Middlewich Rd, Rudheath, Northwich CW9 7DT

Science

A key priority of our science department is to provide a high-quality knowledge-rich curriculum for all pupils. All decisions made for our curriculum design and implementation are underpinned by current educational research. 
As a core subject we recognise this is an important entitlement for all our pupils and endeavour to ensure we have high aspirations for every child, particularly the most disadvantaged and those with special educational needs (SEND). This is reflected in our open offer to all pupils to study triple science towards the end of Year 9. We are emphatic about pupils not being restricted in their choices regardless of attainment or need. 
 
Our curriculum is carefully sequenced over KS3 and KS4 to develop the knowledge needed to prepare learners for GCSE, A-level and beyond. Pupils are consistently provided with opportunities to revisit key concepts to ensure deep and meaningful learning takes place throughout their science journey. 

‘Memory is the residue of thought’
– Daniel T. Willingham 

We are passionate about providing opportunities for enrichment and STEM, to equip learners with the knowledge and cultural capital to become educated citizens. This is evident throughout our curriculum, in the offers we make to pupils and the experiences we provide.   

Underpinning all we do is our academy ethos of excellence and kindness:  to be our very best version of ourselves. 

What are the minimum expectations of the National Curriculum/Exam specifications? 

The aims of the national curriculum for science states all pupils: 

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific 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 

The KS3 National curriculum states that the principal focus of science teaching is to develop a deeper understanding of a range of scientific ideas in the subject disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Pupils should begin to see the connections between these subject areas and become aware of some of the big ideas underpinning scientific knowledge and understanding. 

Pupils should understand about ‘working scientifically’ and within this be taught about scientific attitudes, experimental skills and investigations, analysis and evaluation and measurement. 

Teaching in KS4 continues ‘with the process of building upon and deepening scientific knowledge and the understanding of ideas developed in earlier key stages’. Whether pupils are continuing on to study science at a more advanced level or not, it is expected that pupils are taught the ‘knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science’ to develop their enthusiasm and curiosity about science and how it is relevant to their everyday lives.  

How do we make our curriculum aspirational? 

We have audited our curriculum against the National Curriculum to ensure we are covering this throughout each pupils science journey. However, as a department, we see these national curriculum requirements as the absolute basics. Going beyond this we endeavour to ensure that the curriculum we deliver is aspirational for all our pupils.  

This includes a science capital- informed approach to our curriculum to ensure all pupils recognise the importance of science and how invaluable it is in opening doors across many sectors. ‘Recent research suggests that higher rates of science capital correlate with a stronger likelihood of learners pursuing continuing education, training and employment in STEM subjects’. We understand that science can help broaden our young people’s life choices and opportunities for the future and we are passionate about sharing this through as many different science-related meaningful experiences as possible.  

As a department we are working on relating science content within our curriculum to our learner’s lives and local communities. We understand that this will improve engagement and allow our pupils to recognise the relevance of our science curriculum to their everyday lives. A part of this is to ensure we continually share the importance of science to a variety of different fields from those well-known academic pathways such as medical work to less well known connections such as fashion and beauty. We want all our pupils to be passionate about science because they value it as a subject and understand that it will open doors to any future career.  

Since offering triple science as an option at GCSE we have been fervid in our desire to see all pupils given this opportunity and therefore no pupils are prevented from choosing this as an option for future study. To support this, sufficient time is allocated to teach triple science and our teachers ensure learning is scaffolded to ensure those lower attaining pupils are successful in this course. This is particularly important in the context of our school, where higher levels of pupil premium pupils can mean there are larger gaps in their science education therefore reducing the likelihood that they take science at A level and beyond. We are dedicated to closing these gaps through a variety of methods in the sequencing of the curriculum and teaching approaches used within our classroom.   

In the demands of the lesson we make it aspirational without been exclusive in terms of the level of success it aims to achieve, so we try to build a long term schema of knowledge instead of just a well-practiced retrieval of facts. We know many of our pupils can lack confidence in achieving academically in their subjects. Our goal is to ensure that our lessons are challenging but scaffolded in a way that ensure pupils are successful to build their confidence in our subject. Building their confidence and enabling them feel ‘good’ at science is crucial for their continued interest and focus in our subject. Research also shows that this can be a key factor towards a lack of pupils choosing to take science further i.e. girls reluctance to study physics at Alevel (R Cassidy, S Cattan, C Crawford and S Dytham, ‘How can we increase girls’ uptake of maths and physics A-level?’, Institute of Fiscal Studies, August 2018). 

We aim to change this. 

Implementation 

At key stage 3 Science is taught over 6 hours per cycle. For key stage 4 this is increased to 8 hours with another 5 hours per cycle (13 hours) given to those pupils choosing to study triple science at GCSE.  

This allocation of time allows us to carefully sequence our curriculum throughout Year 7-11 to embed knowledge and ensure our pupils build a deeper, more developed schema. In addition to the progressive sequencing of knowledge we ensure that there is consistent retrieval practice throughout. This enables gaps in knowledge and misconceptions to be addressed to ensure coherence and allows the building blocks of key concepts to become embedded in the learning of science for our pupils.  

Our curriculum

Cognitive science  

Our long term and medium term plans are built around the current research about the importance of cognitive science in teaching and learning. We look to the bigger picture of where this new knowledge links to prior learning and key concepts. This is to ensure deep and meaningful learning is consistently taking place within lessons (learning defined as ‘an alteration in long term memory’- new Ofsted handbook 2019). We ensure that learning is deep and meaningful, without overloading the working memory.  

To support deeper learning within our curriculum, staff employ the use of metacognitive strategies. These are explicitly taught in conjunction with subject specific content to ensure students can successfully apply these to their own learning.   

