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Science Curriculum Statement

Intent

Curriculum design at The Firs

In deciding on the intent behind the design of our curriculum it is our vision and values that are the starting point. See The Firs’ Curriculum Policy.

The key drivers behind the makeup of our curriculum are:

  • What we wanted to develop in a ‘Firs’ Mindset’ (which we defined as the values and approaches to life we wanted our children to live by and hold to).

  • The knowledge and skills we wished to develop in addition to those set out in the National Curriculum.

  • Any gaps in children’s knowledge, skills or awareness that we perceived, associated with the context of our local environment, location or general pupil characteristics.

  • Our understanding of what ‘Cultural Capital’ meant to us at The Firs and in each year group, how we could give children the chance to experience it.

All of the thinking behind these key drivers are set out in The Firs Scheme of Work.

We decided on an additional programme of learning, organised into a number of strands, that would complement the content from the National Curriculum. We have called these additional strands ‘The Firs’ Themes’.

The Science Curriculum at The Firs

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. 

We want lessons to have a ‘hands on’, skills-based focus, with the knowledge and skills being taught, linked to real life situations and applications, making references to the work of scientists and scientific discoveries.

At The Firs, 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 world around them. 

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, as well as the application of scientific skills. 

We ensure that the Working Scientifically skills are built-on and developed throughout children’s time at the school, so that they can apply their knowledge of science when using equipment, conducting experiments, building arguments and explaining concepts confidently and continue to ask questions and be curious about their surroundings. 
 

In designing our curriculum we follow our Science Principles:

 

1. The Children have opportunities for exploration through well-equipped and prepared lessons.

 

2 All children are engaged and having fun learning.

 

3. Children show individual, continuous progress in science.

 

4. Children use scientific enquiry to ask and answer their own questions.

 

5. Children work collaboratively, having good conversations about what they are learning.

 

We try to link their learning with real life and make links with science capital whenever we can. For example:

  • In working on sound, children think about how sound absorption and sound proofing are used in real world examples such as in the design of a sound recording studio and the protective barriers built round housing estates near main roads in the local area (Year 4 Autumn term). 

  • In the work on forces, thinking about pushes and pulls, children learn about the work of Isaac Newton and his theories concerning gravity. (Year 3 Autumn Term).

  • In the work on the properties of materials children walk around the school to find things that have different properties discussing why certain things around the school are made from that material. (Year 1 Autumn Term). 

  • In the work on Humans and Other Animals, when learning about the skeletal system, children learn about the way Xrays and MRI scans are used to look at bones and organs in the body. (Year 3 Spring Term). 

  • In the work on States of Matter children learn about how in 1767, a clergyman and scientist called Joseph Priestly accidentally invented the first fizzy drink. They then go on to conduct an experiment to find which fizzy drink has the most carbon dioxide and would be the best to serve at a party! (Year 4 Spring Term).

We aim to develop SMSC through our science curriculum by:

  • Spiritual: Allowing pupils to see the wonders of the natural world and have a sense of awe and wonder when learning about the abundance of life around them For example, seeing the look of wonder on the faces of our children as they watch a chick emerging from its egg in the Pine incubator! (Year R)

  • Moral: In the topic Humans and Other Animals, children talk about the needs of  a pet and discuss the responsibilities of the owner to meet those needs because they are in the owner's care. (Year 2)

  • Social: Looking at the issues that can be created by scientific advances and the way science can be used to solve problems. For example, the discussion of Noise Pollution and how it can be tackled in the work on Sound (Year 4)

  • Cultural: Looking at how cultural issues impact on food choices in the work on Animals, including humans. Children discuss how popular fast food is in our culture and look at the nutritional values of some food from a popular fast food retailer. (Year 3)

Implementation

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 will be taught in planned and arranged 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. 

  • Through our planning, we will involve problem solving opportunities that allow children to apply their knowledge, and find out answers for themselves. Children will be encouraged to ask their own questions and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover the answers. This curiosity will be celebrated within the classroom. Planning will involve teachers creating engaging lessons, often involving high-quality resources to aid understanding of conceptual knowledge. 

  • We will build upon the knowledge 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 will be helped to become increasingly confident in their growing ability to come to conclusions based on real evidence.

  • Children are encouraged to learn by using five different types of scientific enquiry:

  • Observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying, carrying out fair and comparative tests and using secondary sources of information. This ensures a wide variety of scientific methods, processes and skills are used in their learning.

  • Aspects of ‘Working scientifically' from the National Curriculum is included in each lesson plan and is taught continuously through the science content of lessons.

  • Within the lessons, prior learning from the unit and previous units is consolidated through re-cap and reinforcement to ensure children can make links between skills/knowledge and previously learnt skills/knowledge.

  • Questioning, modelling and feedback are used to support the teaching and learning process, ensure progression within every lesson and aid assessment. Key questions that will move the learning on are identified in the planning in a different colour to facilitate this.

  • Pupils participate in high quality science lessons, ensuring practical investigations, observations, a variety of resources with learning outside the classroom always encouraged.

  • Teachers will 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 and workshops with experts.

  • We want children to feel excited about their science learning in school. Outside of routine lessons this is achieved by visits and visitors to the school organised regularly as part of the learning programme:

  • Living Eggs incubator installed in Year R each year, allowing children to see eggs hatch and affording the opportunity to learn about how to care for the young chicks.

