Science Lead - Mrs Rachael Cuthbert (until July 2022) / Mr Alex McDougall (from September 2022)
Our Science Intent statement.
We want our children to be able to think like scientists, talk like scientists, read like scientists and write like scientists.
Science in the Early Years
Children start their science learning journey as soon as they enter our Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). Using Development Matters (July, 2021), we have carefully mapped out a curriculum which ensures children are continually focused on working towards meeting the goals set out in the ‘Understanding of the World’ section of the Development Matters document (section 9). We have supplemented this guidance with PLAN resources (https://www.planassessment.com/), which have allowed us to build a broad, balanced and progressive curriculum, whilst ensuring key vocabulary and outcomes are woven into our EYFS science long-term plan. Our children begin to develop their scientific vocabulary from the very start of their education and our aim is for them to be ready to progress into Key Stage 1 (KS1) at the end of EYFS. The units studied during the Early Years mirror those studied in KS1 and Key Stage 2 (KS2) and are headed under the broader areas of biology, chemistry and physics: animals, excluding humans; humans; living things and their habitats; plants; seasonal changes; materials, including changing materials; electricity; light; forces; sound; and earth and space.
Science in KS1 and KS2
We have specifically written the first unit of science for our KS1 children. Our ‘We Are Scientists!’ unit introduces children to science and the five enquiry types: grouping and classifying; observing over time; pattern seeking; comparative and fair testing; and research. Through the poetry text, ‘Not All Scientists Wear Lab Coats!’, children explore different areas of science through the five enquiry types, whilst developing their natural curiosity and ability to ask and answer questions. They examine stereotypes of what a scientist looks like and through discussion and investigation, they challenge these stereotypes and develop an awareness and understanding that anyone can be a scientist, including them!
From Autumn 2 of KS1 through to Year 6, we follow the National Curriculum for science which has been carefully mapped out across a 2-year cycle to ensure full coverage of all National Curriculum science objectives. Medium term plans have been specifically written to support the implementation of the long term plan and to ensure essential knowledge is being taught at each key stage, which allows children to progress into the next key stage, confidently. Having a carefully written plan also ensures a good balance and breadth of teaching for acquiring scientific knowledge and for developing working scientifically skills through the five enquiry types. Our plans are working documents and regular professional discussions between the science lead and teaching staff, ensure we are reviewing and reflecting on our practice regularly and working together to strive for excellence in our science teaching and learning.
Our overarching aim is that we want our children to be able to think like scientists, talk like scientists, read like scientists and write like scientists.
In order to achieve this, we use various resources, including Hamilton Trust, Developing Experts and Deepening Understanding, as well as providing opportunities for science learning to be linked to other subject areas where appropriate, such as Maths, Design and Technology (D&T), English, PSHCE and Physical Education (P.E.). Explorify (https://explorify.uk/en/activities) is also used in some of our science lessons, which promotes scientific thinking and discussion and allows children to practice and develop their reasoning skills in different contexts.
In addition to this, we have recently introduced a list of recommended fiction and non-fiction texts for each science unit. These can be shared at story time, provide a stimulus for learning during the lesson and/or form part of our whole class guided reading core texts. For example, children in KS1 study the text ‘A Planet full of Plastic’ and ‘The Clue is in the Poo’, whilst children in Lower Key Stage 2 (LKS2) study ‘The Lost Species’, 'Tin Forest' and ‘The Street Beneath My Feet’. All classes have at least one science-based text on their ‘Top 10 Recommended Reads’, which they read throughout the year with their class teacher.
Our science curriculum is accessible for all children, yet provides appropriate challenge for higher attainers. Our science curriculum aims to meet the needs of all our learners through providing opportunities for children to express their understanding in different ways, for example through verbal presentations, creating models, posters or written reports.
By providing opportunities for exploration, children, regardless of their previous experiences, are able to gain first-hand experiences and build on their own scientific knowledge and understanding, which can then be built upon through discussions with their peers and class teacher, and further developed through the teaching and learning of new knowledge, which is then explored and tested out through investigative work. Children are encouraged to work collaboratively, to ask questions and develop ways of answering them in order to drive their learning forward.
Our science curriculum also provides opportunities for children to revise and recall their prior learning as they move through school. This is usually through quizzes, games or other practical activities. These activities provide explicit opportunities for children to make direct links between prior and current learning.