Students become increasingly independent from Years 7 – 11, building confidence in practical and data handling skills and greater depth of understanding in each topic. 

This involves a series of steps within each lesson that begins with activating prior knowledge and leading to independent practice before ending in structured reflection. These are based on Barak Rosenshine’s Principles of instruction. 

  • Teacher starts each lesson with a knowledge drill (review of relevant prior knowledge to activate schemata ready to build new knowledge into long term learning)  
  • Learning question  
  • Small amounts of new knowledge are presented at a time with the opportunity for students to then practice this new material  
  • Regular, extensive questioning of all students  
  • Model answers and worked examples are regularly provided where appropriate  
  • Give students opportunities for extensive, successful, independent practice   
  • Use formative/summative assessment and feedback-next steps to secure students’ progress  
  • Reflection of learning question.  
  • Follow Behaviour for Learning protocols  
  • Use of knowledge organisers  

This includes a focus on the language used in science lessons. Students are supported in their learning to ensure they are using not only the correct language but also connectives and command words necessary for a deeper understanding of literacy in science. We have a focus on deliberately building vocabulary in or lessons and use systematic approaches to teach the most important tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary in science. For some this means studying the etymology of these words and through greater detail looking at examples and non-examples of such.  

Assessment  

Our science curriculum has been designed to ensure there are consistent opportunities for low stakes testing throughout. This is through the use of knowledge drills every lesson that focus on prior knowledge relevant to the lesson and the use of plickers at specific stages of learning. 

Our assessment plan offers plenty of opportunity for retrieval practice and assessment of long term learning. It is also designed to support students in being able to successfully approach assessments using more teacher led methods at KS3 to developing more independent practice later on. We also use assessments to improve the quality of written work in science using extended questions throughout years 7 – 11. 

Year 7  
Pupils complete five end of topic assessments (each half term), which focus on knowledge recall and application. These test papers are more teacher led to support pupils in accessing KS3 exam style questions. Pupils then mark these with support from teacher and complete relevant follow up questions which focus on their areas of weakness. 

Each test will contain synoptic questions about previous content so will gradually increase in length, with the final end of year test assessing their learning over the previous year. 
Year 7 pupils will also complete an extended question for each topic, which is then assessed for knowledge and literacy. 

Year 8 
Pupils will again complete five end of topic assessments (each half term), which focus on knowledge recall and application. These test papers are completed more independently by pupils. Pupils then mark these using the mark scheme and again complete relevant follow up questions which focus on their areas of weakness. 
Each test will contain synoptic questions about previous content so will gradually increase in length, with the final end of year test assessing their learning over the previous year. 

Year 8 pupils will also complete an extended question for each topic, which is then assessed for knowledge and literacy. 

Year 9  
Assessments take place at the end of every topic and with pupils working independently on these although teacher support may be given if needed especially at the start of introducing content for GCSE. Extended questions now take the form of GCSE exam style questions (6 mark questions), which are marked for literacy and scientific knowledge. These are modelled and scaffolded by the teacher to support pupils in how to best answer these style of questions. 

Year 10  
Pupils complete a GCSE style test every topic. Higher and foundation papers are used at this point. 6 mark GCSE exam questions also continue to be used every topic.  
Pupils complete formal mock exams at the end of the year to access Paper 1 biology, physics and chemistry content. 

Year 11 
Pupils continue to complete a GCSE style test every topic, with higher and foundation papers used. 6 mark GCSE exam questions are also used every topic to access literacy and scientific knowledge.  
Pupils complete full GCSE examination papers throughout the year with formal mock exams in November and March to help them prepare for their GCSE’s.  

Meeting learners needs and SEND provision  

All the approaches to teaching and learning described above are designed to support all learners in science. Fundamentally all our lesson are planned with the intention to teach to the top and scaffolding is used to support students in achieving mastery of each concept. All staff use intentionally designed seating plans to ensure they are aware of and can support all the needs of learners in their classroom. Individual Education Plans are used in every lesson to further support those pupils that require additional, individualised support to enable them to achieve their full potential.  

Staff development 

All Science staff are expected and do make a positive contribution to departmental developments. We are well read about current pedagogies and practices that support excellence in teaching and learning and support one another in the development of these within our own lessons. Staff development is supported through our work with external partners such as the Institute of Physics, STEM Learning Network, Technician networks and leadership programmes. This is supplemented by whole school CPD and coaching programmes.  

All teachers have high expectations of all our pupils, in terms of their standards and behaviour and in respect to their own progress within science. The structure of our curriculum ensures this, in the development of a learning journey that makes consistent links to key concepts and prior learning.  

The impact of this is measured through the data produced at each key assessment point and through external assessments at KS4. Question level analysis is carried out to ensure assessment data is utilised in a meaningful way, to address misconceptions and target intervention for individual pupils. 

We as a department are passionate about improving the science capital of our young people so they are equipped with the knowledge and skills for the next stage of their journey.  

We are currently developing an enrichment programme in science that not only continues our work with STEM ambassadors but also provides a variety of experiences such as working on our own allotments and caring for animals in our mini zoo.  

We are also hoping to offer a science crest award and a meaningful science related trip for each year group. Within school we will develop the pupil’s experiences further with STEM related experience days with leaders in their field coming to share their jobs and experiences with our pupils and external visitors such as Zoolab coming to add extra excitement and experience to our subject. 

To monitor whether our intent is being achieved we will periodically include student voice through discussion with a range of selected pupils to ensure that their feedback and any concerns are taken into account when developing our curriculum and programme of science related experiences. 

We will also regularly review our curriculum as a department and myself and my Deputy will ensure we consistently monitor student attitude, work and outcomes, with triangulation of data, leaning walks and book scrutiny to drive the improvement and development of our science department.