At English Martyrs Catholic Primary School, we encourage children to be inquisitive throughout their time at the school and beyond. The Science curriculum fosters a healthy curiosity in children about our universe and promotes respect for the living and non-living. We believe science encompasses the acquisition of knowledge, concepts, skills and positive attitudes. Throughout the programmes of study, the children will acquire and develop the key knowledge that has been identified within each unit and across each year group. The key knowledge identified by each year group is informed by the national curriculum and builds towards identified phase ‘end points’ in accordance with NC expectations. Key skills are also mapped for each year group and are progressive throughout the school. These too ensure systematic progression to identified skills end points which are in accordance with the Working Scientifically skills expectations of the national curriculum.
The curriculum is designed to ensure that children are able to acquire key scientific knowledge through practical experiences; using equipment, conducting experiments, building arguments and explaining concepts confidently. The school’s approach to science takes account of the school’s own context, ensuring access to people with specialist expertise and places of scientific interest as part of the school’s commitment to learning outside the classroom. Cross-curricular opportunities are also identified, mapped and planned to ensure contextual relevance. Children are encouraged to ask questions and be curious about their surroundings and a love of science is nurtured through a whole school ethos and a varied science curriculum.
Teachers create a positive attitude to science learning within their classrooms and reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in science.
Each new unit of work begins with a recap of the previous related knowledge from previous years. This helps children to retrieve what they have learnt in the earlier sequence of the programme of study, and ensures that new knowledge is taught in the context of previous learning to promote a shift in long term memory. Key vocabulary for the new topic is also introduced as part of this ‘Knowledge Organiser’. This provides definitions and accompanying visuals for each word to ensure accessibility to all. This approach also means that children are able to understand the new vocabulary when it is used in teaching and learning activities and apply it themselves when they approach their work.
Once children know the new vocabulary for the unit and how it relates to previous learning, the children are asked what they already know specifically about the new topic. This provides the teacher with an insight into the children’s ‘starting points’ for the topic, to enable the use of assessment to inform planning. A record of this process is kept in children’s Science books . At the end of the topic, children revisit the ‘Before and After Test’ to review what they now know. The teacher is then able consolidate any of the key knowledge which is identified at this part of the process as not yet being secure.
Through our planning, we involve problem solving opportunities that allow children to apply their knowledge, and find out answers for themselves. Children are encouraged to ask their own questions and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover the answers. This curiosity is celebrated within the classroom. Planning involves teachers creating engaging lessons, often involving high-quality resources to aid understanding of conceptual knowledge. Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual knowledge and skills, and assess pupils regularly to identify those children with gaps in learning, so that all pupils keep up. Tasks are selected and designed to provide appropriate challenge to all learners, in line with the school’s commitment to inclusion.
We build upon the knowledge and skill development of the previous years. As the children’s knowledge and understanding increases, they become more proficient in selecting, using scientific equipment, collating and interpreting results, they become increasingly confident in their growing ability to come to conclusions based on real evidence. Children know exactly what is expected of them through a sheet titled ‘Knowledge and Understanding’ at the front of their Science books which details all the topics they cover throughout the year.
Working Scientifically skills are embedded into lessons to ensure that skills are systematically developed throughout the children’s school career and new vocabulary and challenging concepts are introduced through direct teaching. This is developed through the years, in keeping with the topics. A ‘Working Scientifically Butterfly’ is stuck at the front of the pupils’ books and a WS skill is placed on titles for each lesson. Pupils colour in the butterfly according to whatever skill they focus on in a given lesson to ensure coverage of skills is monitored.
Regular events, such as British Science Week and Mars Day, allow all pupils to come off-timetable, to provide broader provision and the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills. These events often involve families and the wider community.
The successful approach at English Martyrs results in a fun, engaging, high-quality science education that provides children with the foundations and knowledge for understanding the world. Our engagement with the local environment ensures that children learn through varied and first hand experiences of the world around them. Frequent, continuous and progressive learning outside the classroom is embedded throughout the science curriculum.
Through various workshops, trips and interactions with experts, children have the understanding that science has changed our lives and that it is vital to the world’s future prosperity. Children learn the possibilities for careers in science, as a result of our community links and connection with national agencies including the STEM association. They learn from and work with professionals, ensuring access to positive role models within the field of science from the immediate and wider local community. From this exposure to a range of different scientists from various backgrounds, all children feel they are scientists and capable of achieving.
Children at English Martyrs overwhelmingly enjoy science and this results in motivated learners with sound scientific understanding. The school’s science provision is recognised by the achievement of the nationally recognised ‘Primary Science Quality Mark’, which the school currently holds at ‘Gilt’ level.