Another way in which we aim to meet the needs of all learners in science is through consistency. In every classroom throughout KS1 and KS2 you will see EnquiringScience4All posters (https://seerih-innovations.org/enquiringscience4all/) displaying the five enquiry types. You will also see Primary Science Teaching Trust (PSTT) symbols (https://pstt.org.uk/resources/curriculum-materials/enquiry-skills) highlighting the working scientifically skills. Teachers are encouraged to refer to these during lessons and as children move through school, the aim is for them to develop an immediate recognition of the symbols and their meaning. Every unit of science also has an accompanying @MrWebbCornish vocabulary mat. These dual coded word mats aid memory and recall of scientific vocabulary, as every time a key word appears, regardless of the unit or year group, it is accompanied by the same black and white image taken from The Noun Project (https://thenounproject.com/).
For children who have specific needs and are unable to access classroom learning, we also have other resources available in school, such as the PSTT ‘Science in My Pocket’ activity bags, which can be used with children from Nursery to Year 6 and have been developed specifically for use with children who need emotional / behavioural support
As well as delivering the expectations of the National Curriculum for science, we also want our children to understand that a career in science can be for anyone, including them, and as well as our core curriculum and we have provided additional, extra-curricular activities that develop the science capital of our children. These ceased during lockdown, but we are working on setting up these opportunities again, as well as exploring others.
For more information on what science capital is, please watch the video, below:
In order to develop the science capital of our children, we have linked with local businesses and also STEM Ambassadors to bring science to life for our children and provide a solid link to real-life contexts and industry, where children can meet experts face-to-face, ask them questions and challenge the stereotypical view of a scientist. Please see the photos of our extra-curricular experiences, which are also briefly listed, below:
- STEM Ambassadors have been invited into school to share their expert knowledge of a particular area of science and/or carry out a science workshop with our children.
- The AMRC in Sheffield, have provided STEM Ambassadors to carry out whole school assemblies and also STEM workshops for KS2 in Robotics and 3D printing.
- We have taken part in the annual Primary Engineer ‘If you were an engineer, what would you do?’ competition, where children are encouraged to think of a real-life problem and invent a solution. In 2019, prior to lockdown, we saw 294 children gain a PASS, 18 children received a MERIT and 6 children were chosen as finalists and were awarded a DISTINCTION for their ideas. The work of the finalists was displayed in a public gallery at the AMRC in Sheffield.
- We joined the Primary Engineer Leaders Award. After a whole school STEM week focused on ‘Structures and Mechanisms with Basic Electrics’, all children in school from Nursery to Year 6 made vehicles. At the end of the week, two groups of Year 5 children were selected to attend a celebration day at the AMRC in Sheffield. During the day, they had to discuss their motorised vehicles with a panel of judges and put them through a number of challenges, including driving them up a ramp which increased in gradient each time. Our teams did such an amazing job and… One of our teams won!
- Bird Man came into school and gave an assembly to every year group from Nursery to Year 6. He brought a number of birds of prey into school to show the children and discussed their appearance (EYFS), diets (KS1/LKS2) and evolution (UKS2). The children also got to see an eagle in flight and have their photos with a bird of prey.
- Prior to lockdown, we also had a weekly lunchtime STEM Club, which focussed on developing the vocabulary and scientific thinking skills of selected pupil premium children.
Class teachers also set homework projects throughout the year, which link to the learning that has taken place in school. These allow children to share their knowledge with their family and create a project, which showcases their understanding of what they have learned.
For the past 2 years, we have been the lead school for the Town Centre Collaboration ENTHUSE Partnership, which we formed with three of our town centre collaboration schools: Gawber Primary School, Keresforth Primary School, and Holy Rood Catholic Primary School. The science leaders from each school have met half termly (when restrictions have allowed) and together we have planned, developed and delivered CPD for teaching staff across the partnership. The ENTHUSE partnership has provided valuable funding, which has enabled all the science leads to take part in relevant science CPD delivered by either the STEM Learning Centre in York or our Local Science Learning Partnership. The knowledge gained from these sessions has been cascaded back to teaching staff and used to develop our individual curriculum plans.
As our ENTHUSE Partnership ended in December 2021, a new opportunity arose and our science lead was asked to be the Deputy Lead of a new ENTHUSE Partnership, set up by our local secondary school, Horizon Community College. This partnership involves us supporting other local primary schools with science and also provides us with opportunities to work closely with the science department at Horizon CC to develop a fluid transition from Year 6 to Year 7.