A high-quality Science education provides the foundation for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has shaped our lives and is vital for the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through build up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, which begins in our Foundation Stage provision, pupils develop their understanding of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. Pupils at St Mary’s are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what us occurring, predict how things behave and analyse causes.
We place great emphasis on building solid vocabulary foundations throughout all subjects as we believe that developing a love of our language in our children is vital in achieving success at school and later in life. At St Mary’s our Science curriculum encourages children to be inquisitive throughout their time at school and beyond. Our curriculum fosters a healthy curiosity in our children about our universe and promotes respect for the living and non-living.
We use the National Curriculum Statutory requirements to plan from and as a school we have identified the following strands as focus areas;
Develop scientific vocabulary to enable to pupils to ensure pupils are equipped with scientific skills required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and in the future. We understand that it is important for lessons to have a skills-based focus, and that vocabulary and knowledge be taught through this.
Develop understanding of nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help children to answer scientific questions about the world around them.
Science is taught through whole class and small group teaching, while at other times we engage children through an enquiry-based research activity. Teachers create a positive attitude to science learning within their classroom and reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving. Science is taught through an integrated approach and is seen as a cog which makes up children’s experience of their wider class topic. While it is important that children make progress, it is also vitally important that they develop a secure understanding of each key block of knowledge and concepts in order to progress to the next stage. Insecure, superficial understanding will not allow genuine progression: pupils may struggle at key points of transition, build up serious misconceptions, and/or have significant difficulties understanding higher-order content. At St Mary’s we look at subjects holistically, this allows children to see Science in context and make it meaningful to children; it is a cog in their learning journey. This supports children’s ability to describe associated processed and key characteristics in common language, but also to become familiar with, and use, technical terminology accurately and precisely.
The National Curriculum for Science (2014) reflects the importance of spoken language in children’s’ development across the whole curriculum – cognitively, socially and linguistically. The quality and variety of language that pupils hear and speak are key factors in developing their scientific vocabulary and articulating scientific concepts clearly and precisely. Teachers at St Mary’s ensure that discussion probes and remedies misconceptions. Science teaching is organised to build upon knowledge and skills of the previous years. In Foundation and Key Stage 1 stories are used to introduce key vocabulary and concepts before the main science aspect is introduced. This approach also allows us to build up concepts and supports our ambition of ‘sticky knowledge’. As the children’s knowledge and understanding increases, and they become more proficient in selecting and using scientific equipment, collating and interpreting results, they become increasingly confident in their growing ability to come to a conclusion based on evidence.
Pupils use ICT during science where it enhances their learning. Pupils take part in role play and discussions, and they present reports. They have the opportunity to use a variety of data, such as statistics, graphs, pictures, and photographs.
Practical activities provide children with a range of contexts allowing safe exploration of the world around them without the need to master facts or theories. By taking part in practical activities Knowledge and skills can be developed in small steps through practical work. Sequencing of written work becomes easier after practical experiences.
Through our planning, we involve problem solving opportunities that allow children to apply their knowledge, and find answers for themselves. Children are encouraged to ask questions and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover answers. The curiosity is celebrated within the classroom. Planning involves teachers creating engaging lessons, often involving high-quality resources to aid understanding of conceptual knowledge. Teachers use questioning to assess conceptual knowledge and skills and to identify those children with gaps in their learning.
Early Years The principal focus of science teaching in the Early Years Foundation Stage is to allow children to observe the awe and wonder of the natural and humanly constructed world around them. Children are encouraged to comment, ask questions and be curious about what they observe. Children focus on the patterns, similarities and differences of the world around them. Most of the learning in science is done through first-hand practical experiences, but books, photographs and videos support children’s understanding and them make sense, and make links to the world around them.
Key Stage 1 The focus for Key Stage 1 is to enable pupils to build on their scientific experience of the Foundation Stage by more closely observing scientific phenomena. They continue to be encouraged to ask questions, be curious and engaged with the world around them. They should be helped to understanding of scientific ideas by using different types of scientific enquiry to answer their own questions, including observing changes over a period of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative tests, and finding things out using secondary sources of information. They continue to build on their scientific vocabulary to talk about what they have found out and communicate their ideas to a range of audiences in a variety of ways. Most of the learning about science continues to be done through the use of first hand practical experiences, with the appropriate use of secondary sources to enhance provision.
Key Stage 2 Lower Key Stage 2 – Years 3 and 4 The principal focus of science teaching in lower Key Stage 2 is to enable pupils to broaden their scientific view of the world around them. They do this through exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments, and by beginning to develop ideas about functions, relationships and interactions. They ask their own questions about what they observe and make some decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering them, including observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying, carrying out simple comparative and fair tests and finding things out using secondary sources of information. They should draw conclusions and use some scientific language, first to talk about and, later to write about what they have found out.
Upper Key Stage 2 – Year 5 and 6 The principal focus of Science teaching in upper Key Stage 2 is to enable pupils to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of scientific ideas. They should do this through exploring and thinking about their ideas; asking their own questions about scientific phenomena; analysing functions, relationships and interactions more systematically. At upper Key Stage 2, pupils encounter more abstract ideas, such as evolution, and begin to recognise that scientific ideas change and develop over time. They should select the most appropriate ways to answer science questions using different types of science enquiry, including observing changes over different periods of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out comparative and fair tests and finding things out using a wide range of secondary sources. Pupils should draw conclusions based on their data and observations, use evidence to justify their ideas, and use scientific knowledge and understanding to explain findings.
Working scientifically skills are embedded into lessons to ensure these skills are being developed throughout the children’s learning journey and new vocabulary and challenging concepts are introduced through direct teaching. This is developed through the year, in keeping with topics. Teachers demonstrate how to use scientific equipment, and the various Working Scientifically skills in order to embed scientific understanding. Teachers find opportunities to develop children’s understanding of their surroundings.
Children are offered a range of visits, trips and visitors to complement and broaden the curriculum, previous visits have included Crocodile World, as part of their project on Prey. These are purposeful and link with the knowledge being taught in class. The approach at St Mary’s results in a fun, engaging science education that provides children with the foundations and knowledge for understanding the world. Our planned engagement with the local environment ensures that children learn through varied and first hand experiences of the world around them. Frequent and progressive learning outside the classroom is embedded throughout our whole curriculum at St Mary’s. Through workshops, trips and interactions with experts and local charities, children have an understanding of how science has changed our lives ad that it is vital to the world’s future prosperity. Children learn about the possibilities for careers in science through their project work and other school opportunities.
Children at St Mary’s overwhelmingly enjoy science and this results in motivated learners with sounds scientific understanding.