Intent: How we aim to grow scientists
All pupils at Plympton St Mary Infants and Old Priory Junior Academy (St. Mary’s Priory Schools) are entitled to be taught the key knowledge and skills in the scientific disciplines to develop understanding of the world around them at an age-appropriate level and in line with the National Curriculum.
We aim to harness children’s natural excitement and curiosity and inspire them to pursue scientific enquiry. Throughout the primary years, children should learn to explain and analyse phenomena, make predictions and solve problems.
Teachers should aim to nurture a love for the natural world, excitement for future possibilities in science and provide many opportunities for pupils to respond creatively in their learning.
Implementation: Our pedagogy in science
The National Curriculum statutory requirements must be taught and assessed in each year as a basic minimum. Teachers should be familiar with previous and subsequent year groups’ content in order to link learning and build on previous knowledge. They should also be aware of where a unit of work fits in with the bigger picture of the science curriculum across the primary school – this is essential in ensuring key knowledge is taught and assessed to maintain progression through the curriculum.
Assessment for learning is used continually to adapt teaching to meet the needs of the pupils.
Teachers are encouraged to follow children’s interests and lines of inquiry without encroaching on the content taught in other year groups.
Science must be taught discretely each week by the class teacher in line with the timings of the year group weekly timetable (2 hours per week). One hour must be a pure science lesson, while the second hour may be combined on the timetable with another curriculum area (for example, guided reading, writing or maths), when an authentic link can be made. Curriculum content should not be blocked into intensive ‘science days’ or ‘science week’.
Science content being covered through a cross-curricular approach must include a learning objective taken from the year group’s science curriculum and recorded in the science exercise book.
STEAM and Discovery Learning are opportunities for pupils to apply, practise and embed what they have been taught – new knowledge or skills should not be introduced for the first time in these sessions.
Any changes must be discussed beforehand with the subject leader.
Planning and resourcing
Teachers planning science must consult the front covers for each unit to identify key learning objectives. These are to be used as a starting point to be adapted as used to meet the needs of the pupils.
Teachers may develop their own resources or source from elsewhere. The subject leader can be consulted at any time to assist with planning, resourcing or support with subject knowledge.
The PLAN matrices https://www.ase.org.uk/resources/plan-matrices can be used to support planning in depth coverage of each objective, identifying key vocabulary for each topic and suggestions for further learning applications suitable for discovery learning.
Each topic covered must include working scientifically lessons, teachers can refer to year group Ogden Overviews to ensure coverage across all strands of WS. Teachers can refer to our skills progression document to ensure specific year group coverage and a progression throughout the school.
Scientific enquiry should be question-led and (over the academic year) must include: observing over time; pattern seeking; identifying, classifying and grouping; comparative and fair testing (controlled investigations); and researching using secondary sources. In order to secure conceptual understanding, key knowledge and skills must be taught prior to engaging in enquiry. The subject leader can be consulted for help in identifying and planning suitable opportunities for enquiry in each topic.
Language for learning
Time should be taken to identify and teach the specialist vocabulary associated with each topic (bank of key words for each topic in every year group to be taken from the planning matrices document at https://www.ase.org.uk/resources/plan-matrices). Teachers can also refer to each unit’s front sheet for relevant vocabulary. Teachers should refer to our Vocabulary Progression document to ensure progression throughout the school.
Vocabulary should be displayed on a working wall/Vocab wall in all classrooms; and, in KS2, form part of a title page in exercise books at the start of each unit of work. Teachers should further embed vocabulary using definitions, images and actions to teach, practise and aid recall from memory. This vocabulary practice should form part of a mini starter activity in every lesson.
Particular attention should be paid to identifying possible misconceptions or confusion with language when a familiar word has a specific meaning in science, e.g. ‘conductor, key, theory, law, reliability, solution, prediction etc.’ Children should learn to spell scientific vocabulary correctly, at an age appropriate level.
Children should be given opportunities to pronounce vocabulary correctly (e.g. in chorus, in a pair, when answering questions), to use it in context and to revisit the words and meanings regularly throughout the topic.
Science in the EYFS
Science is explored through the children’s understanding of the world and elements of technology. We provide opportunities for children to question, wonder, explore, discover, experiment and observe through direct experiences. The children are introduced to scientific vocabulary to help them further their understanding and are asked open-ended questions, so that they can make predictions and have opportunities to question. Our Early Years provision ensures that children have access to a range of materials that work in different ways for various purposes. Children can use resources and the environment around them to notice similarities and differences, changes over time and discuss their point of view with their peers.
Impact: Evaluating the curriculum and pedagogy by assessing learning in science
Teachers should plan regular opportunities for pupils to check how well they are learning what they have been taught (for example through no/low-stakes quizzing, vocabulary checks, concept cartoons, multiple choice hinge questions). This develops metacognitive awareness and self-regulation strategies in pupils and informs the teacher in planning next steps in learning, making adjustments as needed. Teachers should create a cold and hot task for each unit to look for progression through a unit.
The National Curriculum calls for opportunities for pupils to: Communicate ideas to a range of audiences in a variety of ways. Each topic taught must lead towards an outcome in which pupils are asked to create an individual response to an open question. This could involve project work over several sessions, writing an explanation, creating a poster, small group discussion with an adult assessor, creating a presentation, etc. The variety in pupils’ responses, the correct use of scientific language, explanation of concepts and application of knowledge will assist teachers in assessing the depth at which each pupil has learned the material they have been taught.
Discovery Learning and STEAM sessions also give further opportunities for teachers to gather additional information to assess pupils’ learning as they apply their scientific knowledge in producing creative and original work.
The Plan Primary Science Assessment Resources (https://www.ase.org.uk/plan) can be used to support teacher assessment of pupils’ learning with exemplifications of every topic in each year group. Teachers can also access our test papers for each unit if required.
The subject leader can offer support at any time with identifying opportunities for, and devising suitable assessment approaches or open questions.
- The impact for pupils will be that they: Become resilient, independent and curious scientists who ask questions which are increasingly based on scientific understandings and finding things out for themselves
- Science will be a high-profile subject throughout the school
- Parents and the wider community will support science learning through trips and visits on regular basis where appropriate
- Children will have an awareness of the full range of scientific careers and pathways available to them and will be keen to pursue STEM subjects at secondary school
- Children will leave for secondary school equipped with the science knowledge and skills needed to succeed in their further education.
Revised December 2020