  • Regular access to work in and observe growth in the planting area in Year R and explore the wildlife zone.

  • Visit to a local Open Farm in Year R, looking at the names of different animals, how they feed, how they are cared for and other characteristics.

  • Year 1 trip to Ampthill Park to listen to the Ampthill Park Ranger, look at the different types of trees and collect seeds.

  • Visit by ‘Teaching Talons’ in Year 1, teaching children about how animals survive in their habitat, how they are divided into different groups such as mammal, reptile etc. 

  • Each year group has a six week block of Forest Schools work, which covers aspects of science.

  • The school holds special themed days and weeks to celebrate science, give opportunities beyond the normal taught curriculum and give children exciting and stimulating learning experiences. For example, see the information on our website concerning the 2nd Science Week held by the school in Spring 2022.

Challenge and differentiation.

  • Very often, issues with literacy skills can impede a child’s ability to meet or demonstrate they have met scientific lesson objectives. We see the role of differentiation being to try to overcome these barriers to scientific achievement.

  • Teachers will plan learning activities with the intention of providing appropriate challenge for all children. The challenge element of lessons will seek to extend or deepen the children’s understanding and/or ability to apply that knowledge to past or current examples. The list of examples below is representative but not exhaustive:

  1. -Explaining the work in the classroom in relation to the work of a scientist in the past.
  2. -Relating conclusions arrived at to real life situations and applications of the same scientific principles.
  3. -Linking the work in the current lesson to previous work.
  4. -Solving a problem using the application of the scientific methods or knowledge featured in the lesson / current topic.

These challenge tasks are set in our lessons to get our children thinking. For example:

  • In the work on ‘Senses’, when learning about how we see with our eyes, the challenge is for children to Explain why we must not look at the sun. (Year 1 Autumn term)

  • In their work on the properties of materials, children think about what would happen to the way they are used if one of those properties changes, the question being ‘What if all materials were rigid (not flexible)?’ (Year 2 Spring term)

  • In their work on Plants and Growing, children answer the question ‘Do big seeds grow big plants? How do you know?’ (Year 2 Summer Term)

  • In the work on forces, thinking about pushes and pulls, children are given a picture of a boot kicking a ball. They are asked to label all the forces in the picture e.g. gravity pulling the ball down, foot pushing the ball away, studs pushing the person along the ground. (Year 3 Autumn term)

  • In the work on shadows, as a challenge, children are asked to explain how we can use the sun to tell the time. (Year 3 autumn term)

  • In the work on Conductors and Insulators in the Electricity topic, children are asked to find evidence to support whether humans can conduct electricity. (Year 4 Autumn Term). 

  • In the work on States of Matter, investigating solids, liquids and gases children make slime from cornflour and water. They find out about ‘Non Newtonian Fluids’ answering the challenge question ‘Is slime a solid or a liquid… or is it something else?!’ (Year 4 Spring Term).

Impact

Assessment

Children’s progress is continually monitored and is used to inform future teaching and learning. By the end of each year, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study as set out in the Scheme of Work (see above). 

Children receive effective feedback through teacher assessment, both orally and through written feedback in line with the success criteria. Children are guided towards achievement of the main objective through the use of ‘success criteria’, provided by and explained by the teacher. Children will have these to refer to in the lesson, where they will be evident in their books and used to identify areas of difficulty by children and teachers when reviewing and assessing work.

Assessment for learning is continuous throughout the planning, teaching and learning cycle and occurs in the following ways:

  • Observing children at work, individually, in pairs, in a group, and in classes.

  • Questioning, talking and listening to children

  • Considering work/materials / investigations produced by children together with discussion about this with them.

  • Evidence from informal quizzes and summative tests

Children will be asked to identify what they know already about each topic, as well as what they would like to know. The work undertaken will be responsive to the children’s starting points, as well as their specific interests. It also ensures a focus on the key identified knowledge of each topic, which is mapped within and across year groups to ensure progression. 

Monitoring Standards

In order to measure the impact of the Science curriculum, we use a range of formative and summative assessment in all lessons such as:

  • Observations/learning walks/drop ins

  • Looking at children’s written work

  • Feedback from staff and children

  • Analysis of our assessment tool linked to Scheme of Work objectives/National Curriculum for each year

Assessment information is collected and analysed by the subject leader using the school Science Assessment Template, as part of our monitoring of teaching and learning. Staff make judgements to record on the template using the guidance set out in the school Science Assessment Guidance document, an extract of which is shown below:

Aspect of Science or ‘Working Scientifically’.

Working Towards expectations

Meeting Expectations / Secure

Working at Greater Depth within the Standard (GDS)

Year 1 - Science Knowledge

Y1.a  - 1.4a.1 - Plants

Identify and name a variety of common wild and garden plants, including deciduous and evergreen trees

Working Towards: Identify and name a limited range of plants.

Meeting: Identify a range of local plants.

GDS: Identify and notice similarities between various local plants.

Y1.b  - 1.4a.2 - Plants

Identify and describe the basic structure of a variety of common flowering plants, including trees.

Working Towards: Identify and describe the basic structure of a common flowering plant.

Meeting: Name parts of a range of familiar plants.

GDS: Identify and notice similarities in the structure of various local plants.

This process provides us with an understanding of the quality of education in science as well as indicating areas for development.