which aims to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. It builds on children’s skills and knowledge as they move through the school, integrating national curriculum programmes of study. An over-arching, challenge question links subjects cohesively giving meaning and purpose to children’s learning, in order to provide children with the following aims:
The ‘Prime Learning Challenge (PLC)’ question then leads to smaller, subsidiary challenge questions, which promote and develop scientific enquiry and skills. It is important that these smaller, ‘bite-size’ questions make sense to the children and are within their range of understanding, for them to develop scientific knowledge, understanding, natural processes and scientific vocabulary. For example, Year 1 PLC, ‘Why are humans not like tigers?’ This is then followed by subsidiary challenge questions, such as, ‘Why do we call some animals wild?’, ‘Why are humans different to most other animals?’ and ‘What do we mean by carnivore, herbivore and omnivore?’
Teachers are able to tailor their planning to the individual needs of their classes, using weekly or blocked units by involving children in developing or leading their own learning challenges, which informs preconceptions and misunderstandings children might have in keys areas of Science, but also deepening their understanding of the ‘Science’ concepts embedded in the topic.
The Learning Challenge provides continuity and progression built around the objectives, skills and knowledge laid out in the new curriculum within the programmes of study for Science. This allows us as a school to have greater autonomy over what to teach and how to teach it, whilst ensuring that the essential skills expected of each year group are still being covered, through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. As the challenges devised are wide ranging and cross-curricular, they are deliberately chosen to promote deep thinking and encourage children to understand how science can be used; to explain what is occurring; predict how things will behave and analyse causes.
This gives teachers the scope to use the cross curricular links and teach other subjects, within the smaller ‘bite-size’ questions, giving opportunity to link with other core and non-core subject areas.
We ensure that pupils enjoy their work by making the work accessible to all children, by making learning real through research and the use of ICT, websites and sources on the Internet bring alive the subject. Independent research, analysing findings, fair testing as a group or pair, discussion and presentations of work on investigations are an integral part of Science. Displays are often seen as ‘a work in progress’ where children are encouraged to add their own questions or interact with the questions asked by teachers or other children and contribute with research and facts.
Children and staff can now use the Seesaw app to showcase the learning taking place within science lessons and send photographs and/or videos of this to parents. These are stored and can be used as evidence of practical investigations and hands-on learning.
From Year 1 to 6, Science is taught for between 1 - 2 hours weekly which allows the learning challenges to encompass the various other subjects that are appropriate to the subsidiary questions. Year Reception teach are taught science under the ‘Understanding The World’ theme of the EYFS curriculum.
The needs of SEND children are met through various means including the use of differentiated work, the support of learning support assistants or mixed ability pairings as appropriate, or through practical, hands-on activities. For example, SEND children may record their findings of an investigation using an I-Pad.
Areas taught across the school
How the subject is assessed
Progress in monitored continually by teachers and teaching is adjusted accordingly, during each Science Learning Challenge. At the end of each PLC, it is suggested that the last lesson is for reflection, allowing the children to bring their knowledge and understanding of the topic together. This can be shown in a number of ways, for example, the use of ICT to create a presentation or simply by the children sharing with the rest of the class something they have learnt. However, it is encouraged for some level of reflection to take place at the end of each subsidiary challenge question. Much of the learning covered in Science is kept hands-on and multi-sensory, therefore providing practical learning so that skills can become embedded and so ensure concrete understanding of scientific concepts. Recording of scientific testing and use of vocabulary is promoted through a variety of engaging and challenging tasks, which allow teachers to judge the progress of children’s learning and give children an opportunity to evaluate their own learning.
At the beginning of each topic, children are given a quizlet to complete to assess their knowledge. Once the topic is completely taught, the children complete the same quizlet. This should help to show progress and assess how well the children have understood the area of science.
Assessment for learning through questioning and verbal discussion is an area that the school is working hard to promote and enhance to develop SEND and G&T children. Teachers use on-going diagnostic assessment, using the discrete Scientific skills outlined in the new national curriculum and assess children’s skills and knowledge at half termly intervals. The results of assessments are inputted onto Insight, shared with the SLT and passed on to the subject leader.
In the Foundation stage, learning is initiated from the child’s own knowledge and assessment of children’s knowledge is measured through the steps made in the EYFS profile and is evidenced in the children’s learning journals (SeeSaw), in a floor book and close observations by the teachers.
Monitoring, evaluation and review
Planning is of a high standard overall, and shows clear objectives and outcomes with good use of a range of resources and techniques to enrich Science as a subject. The nature of the Learning Challenge questions allows teachers to vary teaching techniques and embrace different subjects whilst maintaining a clear plan for progression through the discrete objectives laid out in the new curriculum for Science.
Displays are often presented as an ongoing learning resource, often with key scientific vocabulary – where findings and questions can be added as the work progresses. This allows teachers to constantly monitor the progression of the children as they move through the Science topic.
Knowledge organisers are used to ensure everything is covered within the topic, they also ensure key words and vocabulary is highlighted to support teachers and children.
After completing a detailed book scrutiny, we discovered that each class is planning using the progression document, scientific enquiry is evidenced throughout and there is clear pride in the work that each child is completing. This pride was clearly seen when we spoke to the children in regards to their work; they could point out parts if their work that they loved and parts that they struggled with. As well as this, the children we spoke to, across each year group, were able to discuss their work at varying levels of depth. When probed, the children could answer questions about recent learning, previous learning, and how what had been learned so far could be linked to future learning.
Work sampling continues to take place over the course of the year and this enables us to work with teachers to monitor the standard of the children’s work overall, as well as reviewing how well the cross curricular nature of the teaching curriculum has embedded across the school. Speaking to the children about their learning whilst having them bring their books with them, allows children to gain confidence in speaking about their learning and allows staff a gauge of how well children have retained information outside of what books show.
Foundation stage achievement and progress is monitored through relevant age range steps laid out in the EYFS profile. These small learning steps lead to the Early Learning Goals.
Current standards and progress
Along with the Learning Challenge curriculum, we have adopted a new style of assessment for Science. As Science has discrete skills and specific Key Stage objectives that have to be taught over the year, teachers assess formally each half term using Insight, outlining relevant objectives. Quizlets are used to help with the assessment of children’s understanding. Decisions are made as to whether children are emerging, expected or exceeding the level appropriate to their age.
As the year progresses, work samples and the general results of these assessments will enable me, as subject leader, to get a clear picture as to whether various children or cohorts are working above, below or expected levels in Science. Progress for individuals will be made clearer as objectives are highlighted over time.
Where to now? Recent developments, highlights and priorities for future developments
A Science Week is being planned for spring term 2023. This will hopefully include a various real life learning opportunities, how science relates to work place and the modern world as well fun, practical memorable experiences that children will use to support their understanding of science.
Future development opportunities:
Science at Gilded Hollins