“The important thing is to never stop questioning.” - Albert Einstein
Science Lead - Mrs Jackie Warren
At St Dennis Primary Academy, we recognise the importance of science in every aspect of daily life. We have a shared understanding of the value of science, as a cross-curricular, core subject and the need to make science fun, enjoyable and accessible to all children.
We endeavour to foster children’s natural desire to be inquisitive, question why things happen and understand the way things work, developing and increasing children’s knowledge and understanding of our world.
Children will acquire key scientific knowledge through practical experiences; wherever possible and we endeavour to develop children’s understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of scientific enquiries. We will encourage children to respect their physical environment and the living organisms within them.
Our continuing aim is to ensure that children are equipped with the required knowledge and scientific enquiry skills to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.
Throughout the year groups, science has been carefully planned following the National Curriculum and Chris Quigley milestones which define the standards for the ‘Threshold Concepts’ and provide clarity about what is to be achieved at the end of each Key Stage. We have also identified the ‘critical knowledge and skills’ which children should achieve at the end of every year group and these build towards milestones.
Science (biology, chemistry and physics) is taught in planned blocks by the class teacher, within the half-termly topic around a key question. Learning is recorded in science books and class floor books. Children are encouraged to work as scientists, ask their own questions, plan their own investigations and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover answers and come to their own conclusions. Children are also encouraged to critically evaluate their enquiries and findings.
The children's understanding of science knowledge and skills is assessed using the Primary Science Teaching Trust TAPS (Teacher Assessment in Primary Science) and using Knowledge Organisers with missing information to assess what the children have remembered from their Science lessons on a particular topic. Science is also regularly assessed during our Memory Master sessions.
TAPS Assessment Grid
Lessons have a ‘working scientifically’
skills-based focus and knowledge is taught through this. We review our planning to ensure that there is a range of different types of scientific enquiry throughout the year in each year group and ensure there is appropriate progression in skills through the school.
We are continuing to raise the profile of science and build on science capital with regular science days, being involved in British Science Week, a Forensic Science Day, assemblies, displays and St Dennis Stars specifically for learning in science. Visits and visitors are an integral part of our science curriculum and we enjoyed visiting the Space Dome.
Visiting Space Dome
Forensic Science Day
Science underpins many topics and units are planned and presented through a ‘big question’ which encourages an enquiry-based approach. Children also have a ‘Stunning Start’ to inspire learning and units often involve a visit, or an expert to enhance learning as real life-experiences are a key driver of our curriculum. Community is also important to us at St Dennis Primary Academy, so families are invited to a ‘Fabulous Finish’ to celebrate and share in their children’s learning and successes. We also invite parents with specific science skills to come in to talk to the children about their expertise, such as a parent who was a local beekeeper.
Stunning Starts include a visit to the woods in Year 1 for their topic of ‘What would you use to build a house?’, a visit to the local recycling centre for Year 4 for ‘What makes St Dennis, St Dennis?’ and a visit from Mrs Brokenshire’s dog Nellie for the Year 2 topic ‘What do we need to survive?’
Fieldwork is a key element of our science curriculum and experiences include exploring the school’s field to find minibeasts, a visit to the Eden Project to explore South American habitats and exploring shadows in the playground. We are currently developing our school grounds to provide planters for each class to use.
We have a wide range of high-quality resources and science equipment in our ‘science cupboard’ which is organised clearly into topics for easy access. We use a range of online resources such as Explorify, The Primary Science Teaching Trust, Wow science and The Ogden Trust.
To support learning, children also have a knowledge organiser in their book and on display, with key learning points and maps, diagrams, facts and vocabulary. They also take one home so they can share their learning at home.
Further science is taught through some of our Dazzle Day topics including a topic on healthy living and a sustainability eco project.
Our science curriculum is ambitious for all pupils. The emphasis on practical activities and the use of a range of scientific enquiries means that all children can take an active part in science lessons and will learn more effectively with a ‘hands on’ approach.
We also consider ways of minimising and reducing barriers so that all pupils are included and achieve. The areas where we consider varying approaches and adaptations include: maintaining an inclusive learning environment, using multi-sensory approaches (including ICT), working with additional adults, ensuring appropriate scaffolding of tasks, managing peer relationships through particular groupings, using a wide range of recording methods, ensuring clear communication for all needs, and allowing for formative assessment by ensuring learning objectives and outcomes are understood by all children and assessment methods are wide ranging so not reliant on writing ability. At the same time, work and sentence level skills are practised and developed through science which impacts on children’s writing achievements.
