Science comes from the Latin word ‘scire’ meaning to know.
Our definition for KS2- Science is the study of the structure and behaviour of the natural and physical world.
Our definition for Foundation and KS1- Science is learning about the world around us.
The study of science allows children to gain the knowledge and methods needed to answer questions they have about the world and how it works. Through science, children gain a sense of awe and wonder about their natural world and learn to explain their thinking in a rational and articulate way. It makes children aware of the way science has changed our lives and its uses and implications for today and the future.
“The world is full of wonders, but they become more wonderful, not less wonderful when science looks at them.”
Sir David Attenborough
We want our children to leave Bishop Alexander LEAD Academy being resilient, responsible, respectful, aspirational, caring and independent (our school values). We also want our children to ‘broaden their horizons’ and have knowledge of the world outside our school. We want to make a difference in the lives of our children and ensure that they have a life-long passion for learning. Science supports these aspirations for our children in many different ways.
We ‘bring learning to life’ to ensure that they are passionate about science and, as we know social mobility is low in Newark, we try to give children scientific experiences and opportunities to observe the natural world through trips and residentials. We make sure that there are lots of opportunities for outdoor and physical learning experiences to excite children. We aim for the children to have a minimum of one science based trip through their time in each phase – ranging from trips to farms, the great outdoors and science and technology centres.
Through our science curriculum we aim to provide the foundations for the children to understand the world and how it works through the three main concepts of science: physics, biology and chemistry. Although taught discretely, we want children to make links and generalise between these concepts. We ensure that children work scientifically and a range of enquiry types are used to deliver all of the key concepts. Science is a hugely important subject, especially in a world where we are so reliant on science to make positive changes for humanity and the living world. We want our children to have the knowledge to understand the natural and physical world and to have the skills to find out the answers to the questions they don’t yet know the answers to. We aim for the children to develop a rich and varied bank of scientific terms and vocabulary which they can confidently draw upon to explain their understanding in an articulate way.
Through our teaching we consistently aim to raise awareness of science as a subject and as a potential career field for the future. The children should leave our school knowing that there are opportunities to study science at a higher level and that there are a vast range of careers for which science knowledge and skills are applied.
The children should develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be able to relate new experiences to existing knowledge in order to help them make sense of what they observe. Our children will not be limited by their starting points or life experiences. We will bring the experiences to them.
How do we teach Science?
Our topics are structured so that the children can work through 3 key concepts of science: physics, biology and chemistry. All concepts are taught through scientific enquiry and develop a range of working scientifically skills.
Physics – Physics is the science of forces and the behaviour of the material universe.
Bishop Alexander’s areas of study include forces, light, sound, electricity, Earth and beyond
Biology – Biology is the science of living organisms and their interactions with each other and the environment.
Bishop Alexander’s areas of study include humans, human health, animals, plants, habitats
Chemistry – Chemistry is the science of the structure, properties and reactions of materials.
Bishop Alexander’s areas of study include properties of materials, changes to materials
The programmes of study describe a sequence of knowledge and concepts across each area of science. While it is important that pupils make progress, it is also vitally important that they develop secure understanding of each key block of knowledge and concepts in order to progress to the next stage. Insecure, superficial understanding will not allow genuine progression: pupils may struggle at key points of transition, build up serious misconceptions, and/or have significant difficulties in understanding higher-order content. Through making staff and children aware of the links between areas of study across phases – there is a better understanding for the need to have secure understanding at each stage.
The Foundation Stage offers a strong grounding of many scientific skills and concepts. Children consider similarities and differences in relation to places, objects, materials and living things. They talk about the features of their own immediate environment and how environments might vary and make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes. After this grounding, the children begin to engage with the more formal areas of science as they move into KS1 and beyond, as outlined below.
Objectives are assigned to each phase. This allows for more flexibility in terms of science units aligning with the school topic areas over the course of a two year cycle and therefore opportunities for deeper levels of learning.
Throughout our school we believe that science should be taught through enquiry. We are passionate about children discovering science facts rather than just being presented with them. Time is allowed for groups and individuals to play with and explore the resources and then, through a range of different types of enquiry, the children ask questions and consider what they observe. Well organised enquiries and careful questioning allow children to build up their own knowledge based on what they already know and what they experience.
Teaching through enquiry
The main types of enquiry used to facilitate the learning of scientific knowledge at Bishop Alexander are observing over time; pattern seeking; classifying and grouping; research using secondary sources and comparative and fair testing. Across a unit of work the most appropriate enquiry type will be used to deliver the science concepts and will allow for a range of scientific skills to be developed.
Working scientifically objectives have been grouped into the key skills areas which are required for successful investigations and enquiries to take place. It is expected that over the course of a year the children will have opportunity to develop the skills from all key skill areas but it is likely that only one area will be the focus for a particular lesson or even unit. The key skill areas at Bishop Alexander are questioning and planning; observing; investigating; analysing; concluding and evaluating and recording and reporting. The skills of working scientifically are built up over time and are matched to suit the enquiry
Lessons begin with a stimulus which engages the children in thinking scientifically about concept they are studying. Concept cartoons allow a structured approach or Explorify gives opportunity for children to think more creatively. Children are then informed of what they will be learning and how this relates to what they already know and how it will support their learning in the future. Caution has to be given when sharing particular objectives so as not to ‘give away’ the outcomes of an investigation. Vocabulary will be shared and discussed and will be referred to throughout the lesson. The children will then partake in an appropriate enquiry to either discover or prove a scientific fact or to deepen their understanding of it. All children will have the opportunity to run the enquiry at a level that is appropriate to them. Work will be scaffolded for those who need it and those with strong enquiry techniques will be given more autonomy to drive the enquiry in their preferred way. The lessons will conclude with reference to how the lesson content relates to everyday life – a scientist and their work may be discussed or and invention or discovery shared.
Written work in lessons is kept to a minimum with a focus on simply noting key facts and using drawings to explain what they observe. Once the unit is complete, the children write a non-chronological report to demonstrate their knowledge.
The children know that science is a practical part of the curriculum in which they get to explore and develop an understanding of the world around them. We structure our curriculum using whole school topics and we focus on specific subjects in blocks over a number of weeks. This enables us to go deeper into subjects and to make meaningful connections with other subjects.
In addition to our curriculum science, each year we celebrate British Science Week in the spring. Children feel excited to be part of a national event and can start to see that science is not merely a lesson that is taught in school. We also run successful family learning projects at this time which encourage children to partake in science based learning at home with their families. In addition – children across the school are regularly invited to activities run by LEAD Academy Trust and the local secondary schools where they get to work on STEM projects with children from other schools.
We are delighted to have been awarded the Primary Science Quality Mark. This award is recognition of our school’s commitment to excellence in science teaching and learning and is credit to all the hard work of the staff and children. We have also been awarded the Terrific Scientific School of Excellence Award to mark our commitment to investigational work in UKS2. As a result of the schools commitment to quality science, our science leader works as a Specialist Leader in Education and advices on science across the trust.