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Science

Science at Christ Church CE VA Primary School

‘Together, with God’s love, we can achieve anything’

A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.

Aims

The 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 knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.

Scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding

Pupils should be able to describe associated processes and key characteristics in common language, but they should also be familiar with, and use, technical terminology accurately and precisely. They should build up an extended specialist vocabulary. They should also apply their mathematical knowledge to their understanding of science, including collecting, presenting and analysing data. The social and economic implications of science are important but, generally, they are taught most appropriately within the wider school curriculum: teachers will wish to use different contexts to maximise their pupils’ engagement with and motivation to study science.

Intent

We believe that the National Curriculum’s aims for an effective science curriculum effectively sum up what we would wish for our children at Christ Church. We would summarise our intent as:

  • To encourage pupil’s scientific enthusiasm, curiosity and creativity and to develop their knowledge, conceptual understanding and skills to appreciate the world in which they live.

and to ensure that all our pupils:

  • apply this knowledge in their own independent enquiry

and so develop:

• a positive attitude towards science and an awareness of its fascination;

• an understanding of science through a process of enquiry and investigation;

• confidence and competence in scientific knowledge, concepts and skills;

• an ability to reason, predict, think logically and work systematically and accurately;

• an ability to communicate scientifically;

• the initiative to work independently, co-operatively and collaboratively;

• the ability to recognise science across the curriculum and in real life.

Implementation:

Children in Reception and Nursery study the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum wherein principles of enquiry include scientific enquiry and study.

The programmes of study for science are set out for end of key Stages 1 and 2 and also year-by-year and ‘by end of sub-Key stages within KS2’ in the National Curriculum Document. Because of our Mixed-age classes, we teach science on a two-year cycle interlinked where logical for cross-curricular knowledge synthesis with humanities study themes. We stimulate interest in science by using ‘hook’ visits / external visitors / experiences at the start of units of study, interlinked with the thematic study in History and Geography.

The programmes of study describe a sequence of knowledge and concepts. While it is important that pupils make progress, it is also vitally important that children develop secure understanding of taught knowledge and concepts in order to progress intellectually to the next stage. Progression charts are used to ensure progressive conceptual / skill demand across Key stages.

To support long-term memory gain, we issue Knowledge Organisers which detail the factual knowledge expected to be mastered. Quizzes and other related activities are held to ensure that this knowledge is being accumulated. Parents have access to the former in order to support their child.

To ensure that children become familiar with, and use, technical terminology accurately and precisely, we explicitly teach it so that children build up an extended specialist vocabulary. We also overtly make learning links between their mathematical knowledge and their understanding of science, with particular reference to collecting, measuring, presenting and analysing data.

The nature, processes and methods of science

‘Working scientifically’ specifies the understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science for each year group.

In science lessons in our school, we ensure that children undertake both structured practicals and also independent investigations.

A typical lesson format, exemplified here in a materials investigation and taken from teachers’ notes:

1.Go over as class some basic scientific property words and their meaning from  list on-screen plus a sheet each; have two or three that the children do not know; set children off in pairs to use dictionaries/ i-pads to find their meanings themselves and letter/number match. 5 mins.

2.Report back.

3.Have a transparent block of some indeterminate material. Question children to come up with as many scientific properties as they can to describe it – orally. Probe simple vocab offered to get use of better scientific, precise adjectives. 1 minute. Ask them what they could do to test for certain non-obvious properties – start thinking.

Main part of lesson:

4.Challenge children to test for certain properties (magnetism, density, flammability, resistance, conductivity etc) – they then go ahead and test a set of materials (not the flammability…), recording in a table that they design themselves. Groups of no more than 3 or some will slack. Usual safety warning discussion. Have ready magnets, nails for scratching, weighing scales, bowl of water, simple electrical circuits for conductivity testing, radiator for heat insulation etc

5.Report back. Focus on any debatable / unclear outcomes and what could be done to further test the material to gain clarity /which factors affected the validity of the tests (using that term overtly).

6.Plenary – have a display of objects, each one in turn described only by its properties – they work out which object you are discussing. Question why the object is made from those materials / its real-life application.

7.Show a key for identifying materials with more than one property; tell them that is what they will be designing next lesson.

8.Set homework if appropriate – a list of material properties for which they must find an example in use at home and why it is so used in that application for example.

Some lessons’ content is are more theory / visual learning presentation such as when learning about the Earth’s movement in space; where an investigation is possible, it is the approach we use.

Impact

By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to know, apply and understand the matters, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study. Children through monitoring are increasingly able to articulate their growing knowledge of Scientific concepts and facts (in so far as anything is ever established as irrefutable fact in science on principle). Investments in technology are being made to improve the links between computing and science.

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