We understand that it is important for lessons to have a skills-based focus, and that the knowledge can be taught through this. At Barn Croft, we encourage children to be inquisitive throughout their time at the school and beyond. The Science curriculum fosters a healthy curiosity in children about our universe and promotes respect for the living and non-living. We believe science encompasses the acquisition of knowledge, concepts, skills and positive attitudes. Throughout the programmes of study, the children will acquire and develop the key knowledge that has been identified within each unit and across each year group. The key knowledge identified by each year group is informed by the national curriculum and Cornerstones to build towards phase ‘end points’ in accordance with national curriculum expectations. Key skills are also mapped for each year group and are progressive throughout the school. These too ensure systematic progression to identified skills end points which are in accordance with the Working Scientifically skills expectations of the national curriculum. The curriculum is designed to ensure that children are able to acquire key scientific knowledge through practical experiences; using equipment, conducting experiments, building arguments and explaining concepts confidently. The school’s approach to science takes account of the school’s own context, ensuring access to people with specialist expertise and places of scientific interest as part of the school’s commitment to learning outside the classroom. Cross curricular opportunities are also identified, mapped and planned to ensure contextual relevance. Children are encouraged to ask questions and be curious about their surroundings and a love of science is nurtured through a whole school ethos and a varied science curriculum.
The 2014 national curriculum for science aims to ensure that all pupils:
- develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
- develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
- are equipped with the scientific skills required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.
Teachers create a positive attitude to science learning within their classrooms and reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in science. Our whole school approach to the teaching and learning of science involves the following;
Science is taught in planned and linked (where possible) topic blocks by the class teacher, to have a project-based approach. This is a strategy to enable the achievement of a greater depth of knowledge.
Each new unit of work begins with a recap of the previous related knowledge from previous years. This helps children to retrieve what they have learnt in the earlier sequence of the programme of study, and ensures that new knowledge is taught in the context of previous learning to promote a shift in long term memory. Key vocabulary for the new topic (from Cornerstones) is also introduced as part of this ‘unit introduction’ and displayed in class. This approach also means that children are able to understand the new vocabulary when it is used in teaching and learning activities and apply it themselves when they approach their work.
Once children know the new vocabulary for the unit and how it relates to previous learning, the children are asked to complete a topic quiz on Purple Mash. This provides the teacher with an insight into the children’s ‘starting points’ for the topic, to enable the use of assessment to inform planning. The children are then also asked what they would like to know and class responses are collated and used to inform the programme of study to ensure it includes elements of child-led enquiry. At the end of the topic, children take part in a review of what they now know, using the same topic quiz. The teacher is then able consolidate any of the key knowledge which is identified at this part of the process as not yet being secure.
Within all lessons, teachers plan a phase of progressive questioning which extends to and promotes the higher order thinking of all learners. Questions initially focus on the recall or retrieval of knowledge. Questions then extend to promote application of the knowledge in a new situation and are designed to promote analytical thinking, such as examining something specific.
Through planning, teachers involve problem solving opportunities that allow children to apply their knowledge, and find out answers for themselves. Children are encouraged to ask their own questions and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover the answers. This 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 precise questioning in class to assess conceptual knowledge and skills, and assess pupils regularly to identify those children with gaps in learning, so that all pupils keep up. Tasks are selected, designed and differentiated to provide appropriate challenge to all learners, in line with the school’s commitment to inclusion.
We build upon the knowledge and skill development of the previous years. As the children’s knowledge and understanding increases, they become more proficient in selecting, using scientific equipment, collating and interpreting results, they become increasingly confident in their growing ability to come to conclusions based on real evidence.
Working Scientifically skills are embedded into lessons to ensure that skills are systematically developed throughout the children’s school career and new vocabulary and challenging concepts are introduced through direct teaching. This is developed through the years, in keeping with the 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 by accessing outdoor learning, trips and workshops with experts.
Children are offered a wide range of extra-curricular activities, visits, trips and visitors to complement and broaden the curriculum. These are purposeful and link with the knowledge being taught in class.
Regular events, such as Science Week, allow all pupils to come off-timetable, to provide broader provision and the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills. These events often involve families and the wider community.
At the end of each topic, key knowledge is reviewed by the children and rigorously checked by the teacher and consolidated as necessary.
The successful approach at Barn Croft results in a fun, engaging, high-quality science education that provides children with the foundations and knowledge for understanding the world. Our engagement with the local environment ensures that children learn through varied and first hand experiences of the world around them. Frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom is embedded throughout the science curriculum. Through various workshops, trips and interactions with experts and local charities, children have the understanding that science has changed our lives and that it is vital to the world’s future prosperity. Children learn the possibilities for careers in science, as a result of our community links and connection with national agencies including the STEM association. They learn from and work with professionals, ensuring access to positive role models within the field of science from the immediate and wider local community. From this exposure to a range of different scientists from various backgrounds, all children feel they are scientists and capable of achieving. Children at Barn Croft overwhelmingly enjoy science (pupil voice) and this results in motivated learners with increasing scientific understanding.