At Throckley Primary School, we know that a high-quality science education is the key to understanding the wider world through the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Thanks to science, our lives change for the better every day. Our children are taught to use science to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave and analyse causes- essential skills if they are to discover truth within an age of information. Science at Throckley allows children simultaneously to interpret the present and to craft the future; in this way, it not only enables but informs our curriculum drivers:
Understanding our place in the world
Science has changed lives throughout human history and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. This ensures children comprehend entirely the way all of our lives are interconnected and how we can exist and thrive on this planet.
Aspiring to achieve
Science is vital to the world’s prosperity; at Throckley, we guarantee our children a brighter future. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils recognise the power of rational explanation and demand more of their lives with the tools to make dreams become reality.
Science compels our children to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. By truly appreciating the nature of our existence, we can look to surpass what once seemed to be boundaries. Every enquiry, investigation, experiment and ‘WOW moment’ sows the seeds for ambition in the next generation.
Throughout their work in science, children encounter key concepts as they appreciate the work of significant people -pioneering scientists, past and present- and learn their rich stories. By putting the stories of these figures into context, we bring to life the sense of curiosity, exploration and discovery that drove them and, in turn, evoke these ambitions in our children. By the very nature of their learning and working scientifically, children explore:
Children and staff discover alongside each other in a respectful atmosphere where all questioning is encouraged and all ideas are promoted and analysed. Science is cross-curricular and values all learning as beneficial to society, nationally and internationally.
Children ask and answer their own questions of the natural world, appreciating the importance of learning via experience. They realise that information cannot be taken at face value and that it is up to them to query validity. Science holds their world to account.
Children gain responsibility when deciding what to do with the knowledge they acquire and the discoveries they make. Their decisions will be guided by the work of those in the past who worked in societies often opposed to their learning or wanted to control it. This power is at the heart of the morality of science.
The national curriculum for science aims to ensure that all pupils:
- develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics;
- develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them;
- are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.
Scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding
The curriculum at Throckley aims to found progress throughout a child’s school career by developing a secure understanding of each key block of knowledge and concepts at the relevant stage. Insecure, superficial understanding prevents genuine progression: pupils may struggle at key stage transitions, amass damaging misconceptions, or have significant difficulties in understanding higher-order content.
The social and economic implications of science are taught through the rich stories of significant people within the science curriculum, but also within the wider school curriculum: history, PSHE, etc.
The nature, processes and methods of science
‘Working scientifically’ is not taught as a separate strand but is interwoven with learning objectives and across year groups: KS1, LKS2 and UKS2. The notes and guidance give examples of how ‘working scientifically’ might be embedded within the content of biology, chemistry and physics, focusing on the key headings of scientific enquiry. These include: observing over time; pattern
seeking; identifying, classifying and grouping; comparative and fair testing (controlled investigations); and researching using secondary sources. Pupils seek answers to questions by collecting, analysing and presenting data applying their mathematical knowledge.
The national curriculum for science reflects the importance of spoken language in pupils’ development across the whole curriculum- cognitively, socially and linguistically. Children should be able to describe associated processes and key characteristics in common language, but they should also understand and apply technical, higher order terminology accurately and precisely. They must be assisted in making their thinking clear, to both themselves and others, and teachers should ensure they articulate scientific concepts clearly and precisely. Secure foundations are built by using discussion to probe and remedy children’s’ misconceptions.
By the end of each key stage, pupils are expected to retain, apply and understand the knowledge, skills and processes specified in the relevant programme of study.
Key Stage 1
The principal focus of science teaching in Key Stage 1 is to enable pupils to experience and observe phenomena, looking more closely at the natural and humanly-constructed world around them. They are encouraged to be curious and ask questions about what they notice. They are helped to develop their understanding of scientific ideas by using different types of scientific enquiry to answer their own questions, including observing changes over a period of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative tests, and finding things out using secondary sources of information. They begin to use simple scientific language to talk about what they have found out and communicate their ideas to a range of audiences in a variety of ways.
Children will learn about: animals, including humans; everyday materials and their uses; plants; and seasonal changes. Most of the learning about science should be done through the use of first-hand practical experiences, but there should also be some use of relevant secondary sources, such as books, photographs and videos.
They will explore the lives and rich stories of figures such as the inventor waterproof fabric, Charles Macintosh, as well as the famous plant hunter Mary Bowes of Gibside and her orangery of rare species. Learning about local and non-male pioneers of science at even this stage will continue to encourage ambition in all learners to pursue a career in science.
Lower Key Stage 2 - Year 3 and Year 4
The principal focus of science teaching in Lower Key Stage 2 is to enable pupils to broaden their scientific view of the world around them. They do this through exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments, and by beginning to develop their ideas about functions, relationships and interactions. Children ask their own questions about what they observe and make some decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering them, including observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative and fair tests and finding things out using secondary sources of information.
Children will learn about: animals, including humans; plants; rocks; light; forces and magnets; living things and their habitats; states of matter; sound; and electricity. They draw simple conclusions and use some scientific language, first, to talk about and, later, to write about what they have found out.
This will include more independent research into the lives of key figures; these include the famous local electrical pioneer, Joseph Swan of Cragside and the noted palaeontologist, Mary Anning, a fossil collector who changed ideas about pre-history. Children consider the achievements of these people against the context of the time they were living in; this will bolster the idea that scientific breakthroughs can often take place because of (or in spite of) competition between rivals, or despite being obstructed by an established scientific hegemony.
Upper KS2 - Year 5 and Year 6
The principal focus of science teaching in Upper Key Stage 2 is to enable pupils to develop a deeper understanding of a wide range of scientific ideas. They do this through exploring and talking about their ideas; asking their own questions about scientific phenomena; and analysing functions, relationships and interactions more systematically. Children select the most appropriate ways to answer science questions using different types of scientific enquiry, including observing changes over different periods of time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out comparative and fair tests and finding things out using a wide range of secondary sources of information.
Children will learn about: animals, including humans; living things and their habitats; properties and changes of materials; Earth and space; forces; evolution and inheritance; electricity; and light. They will draw conclusions based on their observations and data, use evidence to justify their ideas, and use their scientific knowledge and understanding to explain their findings.
They are expected to read, spell and pronounce scientific vocabulary correctly and broaden their scientific reading. As they encounter more abstract ideas, they begin to recognise how these ideas help them to understand and predict how the world operates. By studying the lives and work of Charles Darwin and David Attenborough, children begin to recognise that scientific ideas change and develop over time. The careers of figures such as Ruth Benerito will further inspire them to provide solutions for industry that can enrich their own future and that of others.