Science Learning Journey
Aims and Objectives
The aim of science teaching at Westgate Primary School is to enable pupils to:
- develop broad, deep, and enduring knowledge, vocabulary and understanding of scientific concepts and phenomena.
- use their scientific knowledge, vocabulary and understanding to make informed predictions; test hypotheses; make careful, focused observations; analyse relevant data; design comparative and fair tests; and communicate their findings and conclusions with efficiency and accuracy.
- use their scientific knowledge to ask questions and find reliable answers about the world around them and their everyday experiences.
- make links between scientific concepts and ideas, and those in other subjects.
- understand the importance of the scientific method, collaboration, evidence and rational explanation.
- develop and maintain a sense of wonder, curiosity, excitement and positivity about the subject of science itself and the natural world.
We place an emphasis on our children acquiring the necessary knowledge they need to make sense of scientific concepts, theories and the world around them. We want our children to be fluent in the language of science and able to express themselves clearly and accurately. We do this by providing the children with regular opportunities to commit new concepts and vocabulary into memory through low-stakes retrieval quizzes, do-now activities, self-testing and review, peer and whole-class discussions, elaborative-interrogative questioning (asking how…? why…? questions), writing activities, and creating schematic representations of concepts. These activities also help to consolidate the knowledge of, and form links between, previously taught concepts (as well as highlighting misconceptions to the teacher). Children having the ability to generate information from memory using their own words – instead of just restating learned information – is key to developing deeper understanding. New material is presented clearly, logically and carefully, with teachers providing clear explanations, models (both “good” and “bad”), analogies, narratives and scaffolding for difficult tasks. Responsive formative assessment is carried out during the lessons and future teaching is adapted to meet the needs of the children. Teachers will not move ahead if the ground behind is not secure.
Fundamental to science is the testing of ideas through experiments. Teachers choose carefully when to do a science practical. The scientific investigations, experiments, enquiries, and testing of hypotheses that the children undertake should be interesting, engaging and motivating, but most importantly aligned to the theoretical concepts and knowledge previously taught. Generally, practical activities will be used to supplement and support instruction, rather than replace it1 (i.e. through “enquiry” or “discovery” learning). This allows the children to develop their “working scientifically” skills, procedural knowledge and process skills more efficiently. We utilise our local area and organise trips whenever we feel it will contribute and enhance the children’s learning.
The science curriculum at Westgate follows the National Curriculum 2014. It is taught through discrete lessons, and the topics and vocabulary have been organised and sequenced in a logical way to allow new knowledge to build on prior learning. Where appropriate, links with other subjects are highlighted (for example, between “Rocks and Fossils” and the Stone Age, or between PE and “Animals, including humans”). Maths, particularly data handling/statistics, will feature often in our Science lessons.
We teach science in the Foundation stage as an integral part of the topic work covered during the year. It comes under “Understanding the World in the EYFS”. Children will be supported in developing the knowledge, skills and understanding that help them to make sense of the world. Their learning is supported through offering opportunities to use a range of tools safely; encounter creatures, people, plants and objects in their natural environments and in real-life situations; undertake practical ‘experiments’; and work with a range of materials.
Key Stage 1
Pupils will begin to develop their understanding of scientific concepts and ideas. They will experience, observe, explore and ask questions about phenomena and the natural/human world around them. They will use different types of enquiry to collect evidence to help them answer questions, find patterns, classify and group objects, observe changes over time and become familiar with the concept of a fair test. They will share their ideas and communicate them using scientific language, drawings, charts, and tables.
Lower Key Stage 2
The principal focus is to enable pupils to broaden and deepen their scientific view of the world around them. They should do this through exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments. They should ask their own questions about what they observe and make some decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering them, including observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative and fair tests and finding things out using secondary sources of information. They should draw simple conclusions and use scientific language when communicating.
Upper Key Stage 2
The principal focus is to enable pupils to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of scientific ideas. They will be given opportunities for exploring and talking about their ideas; asking their own questions about scientific phenomena; and analysing functions, relationships and interactions more systematically. They should encounter more abstract ideas and begin to recognise how these ideas help them to understand and predict how the world operates. They should also begin to recognise that scientific ideas change and develop over time. They should select the most appropriate ways to answer science questions using different types of scientific enquiry, including observing changes over different periods of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out comparative and fair tests and finding things out using a wide range of secondary sources of information. Pupils should draw conclusions based on their data and observations, use evidence to justify their ideas, and use their scientific knowledge and understanding to explain their findings.
Resources (including visits)
Subject leaders work with teachers to ensure resources are available for teaching their topics.
Inclusion and Equal Opportunities
All learners will be given equal opportunities to access science. They will be supported or challenged through external scaffolding of tasks (i.e. providing materials or additional adults) and/or task quantity. Content demand expectations should be high.
Assessing, Recording and Monitoring
Responsive formative assessment should be carried out and future teaching adapted to meet the needs of the children. Children should be given opportunities to improve their work/answers and address any misconceptions that are identified. The KS1 and KS2 TAF requirements do not contain all curriculum statements and the content being taught should not be limited to what is outlined in them.
End-of-unit assessment can be through tests, extended pieces of writing, judgements from lessons, etc. Consideration will be given to how children with weaker literacy skills can be assessed for their scientific knowledge (e.g. reading questions to children, oral responses, drawing pictures to explain their thinking, multiple choice questions, etc.). Some of the tests require a reading level that may be above some children in a class. A child who understands a scientific concept should not be punished because they cannot access the assessment and demonstrate their knowledge in writing.
Subject leaders carry out a range of monitoring activities as detailed in the Teaching and Learning Policy.
Equipment is checked for signs of damaged and replaced as needed. All trips and experiments are risk assessed.
Date ratified by Performance and Standards Committee: June 2020
Next review date: June 2023 (every 3 years)
Associated Policies: Teaching and Learning, Equal Opportunities, SEN and Assessment
1 ‘Intention and substance: further findings from the phase 3 research: primary science.’ Ofsted, February 2019, No. 190002