In the South Hams Federation we recognise the importance of Science in every aspect of daily life. As one of the core subjects taught in our school, we give the teaching and learning of science the prominence it requires.
Our science teaching centred around increasing pupils’ knowledge and understanding of our world and developing the skills associated with science as a process of enquiry. It will develop the natural curiosity of the child, encourage respect for living organisms and the physical environment and provide opportunities for critical evaluation of evidence.
We aim that the science curriculum we provide will help children understand their world though the acquisition of knowledge; will help them address and reflect upon problems scientifically and will develop their awareness of the importance of science in their world. We believe that this will give them the knowledge, confidence and motivation as they continue their study of science into Key Stage 3.
We endeavour to adapt the science curriculum to make it accessible to all of our pupils, irrespective of ability or background. We recognise that many of our children do not come from scientific backgrounds, and many will have low Science Capital on entry. Whilst ensuring children receive an engaging and exploratory curriculum in class, we also ensure that every chance is taken to broaden what counts, building their Science Capital and embedding the belief that science is relevant to them, their families and our community.
The National Curriculum provides the structure and skill development for the science curriculum being taught throughout the school. Where possible it is linked to other subjects, particularly through reading, writing, mathematics and forest school. In Early Years, children begin to develop an understanding of the world around them through child-led, hands-on discovery, exploration, experimentation and problem solving. We believe the curiosity and experiences created by this prepares them well to begin KS1.
Our Science teaching offers opportunities for children to:
- develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics;
- develop a range of scientific skills within the three main themes of planning, doing and reviewing;
- develop an understanding of different types of scientific enquiry (identification and pattern seeking; observing over time; fair testing; research and exploration)
- become equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future;
- read about science, including current cutting edge research;
- communicate their scientific information and present it in a systematic, scientific manner;
- develop a respect for the materials and equipment they handle with regard to their own, and other children’s safety;
- develop an enthusiasm and enjoyment of scientific learning and discovery;
- develop their ability to make links with previous learning.
- learn about and enjoy the science of our own rural location, particularly our relationship with the sea and the wildlife surrounding our village.
Teachers create a positive attitude to science learning within their classrooms and reinforce an expectation that all children are capable of achieving high standards in science.
Science is taught as a discrete subject and is based on the National Curriculum. This means that, in most years, six topics are taught over the course of the year, with children spending one half term on each topic. This strategy ensures the progression of conceptual understanding and knowledge across the school and allows us to ensure the development of scientific skills as children move through the school.
The subject leader provides the MTP of which topics will be taught in each half term. Each class teacher creates their own weekly plans to ensure that the aims of the MTP are met. In the South Hams Federation, children have weekly science lessons delivered by their class teacher. In Early Years, scientific learning is embedded within the seven main areas of learning through which they develop their skills of exploration, experimentation, observation, prediction, critical thinking and discussion.
Each new topic begins with a lesson designed to spark interest in and find out the children’s current knowledge about the topic. This is carried out through exploratory activities and discussions, monitored by the teacher and, in KS2, a short, written assessment based on key concepts. The lessons within each topic are designed to deliver the key knowledge from the NC and to provide the opportunity to develop scientific skills. Each lesson focus is related to a scientific skill and the subject knowledge is delivered through contextually relevant activities.
The majority of lessons allow scientific enquiry but where the lesson aim is the transfer of knowledge alone, the focus is adapted so that children are given the challenge of presenting their new knowledge in a range of ways including written explanations, labelled diagrams, assessed dialogue with the teacher, PowerPoint slides and annotated photographs.
Through our planning, we involve problem-solving opportunities that allow children to find out answers for themselves. Children are encouraged to ask their own questions and are given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover the answers. This curiosity is celebrated within the classroom through examples of work and photographs on the Science Working Wall.
We build upon the learning and skill development of the previous years. As the children’s knowledge and understanding increases, and 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 all lessons to ensure they are developed throughout children’s school career, and new vocabulary and challenging concepts are introduced through direct teaching linked with the curriculum 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, particularly through Forest School and our school kitchen garden.
Children are empowered to develop their understanding of science in their own way through the use of playground kits that include scientific equipment and ideas. These kits are monitored by the School Science Councillors: 2 from each class who were trained with the equipment and take a pride in sharing their knowledge. These playtime activities not only promote curiosity but also lead to improved skill when using scientific equipment.
Additional opportunities are provided such as science themed assemblies, visiting speakers, participation in national competitions and schemes; family learning evenings and afternoons. Through these activities that promote Science Capital we aim to promote the belief, in our school families and our community, that science is a relevant part of all of our lives.
We also work with external agencies, such as the Primary Science Teaching Trust, the Institute of Chemistry and researchers and University College London and Kings College London. We work collaboratively with other schools, supporting them to drive science forward across the federation.
- How is the learning assessed?
Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual knowledge and skills to identify those children with gaps in learning, so that all children keep up. In addition, learning is assessed more formally through a number of activities:
- AfL from the initial task allows teachers to adapt the MTP to meet the needs of their current cohort.
- AfL from each lesson allows teachers to inform the way they teach subsequent lessons
- Weekly “sticky question” sessions help the teacher evaluate how well knowledge from current and previous teaching has been embedded.
- At the end of each topic, teachers assess the progress made by each pupil. The teachers’ judgements are based on
i) assessment of the conceptual knowledge learnt over the previous half-term. In KS1 this is carried out by discussion. In KS2 this is carried out by a short written test carried out in the children’s science books.
ii) assessment of scientific skills made through weekly observations of the children working scientifically and from their contributions to group discussions as well as targeted discussions with the teacher.
2. How is the teaching monitored and supported
The subject leader monitors the weekly planning to ensure that it matches the MTP; that the knowledge content is covered and that the children are being given the opportunities to develop a range of scientific skills. Teachers are provided with CPD and documents outlining the desired key knowledge and skills for all year groups, to ensure that progression is seen as the children. They are also provided with CPD and documents to help them identify the level of children’s understanding.
The teachers half-termly assessment data is recorded on Target Tracker to help the subject leader identify children who are exceeding age related expectations; those who are still working towards them and those whose progress has changed.
The subject leader carries out lesson observations to identify areas where teachers need more support. This also allows the subject leader to identify children working at greater depth and those needing more support. If needed these are followed up by joint work between subject leader and the teacher to plan the next topic.
The subject leader is supported by the Head of School. Joint observations allow the subject leader to learn how to monitor and feedback effectively.
As well as providing up to date information and ideas about learning in science and managing the school science resources, the subject leader also models teaching with each teacher’s own class, particularly where new initiatives are introduced.
3. Overall impact
Pupil voice is used to further develop the Science curriculum, through questioning of pupils’ views and attitudes to Science to support the children’s enjoyment of Science and to motivate learners. Science is a popular subject in the South Hams Federation and children receive a fun, engaging, high-quality science education, that provides them with the foundations 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.
Our endeavours to promote Science Capital mean that children have the understanding that science is relevant to all of our lives and will change the world of the future.