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, engineers 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.
Our science curriculum is designed in a way to stop pupils in their tracks and question the world around them. Through discussion, observation and investigations pupils are empowered to continue asking questions and through their resilience they become determined in finding answers.
We want to equip them with not only with the minimum statutory requirements of the science National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences in real life. In Year 6, they deepen their understanding of circuits, where they investigate how cells and voltage affect the components of a circuit. They also compare the difference between a series circuit and a parallel circuit. They then link this understanding with D.T. to create a model of a house, which has lights on inside that would switch off if a door or window was opened.
We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities which are normally out of reach – this piques their passions and new interests. For example, Year 4 pupils attend a residential trip to Magdalen Farm, where pupils learn about organic produce both in animal husbandry and growing crops.
We firmly believe that it is not just about what happens in the classroom, it is also about the cultural capital of where our school is, which helps to inspire our children further. We are passionate about connecting with local companies and experts. For instance, Reception visit Redcatch Community Garden where they look at beehives and taste honey. They also investigate minibeasts in the garden and then went on to grow their own garlic, broad beans and sunflowers.
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. In Term 2, our year 5 pupils explore ‘How can Science help the homeless?’. They applied their understanding of materials and their properties to design a tent for homeless people, where they considered warmer and colder climates and then make their own flapjacks, which they donate to a local soup run.
The science curriculum has been carefully built and the learning opportunities and assessment milestone for each year group crafted to ensure progression and repetition in terms of embedding key language, knowledge and skills.
With teachers using the Curriculum with Unity Schools Partnership to support planning our exciting science curriculum and pupils writing through enquiry, children are using scientific language with greater ease and understanding. They relish conversations with their peers in school and at home during retrieval discussions with their families and when writing extended pieces of writing or investigations during lessons.
Arming our pupils with a can do attitude is at the heart of what we do here at Hillcrest. With daily quizzes to help pupils practise and embed their science knowledge, pupils dive for their knowledge organisers and have in depth conversations with their peers.
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, challenge misconceptions and using resources to give children a hands on experience regardless of what age.
Parents feel very much part of their child’s learning journey as weekly retrieval homework questions help to embed their children’s knowledge further and they feel excited to take them out on a day trip to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery or We the Curious to check out a range of exhibitions.
We encourage staff to teach science through an enquiry question, for instance in Year 1 ‘What grows near me?’ children identify common and wild plants and trees in Arnos Vale cemetery. They then identify differences between fruit and vegetables and create rainbow kebabs as inspired by their health benefits.
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 each year. For example, in Year 2 their enquiry question is ‘How do plants grow near me?’ and then in Year 3 they look to answer ‘How do plants thrive?’ 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 enquiry. Staff use this information to inform their planning. 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 a class assessment grid after each science lesson, where they review pupil’s contributions to group or class discussion and their independent work to ascertain as to whether they have met the learning intention for that day. This information contributes to teacher’s future planning to ensure that pupils have a secure understanding of the science curriculum. If needed, additional lessons are provided later in the year to plug any gaps in their learning and challenge any misconceptions.
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: class assessment grids, pupil book look, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil/parent and/or staff voice.
In year 6, pupils also complete an optional Science SAT paper three times a year to identify whether pupils have retained the scientific knowledge and skills taught throughout their journey in primary school. If needed, additional lessons or adjustments to planning by teachers are made to help bridge any gaps in their learning to help prepare them for secondary school.
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!