Science, at St Dennis Primary Academy, is taught by teachers with good subject knowledge and an understanding of the need to incorporate and develop the use of scientific skills. We aim to deepen the children’s understanding of all concepts and knowledge using a range of enquiry skills to embed this knowledge fully. Therefore, there is a clear understanding of the progression of skills and where the children are, where they need to be and how they can be further extended and challenged.
Children are enthusiastic to find out more about the world around them and have a natural curiosity to find out even more. Children can talk about their learning in science and the skills they have used to gain this understanding. Regular monitoring and talking to children about their perception of science takes place.
Science is promoted and is evident throughout the school with science displays, regular visitors and awards for high quality science work.
We measure the impact of our curriculum through the following methods:
- Formative assessing of on-going learning and children’s understanding of scientific concepts and knowledge within each science topic. This takes place before and during a unit through mind maps, grids, quizzes and the use of complete and incomplete knowledge organisers.
- Assessing knowledge from previous year groups using ‘Memory Master’.
- Summative assessment through end of unit knowledge organiser completion tasks to assess critical knowledge and TAPS Focussed assessments to assess enquiry skills and understanding.
- Images and videos of the children’s practical learning.
- Interviewing the children about their learning (pupil voice) with their books.
- Whole class feedback and feedforward elements of lessons.
Science promotes British Values, and we strive to maintain this is in science lessons, where children elect leaders for an experiment or express an opinion about a theory or hypothesis. Oracy is promoted to enable children to articulate their thinking using scientific concepts. We remind children of the need to establish a firm set of rules when undertaking any scientific enquiries, particularly those that are of a practical nature, so as to ensure the safety of others. We introduce them to the fact that any new research by scientists has to follow strict laws and guidelines and can be refuted. Children are encouraged to critically evaluate their research or findings.
St Dennis Primary Academy has respect for democracy and the right of all children to have their voices heard. Children are encouraged to be mutually respectful of others when offering their viewpoints, ideas or suggestions for an investigation or a hypothesis. They are encouraged to weigh up both sides of an argument and provide a reasoned response that supports their own ideas.
We introduce the children to the many famous scientists and inventors, such as Darwin in Year 6, Archimedes in Year 5 and the recent discoveries of lithium in St Dennis. We consider how these people have been influential in the development of new technologies and research from all corners of the world and how all of these have contributed so positively to life in Modern Britain.
Teaching children to make sense of the world we live in is at the heart of our science curriculum. Children know that science does not always provide all of the answers but that there are continually new discoveries that help us to develop our sense of awe and wonder about the natural world. Children in Year 1 and Year 3 discover that all living things are interdependent and rely on other plants and animals for their survival.
Our children understand how living things rely on our contribution to protect our environment and in Year 4 they learn to recognise that environments can change and that this can sometimes pose dangers to living things. Although we celebrate new scientific discoveries and inventions, we know that these need to be used responsibly. Our children are encouraged to be open minded and critical, demanding evidence before accepting their findings.
Children at St Dennis are aware that science can have a major impact on the quality of our lives. We know of the importance of keeping each other safe during science lessons and the significance of medical advances to keep us all well. Scientists share ideas, data and results for further developing by others and children know that they need to share their results in order to improve the reliability of investigations. Year 2 explore their feelings during a spring nature walk.
At St Dennis Primary Academy we know that we should ask questions about the way in which scientific discoveries from around the world have affected our lives. Children learn about the contribution made by scientists from all over the world from a range of traditions and cultures. Year 6 learn about Ancient Egyptian discoveries and Archimedes is a focus in the work of Year 5 on forces. Science learning is enhanced by visits and visitors linked to the science industry.
How to help your child at home
Science is a way of understanding the world, a perspective, and a pattern of thinking that begins in the very early years. That is why parental involvement is so important in a child's science education. Science is all about exploring how things work. It’s often best learned through hands-on experiments and observation. This makes it a fun and easy subject area for children to dive into while at home. Here are some websites which suggest fun science experiments and activities: