Science

‘Experiment. Fail. Learn. Repeat.’

At Van Gogh Primary, Science is a highly valued subject.  Science stimulates and ignites pupils’ curiosity about phenomena and events in the world around them. At our school, we endeavour to contextualise the children’s learning in Science, so that they are encouraged to understand and relate what they are learning in class to their real lives in order to give them a better understanding of the world.

We believe scientific enquiry is at the heart of science teaching. Through this, we aim to scaffold and encourage children’s natural curiosity about themselves and their surroundings. We provide children the opportunity to develop their own questions and to consider ways of finding out answers, promoting problem solving skills, ownership over their own learning and ultimately a better understanding of scientific concepts. They are encouraged to observe, raise questions, make predictions, experiment and record their findings. This includes developing the ability to examine things systematically, to select and sort information, to understand the features of a fair test and to be able to collect and consider evidence.

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Key Curriculum Principles

1. Enrichment: Taught content should be taught through quality and applicable experiments. Experiments and investigations are undoubtedly the best thing about science – they are both memorable and fun for the children. There, there should be four quality experiments or investigations per half term. Teachers are encouraged to go off on a tangent, repeat experiments, reflect, report etc. 

2. Knowledge rich: A range of different scientific enquiry areas should be covered within each unit.  It isn’t enough just to be doing experiments and investigations in science – children need to think critically about the types of investigations they are doing.  

3. Oracy: Vocabulary progression should be linked to whole school vocabulary overview.  As a school, we have a map of key vocabulary that should be taught to pupils.  Key vocabulary should be part of all class science displays. 

4. The Bigger Picture: Progression of knowledge should be clear. The key knowledge that the children will learn through each science unit is clear and builds on from previous learning; allocating experiments for enquiry and suggesting progression.  

Science experiments for kids walking water

IMPLEMENTATION

How is science taught in KS1?  

Teachers should endeavour to teach as much of the science knowledge through investigative approaches. This means that the working scientifically skills appropriate to KS1 should underpin every science lesson and that investigations should be used as an engaging platform through which children develop core knowledge and understanding.

Science topics should be covered in the terms stated in the curriculum overview below, however flexibility is given to year groups to determine how best to timetable these. This may be a lesson once per week for a duration of 6 weeks or 6 consecutive lessons in a block. A recommendation would be that teaching each topic in a ‘block’ lends itself to science, both in a practical sense (sharing resources/equipment/preparation for investigations) and as an effective way of children building on and applying knowledge from the previous lesson. 

Within each topic, at least 4 lessons should be based around an experiment or investigation question. Children are not expected to record every part of the experiment in their books. In fact, teachers may want to focus on a particular skill within the lesson such as predicting, planning a method, recording accurate results or concluding. 

In KS1, recording in books may include, but is not limited to:

  • Written sentences

  • Labelled diagrams

  • Cloze exercises

  • Cutting/sticking/matching/sorting activities

  • Annotated concept cartoons

  • Captions

  • Photos

  • Lists

  • Tables

  • Observations written in speech bubbles

How is science taught in KS2?

Teachers should endeavour to teach as much of the science knowledge through investigative approaches. This means that the working scientifically skills appropriate to KS2 should underpin every science lesson and that investigations should be used as an engaging platform through which children develop core knowledge and understanding.

Science topics should be covered in the terms stated in the curriculum overview below, however flexibility is given to year groups to determine how best to timetable these. This may be a lesson once per week for a duration of 6 weeks or 6 consecutive lessons in a block. A recommendation would be that teaching each topic in a ‘block’ lends itself to science, both in a practical sense (sharing resources/equipment/preparation for investigations) and as an effective way of children building on and applying knowledge from the previous lesson. 

Within each topic, at least 4 lessons should be based around an experiment or investigation question. Children are not expected to record every part of the experiment in their books. In fact, teachers may want to focus on a particular skill within the lesson such as predicting, planning a method, recording accurate results or concluding. 

In KS2, recording in books may include, but is not limited to:

  • Written paragraphs

  • Annotated concept cartoons

  • Responding to deliberate mistakes

  • Flowcharts

  • Essays

  • Instructions

  • Diagrams

  • Photos

  • Tables (Drawn, where possible, by the children)

  • Cloze exercises

  • Charts & graphs

  • Reports

SEND and Inclusion

As in all areas of the curriculum, teachers should deliver ‘quality-first’ teaching and differentiate to support children with barriers to learning. On an individual basis, teachers should consider any limitations that a child has in accessing the planned lesson and provide resources, scaffolds, adapted tasks, adult support and differentiated questioning where appropriate. As science demands a high-level of vocabulary understanding, it may be beneficial to ‘pre-teach’ vocabulary to specific children.

Science lessons should provide challenge for those children demonstrating a secure understanding. Teachers should use open ended questions and scenarios to promote deep thinking and encourage the children’s application of prior knowledge. This could be done verbally or through ‘challenge strips’ where children provide a written response in their books.

Feedback and Assessment of learning

Teachers should use formative assessment strategies to gather information about the children’s level of understanding at the beginning, during and at the end of a topic. It is expected that at the start of each new science topic, children complete a mind map in blue pen demonstrating any knowledge they have prior to the topic starting. At the end of a topic, children add to the mind map in green pen as a way of evidencing their improved knowledge and understanding. In addition to the mind map, teachers should consider other ways in which they can assess children’s understanding of a topic of work. These should be year group appropriate and reflected in the books either through photos, a blurb or extended writing. These assessment opportunities could be, but are not limited to, any of the below:

  • A google quiz

  • A presentation (poster, display board, PowerPoint)

  • Peer teaching

  • Narrative/drama

  • A structured debate

  • An information leaflet

  • An essay

In addition to end of topic assessment, it is expected that teachers use formative strategies within their lessons (such as questioning or retrieval exercises) to continually assess and gain insight into the children’s level of understanding, therefore influencing next steps.

As in the feedback policy, the sole focus of feedback and marking should be to further children’s learning. Although teachers may want to ‘acknowledge mark’ books as an indication that they have reviewed the learning, what will be most effective is when feedback is delivered closest to the point of action. Feedback in class may include targeting individuals or small groups, verbal comments, TA supported groups, redirecting the focus of the teaching, summarising and evaluating, self/peer assessment or providing further challenge. 

Staff professional learning

Curriculum guidance and supporting resources are accessible both within this document and on the google drive within the science folder. There are lots of investigation and experiment ideas, linked to all aspects of working scientifically within each year group.

Teachers are encouraged to develop their subject knowledge through reachoutcpd.com. This website is free to sign up to and has 15-minute subject specific tutorials focused on all areas of science. Before teaching a topic, teachers are encouraged to clarify their subject knowledge using this CPD. 

Cross curricular links

Where possible, teachers should plan for and promote the cross-curricular links between Science and other areas of the curriculum:

  • Maths - accurate recording, measure, temperature, data handling, pattern seeking

  • English - essays, reports, sentence formation

  • Speaking & Listening - debating, justifying, presenting, questioning

  • PE - movement, how our body responds to exercise,

  • Music - how sound travels


Curriculum Overview

 

Autumn 1

Autumn 2

Spring 1

Spring 2

Summer 1

Summer 2

Year 1

Animals, including humans

Everyday Materials

Plants

Seasons

Year 2

Uses of Everyday Materials

Animals, including humans

Living Things and their Habitats

Plants

Year 3

Rocks

Animals, including humans

Light

Plants

Forces and Magnets

Year 4

Electricity

Sound

Animals, including humans

States of Matter

Living Things and their Habitats

Year 5

Animals, including humans

Earth and Space 

Properties and Changes of Materials

Forces

Living Things and their Habitats

Year 6

Evolution and Inheritance

Cells

Animals, including humans

Electricity

Light

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