Science Curriculum Rationale
At Hillcrest Primary we are scientists! We want our children to love science. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be astronauts, forensic scientists, toxicologists or microbiologists. We want them to embody our core values. We all believe that: “All children can learn and discover together to create a better world”. The science curriculum has been carefully crafted so that our children develop their scientific capital. We want our children to remember their science lessons in our school, to cherish these memories and embrace the scientific opportunities they are presented with! Recently, our pupils took part in a nationals STEM competition, ‘If you were an Engineer what would you do?’ The competition encourages pupils from primary schools across the UK to look at the world around them and find engineered solutions to common problems. As part of the competition pupils interview engineering professionals, identify a problem and design a solution to it enabling them to be inspired by engineering professionals and ‘find the engineer they could be’ by designing the future of engineering. What a memorable learning experience it was!
The science curriculum promotes curiosity and a love and thirst for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient – like all curriculum areas.
We want to equip them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the science National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of later life. For example, we have a wonderful school allotment where the children frequently visit. The children cultivate and harvest what they grow every year. The crops are often used to create soups in design technology and are sold as part of mini-enterprise initiatives.
We want our children to use the vibrancy of our great city to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the science curriculum. For example, our pupil visited Ashford Water Treatment Centre in order to explore how water is treated. They also explored the local reservoir to see the impact on the local habitats and ecosystem and looked at the challenges local authorities face when weighing up human health versus impact on the environment.
We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. For example, earlier this year our children visited Bristol Aerospace Museum and embarked on an exciting journey through time from the earliest days of powered flight to the cutting-edge technology of tomorrow. They discovered the fascinating role that Bristol played in the history of aviation and stories of the remarkable people who made this possible and explored the physics of rocketry before designing and testing their very own rockets - just like the engineers of Filton’s Dynamics and Space Division. We firmly believe that it is not just about what happens in the classroom, it is about the added value we offer to really inspire our children.
The science curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities and assessment milestones for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key learning, knowledge and skills. For example, the way materials is taught in our school has been adapted so that it is revisited in each phase. In KS1, the children tackle ‘Everyday Materials’ where they look at the practical uses of everyday materials. In lower KS2, Year 4 explore ‘States of Matter’ and look at solids, liquids and gases, changes of state, evaporation, condensation and the water cycle. In upper KS2, Year 5 the children face ‘Materials – Properties and Changes’ where they examine changes to materials that create new materials that are usually not reversible.
Science subject specific characteristics, which we expect the children to demonstrate, underpin all work in science and form a focal point for display areas and provide a common subject specific vocabulary for staff and pupils.
Our short-term plans are produced on a weekly and daily basis. We use these to set out the learning objectives for each lesson, identifying engaging activities and resources which will be used to achieve them.
We encourage staff to teach science (history and geography) through an enquiry question, for instance in Year 2 ‘What is home?’ The knowledge linked to each enquiry has been deliberately chosen to be connected, cumulative and coherent. This helps to ensure sufficient time is allocated to science and that scientific subject matter can be revisited frequently. Our teachers link prior knowledge to new learning in order to deepen understanding. For example in Year 2 when the children explore ‘Living things and their habitats – What is home?’ they also tackle; the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child, every child has the right to food, water, and home and protection in philosophy, use the text ‘The Rainbow Bear’ by Michael Morpurgo in English and use illustrations in ‘Window’ by Jeannie Baker as inspiration for their collage in art and design. Our children are taught the right, connected knowledge.
We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught, to alter their long-term memory and thus improve the rates of progress they make.
We use both formative and summative assessment information in every science lesson. Staff use this information to inform their short-term planning and short-term interventions. This helps us provide the best possible support for all of our pupils, including the more able. The assessment milestones for each phase have been carefully mapped out and further broken down for each year group. This means that skills in science are progressive and build year on year.
Our staff use science formative assessment grids to systematically assess what the children know as the topic progresses and inform their future planning. These formative assessment grids then inform summative assessment judgements for each enquiry.
Assessment information is collected frequently and analysed as part of our monitoring cycle. This process provides an accurate and comprehensive understanding of the quality of education in science. A comprehensive monitoring cycle is developed at the beginning of each academic year. This identifies when monitoring is undertaken. Monitoring in science includes: pupil book, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice.
All of this information is gathered and reviewed. It is used to inform further curriculum developments and provision is adapted accordingly.
At Hillcrest Primary School, we are SCIENTISTS!