Science at Overleigh St Mary’s C of E Primary School
At Overleigh we believe that a high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world. We endeavour to illustrate to the children in our school the ways in which Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and we believe that all children should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, children should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.
All children, including those with SEND or disadvantaged groups, fully access the Science curriculum. This may include additional adult support, adapted work outcomes or structured sentence stems, taught vocabulary scaffolds or adaptions to materials and equipment to support children in becoming effective, efficient and curious scientists.
The intent of what we want our children to gain in our science curriculum comes from being informed, articulate and empowered learners:-
- Children develop the scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding they need in order to make sense of the world, through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.
- Children develop understanding of how to work scientifically through different types of scientific enquiries (comparative and fair testing; pattern seeking; identifying, classifying and grouping; observing over time; research using secondary sources) that help them to answer specific questions about the word around them.
- Children are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future
- Through the teaching of specific science vocabulary and opportunities to discuss their learning, children develop their ability to think critically, evaluate and understand the world.
- Children are given sentence stems within which they can frame their ideas and communicate clearly and accurately.
- Links to prior learning is made so that children can build to their scientific knowledge
- Opportunities for practical, group work is regularly planned in to encourage the use of science talk and vocabulary.
- The discoveries, innovations and significant scientists introduced reflect the diversity of our community, enabling pupils to see themselves within the world of science. This supports the children’s belief that they too can be successful scientists.
- The focus on having a growth mind-set is essential in the teaching of science, empowering children with the confidence to have a go, to learn from mistakes and to keep trying and improving. This is true of many significant scientists.
- Children explore the purposes of science within a context as well as its meaning within their own life and future e.g. exploring the science of climate change or that just because science now enables us to do something, does that mean we should?
- In school workshops and visits to places of scientific interest (e.g. Xplore! Science Discovery Centre) to spark interest and enthusiasm.
- Igniting children’s learning through purposeful and enriching experiences that enhance their enjoyment of all that they learn. This will be done through practical investigations and demonstrations, outdoor learning and linking their science learning to real life.
- An appreciation and understanding of how science influences all of our daily lives is essential to the children feeling empowered to make a positive difference to society.
- All children, including those who have SEND or are disadvantaged, are supported to fully access the science curriculum. This may include additional adult support or use of visual/actions. Structured sentence stems and taught vocabulary scaffold children in discussion.
Science begins in the EYFS with the Understanding the World area of development. In the EYFS the children will explore the world around them making observations of what they see and asking questions about how and why things happen. The experiences the children encounter in the EYFS are the foundations on which scientific knowledge and concepts of subsequent key stages are built.
In Key Stage One and Two we teach Science as a discrete subject each week focusing on the scientific knowledge, as well as working scientifically. We aim to deliver fun and enjoyable science sessions which inspire and ignite the children’s curiosity and wonder. We aim to give the children hands on, concrete, practical and real experiences whenever possible. Where it is beneficial to learning, we will make links between other areas of learning (particularly Mathematics when collecting, presenting and analysing data.) In order to inspire and motivate the children within our curriculum we have incorporated key Scientists within each topic. The scientists are from a range of diverse backgrounds, to celebrate the achievements of all scientists, promote diversity and nurture positive attitudes.
The content of our curriculum follows a sequence of scientific concepts and knowledge acquisition. We believe that it is important children develop a secure understanding of each key block of knowledge and concept in order to progress to the next stage. Therefore, topics and concepts will be re-visited and built upon as the children move through each Key Stage, adding layers of depth to their scientific understanding. Here at Overleigh the children will know and understand between 3-6 key pieces of scientific knowledge by the end of each topic. In addition to this between 5-10 pieces of key vocabulary will be explicitly taught. The content is progressive, building on prior knowledge and introducing new knowledge as they move through the school. This knowledge and vocabulary is identified in the medium term planning, on the knowledge organisers and on the ‘Topic Boards’ that the children use in the classroom. This new vocabulary builds on vocabulary previously taught.
“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”. (NC Science 2014).
In addition to their scientific knowledge the children are required to develop their scientific enquiry skills to enable them to work scientifically. ‘Working scientifically’ specifies the understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science for each year group. As such it is not taught as a separate strand rather it is woven through the content of each science topic. It focuses on the 5 key features of scientific enquiry, so that the children learn to use a variety of approaches to answer relevant scientific questions.
These 5 key features of scientific enquiry are:
- observing over time;
- pattern seeking;
- identifying, classifying and grouping;
- comparative and fair testing (controlled investigations);
- researching using secondary sources.
Key features of enquiry and enquiry skills are identified on the medium term plans. As the children move through the year groups, their enquiry skills are developed and built upon. When they reach the end of Key stage 2, children will be able to independently select an appropriate mode of enquiry and be able to implement the methodology required to answer scientific questions. All children, including those with SEND and other vulnerable groups, will have access to the full breadth of the curriculum with work being adapted through the adaption of materials, vocabulary support, enquiry scaffold support and scientific equipment, or through expected work outcomes, by the class teacher.
Our Science Curriculum is high quality, well thought out and is planned to ensure progression. Our teachers measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- A knowledge check at the beginning of each unit to see what the children already know
- Start lessons with a recap of key knowledge and understanding from the previous session
- Provide opportunities each lesson to use the key vocabulary
- Focus a minimum of one lesson in each unit on Scientific enquiry and questioning
- Provide opportunities for open-ended tasks, to allow the more able to demonstrate their greater knowledge and for teachers to elicit the children’s understanding
- A short mid-unit assessment to inform teaching and planning for the rest of the unit
- Assess children at the end of the unit against key knowledge and learning
The leadership team check that this impact is being secured through monitoring the subject on a regular and frequent basis. The method of monitoring supports the ongoing development of the curriculum. This includes:
- Staff subject knowledge, which is audited each year to ensure knowledge is secure, and additional support provided if necessary
- Staff meetings to discuss and evaluate the effectiveness of topics with the subject leaders. From this, medium term planning is amended and adapted to ensure the curriculum remains relevant for the children
- A ‘pupil voice’, which is conducted at the beginning and end of each year to allow pupils to contribute to their curriculum content
- Bi-termly monitoring of work against the medium-term plans, so that inconsistencies can be addressed
- Tracking of content against the long-term plan of the school, to ensure the full breadth of the curriculum is met.
The impact of this is to ensure that children at Overleigh are equipped with skills and knowledge, which will enable them to be ready for the curriculum at Key Stage 3 and aims to maximise their pupils’ engagement with and motivation to study science as future adults.