Relevant and meaningful Science ensures that our pupils relate the science they are learning to their own lives as well as working with contexts in the wider world.
St Mary’s provides access to all science subject knowledge and working scientifically objectives in a range of contexts to support the embedding of these concepts and skills. Each unit outlines:
the intentions for teaching and learning, including learning objectives (all of which are taken from the Programme of Study for Science, England);
identification of misconceptions that pupils might hold in different areas of learning;
key scientific vocabulary (with definitions);
‘Get started’ and ‘Let’s think like scientists’ – we include a ‘Get started’ opener which provides ideas for eliciting prior learning from previous activities as well as personal experiences at home and in the locality. ‘Let’s think like scientists’ provides questions to ask to encourage critical thinking and research, thus extending and challenging the pupils.
Relevant and meaningful Science ensures that the science contexts are meaningful by setting content in a range of interesting contexts that are relevant to the pupils. It ensures that our pupils relate the science they are learning to their own lives as well as working with contexts in the wider world.
Practical activity is at the core of Science at St Mary’s. We develop pupils as independent learners who are curious and willing to ask and answer their own questions. Throughout the various units, we develop approaches which scaffold pupils in asking a range of questions and making their own decisions about how to answer them using the five scientific enquiry activities. Linked to developing pupil’s independence, we create opportunities where pupils are challenged to reflect on their learning through discussing ideas with adults and their peers, thereby articulating their learning.
Progressing pupil’s ability to communicate their understanding and explain their reasoning is central to primary science. There is an expectation that pupils should not only be able to talk about what they have been doing, but also why and what they have learned.
Everything a pupil does and thinks in science is important, so it is crucial that activities provide regular opportunities for pupils to engage in hands on practical activity as well as think about or research scientific ideas and skills.
Throughout the scheme pupils are engaged in asking questions and using one of the five science enquiry activities:
observation over time
fair or comparative tests
identification and classification
All activities are planned so that they are relevant to the learning outcomes and pupil’s experiences, ensuring that they are timely and meaningful. Where appropriate they are hands-on, ensuring that pupils engage in regular first-hand experience using a range of equipment, including ICT where suitable, to enhance and deepen learning. Pupils are asked to communicate their science using different approaches, e.g. writing, drama, poetry, discussion, modelling and using ICT (to create video clips, etc.). Engaging pupils in a range of approaches to communicating science ensures that all pupils can share ideas and by listening to themselves articulate ideas, pupils engage in self assessment, either reinforcing their learning or changing ideas and therefore moving learning on.
By using different approaches to recording and communicating, all pupils can share their science, which means that teachers can access learning through assessment and use outcomes to plan next steps.
Key scientific vocabulary is shared with pupils the expectation that these words should be learned. A pupil’s ability to use scientific words appropriately is an indicator of understanding of knowledge and skills. Teachers use a pupil’s ability to use key words as part of assessment for learning, listening for how the words are used and, if necessary, asking follow-up questions to check depth of understanding.
Pupils develop their knowledge and skills through a series of planned activities linked to the curriculum which build on previous and personal knowledge. To assess the impact, teachers evaluate the knowledge and skills that pupils have gained against the original expectations of activities (the intent). This is indicated by the outcomes assigned to each activity. What and how well pupils have achieved will be accessed through using a range of approaches to assessment for learning. It is important that assessment supports a pupil’s journey through the science curriculum to ensure appropriate outcomes for each individual.
Assessment is an integral part of activities. The learning objectives at the beginning of each activity show the intention for learning and these are then used as the basis for assessment, the criteria for which are outlined in the assessment section, split into subject knowledge and working scientifically.
Assessment statements are differentiated so that our teachers can assess the progress of different groups in their classroom, suggesting how the teacher could assess pupils. Teachers consider what to look for when carrying out a formative assessment and consider next steps for pupils.
Teachers observe children working, listen to their discussions and use questions to probe understanding and reasoning, alongside their writing and other products such as video clips, models and role play activities.
As pupils progress through the primary years, self and peer assessment is another approach to complement our teacher assessment. Not only does this develop a pupil’s ability to reflect on their own learning, it also provides teachers access to how well pupils perceive their learning to be progressing and why. A feature of our planning is the application of ‘Working Scientifically Skills’ and ‘Knowledge and Understanding’ through regular problem solving activities. Challenging pupils to apply their learning in new contexts provides opportunities for them to further embed ideas and skills. Assessing how pupils respond to applying their knowledge and skills is an indicator of how successful their leaning has been.