At St Mary’s, children engage with a high-quality science curriculum that inspires curiosity and excitement about the world around them. Children will build up knowledge and understanding of key scientific concepts and vocabulary, as well as the methods, processes, uses and implications of science. Our curriculum reflects the high importance of scientific investigations in developing children’s fascination with the subject, and can provide natural opportunities to learn about the value of perseverance. Children are encouraged to ask questions and work scientifically to develop their appreciation of the power of rational explanation. Cross-curricular knowledge and skills are used to enhance children’s experience of science throughout the school.
At St Mary’s, science teaching is structured to take advantage of seasonal study opportunities and to ensure progression in scientific working skills whilst ensuring full coverage of the National Curriculum for England. Each year is comprised of six blocks of sessions focussed on one of the scientific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. The school follows a progressive curriculum, which means that lessons are based on knowledge from the previous years. Our teachers check children’s understanding through quizzes and knowledge organisers and they address misconceptions or gaps whenever necessary. In class, teachers use questioning to assess the development of conceptual knowledge and skills, allowing them to provide the appropriate level of challenge to all children.
In the foundation stage, children are taught science as part of the Understanding the World area of the EYFS Statutory Framework. They learn to observe and compare the similarities and differences between objects, materials and living things, through lots of hands-on experience and experimentation. They make observations of plants and small animals whilst exploring the spinney, and the Reception trip to London Zoo to see the big herbivores and carnivores is always a highlight of the year.
In Key Stage One, children are encouraged to look more closely at the world around them, ask questions about and suggest explanations for the phenomena they observe. They are introduced to different types of scientific enquiry, such as noticing patterns, grouping and classifying, and begin to carry out simple comparative tests. They use simple scientific language accurately to talk about what they have discovered. Children will learn from books, photographs and videos as well as the first-hand practical experience which is at the core of the curriculum.
In Key Stage Two, children will begin to broaden their scientific view of the world around them through exploring, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena. They will investigate the relationship between living things and familiar environments, and begin to develop ideas about how they interact. They will ask questions about their observations and begin to make decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are best suited to answering them. Children will learn about the importance of a “fair test” and the value of working systematically. They will draw simple conclusions and present these in verbal and written form. In Upper Key Stage Two, children explore more abstract ideas and concepts, and learn that scientific ideas change and develop over time. They are expected to draw conclusions from data and observation, use evidence to justify their ideas, and us their scientific knowledge and understanding to explain their findings.
In each year group, teachers aim to deliver lessons where learning is facilitated through systematic investigations, leading to increasing pupils’ knowledge and understanding of the world around them. Children will be encouraged to ask questions and work scientifically to further their conceptual understanding and scientific knowledge. Lessons contain at least one ‘wow’ fact or task, in order to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity. If children find more ‘wow’ facts during research or experiments, they are celebrated and shared in the classroom. A spirit of curiosity and innovative ideas are praised by the class teacher at all times.
Children are encouraged to use their developing scientific vocabulary, both written and verbal, to explain their ideas and make sense of their observations, often revisiting the knowledge organisers before lessons. Teachers make sure to demonstrate the use of scientific equipment and skills necessary to facilitate and develop scientific understanding. Based on prior knowledge and linking ideas together, children learn to become enquiry-based learners. Opportunities for children to meet the full range of scientific investigative approaches entail pattern-seeking, exploring, problem-solving, fair testing, and analysing secondary resources.
We also value cross-curricular activities and apply knowledge from other subjects where possible. For example, the children can apply their mathematical knowledge in collecting and analysing data; their skill at drawing in making observations of a plant; and the written and verbal skills they have learnt in English to articulate concepts clearly, or present their conclusions from an experiment. Teachers find opportunities to link the classroom knowledge to the surroundings by accessing outdoor learning and arranging workshops and school trips. Children have enjoyed exploring earthquakes and volcanoes at the Natural History Museum and making links between carnivorous plants and minibeasts at Kew Gardens.
From Year 1, children are given the opportunity to write an essay demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of the key concepts they have been taught at the end of each unit. The children’s learning in science is assessed at the end of each unit by teachers, informed by contributions to class discussions, work in science books and final essay.
Class teachers complete an additional annual assessment grid at the end of each academic year. These grids enable teachers to monitor progress towards science curriculum objectives, including scientific working, as described in the National Curriculum for England.