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At the South Hams Federation, we aim to provide children with a body of scientific knowledge as well as knowledge of how the scientific method is used to develop and test facts and theories via scientific enquiry (substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge).

We emphasise the importance of science in every aspect of daily life and our teaching is centred around increasing pupils’ knowledge of our world.  In science, knowledge and process are interlinked so children use existing and taught knowledge as well as evidence from their own enquiry to support and embed their learning within a context. 

Which curriculum will we use?

The National Curriculum provides the structure and knowledge for the Science curriculum being taught throughout the school.  In Early Years, science is encountered in a range of learning areas. At this stage, they develop the vocabulary they need to be able to talk about Science and gain experience in doing so.  The curiosity and experiences created through this prepares them well to begin KS1.

Which knowledge and skills will we teach?

Our Science teaching offers opportunities for children to:

  • develop substantive knowledge and conceptual understanding through the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry; Physics and of Earth sciences
  • learn how a range of scientific skills are used by scientist to generate further knowledge, within the three main themes of planning, doing and reviewing;
  • develop a knowledge of different types of scientific enquiry (identification and pattern seeking; observing over time; fair testing; research and exploration)
  • become equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of Science, today and for the future;
  • read about Science, including current cutting-edge research;
  • communicate their scientific information and present it in a systematic, scientific manner;
  • develop a respect for and an understanding of the materials and equipment they handle and of their limitations
  • develop their ability to make links with previous learning and a framework within which to embed future learning.
  • learn about the science of our own rural location, particularly our relationship with the sea and the wildlife surrounding our village.

We endeavour to adapt the Science curriculum to make it accessible to all of our pupils, irrespective of ability or background.  We recognise that many of our children do not come from scientific backgrounds, and many will have low Science Capital on entry. Through this approach, we ensure that every chance is taken to “broaden what counts” in order to build on their Science Capital and embedding the belief that science knowledge and processes are relevant to them, their families and our community

How will we ensure that children understand the “Bigger Picture” of science?

We will provide children with the framework they need to see where scientific ideas are related and based on shared concepts.  We recognise how important it is that our children develop a bank of knowledge that improves and grows as they move through our school.  They need a body of knowledge related to existing scientific understanding but also a body of knowledge related to the scientific discipline.  The combination of these two will allow them not only to understand how existing knowledge was obtained but also to understand how future questions can be approached.  


How is science planned?

Science is taught as a discrete subject and is based on the National Curriculum.  This means that, in most year groups, six topics are taught over the course of the year, with children spending one half-term on each topic.  The scheme of work is devised by the federation science lead using selected resources from a range of sources: Hamilton Trust; the Primary Science Teaching Trust; PLAN; the Teacher Assessment in Primary Science (TAPS) project and explorify.

The MTPs  include knowledge to be taught, vocabulary, scientific skills, expected prior knowledge, future links and common misconceptions. 

How is progression ensured?

The provision of MTPs and lesson outlines ensures the progression of substantive and disciplinary knowledge and allows us to ensure the development of scientific skills as children move through the school.  It also ensures not only that all substantive knowledge is covered but also that the whole range of enquiry knowledge and skills are covered, rather than one particular skill dominating.

Knowledge is embedded through weekly retrieval practice, low stakes questions and quizzes (“Sticky questions”) but is assessed in a short-written test at the end of the unit.  The use of “Sticky questions” at the start of each lesson ensures that learning is revisited, contextualised and embedded to help provide the framework for the new knowledge each year offers. 

The knowledge of the scientific discipline is broken down into key aims for each Key Stage as shown below.  These aims are always addressed within the context of the topic for that half term and teachers are provided with guidelines on how to recognise whether children have obtained that knowledge.  This ensures that children learn how the scientific method is used and how it varies depending on the context.

How is science taught?

In years 1-6, children have weekly Science lessons delivered by their class teacher.  In Early Years, science is encountered in a range of learning areas: Communication and language; Physical development and Understanding the World (all from the three- and four-year-old section) and Communication and language (for reception age children).   In EYFS, there is a focus on talking about and doing science in order to develop a bank of vocabulary that allows the children to share and question their science knowledge, preparing them for KS1.  Expected prior knowledge in year 1 refers back to the EYFS framework targets.

Each half-term, one topic is taught.   In KS1 and KS2, each new topic begins with a lesson designed to spark interest; to remind the children of what they have learnt already related to that topic and to assess their prior knowledge about the topic.  An initial task is given with questions specifically related to prior knowledge required for that topic.  Where children find it hard to record their understanding, the class teacher works with individuals to assess their understanding. Teachers use their AfL from the initial task to adapt the upcoming teaching and to adapt Sticky Questions in order to address misconceptions.

The lessons within each topic are designed to deliver the key substantive knowledge from the NC whilst providing the opportunity to gain an understanding of how the disciplinary skills support that knowledge.   

The purpose of each lesson is given as a combination of “focus” and a “skill” to ensure that children understand the importance of the relationship between knowledge and the process used to gain it, question it and further it.   The focus is substantive and related to the key knowledge for that lesson.  The skill refers to the disciplinary knowledge that the lesson relates to.  This ensures that subject knowledge is delivered through contextually relevant activities.   

Only one disciplinary skill is focussed on in any lesson to prevent the cognitive overload and confusion that can result from open-ended investigations.  The work that the children produce in their books should reflect the focus and skill of that lesson, rather than being complete experimental write-ups.


How is the learning assessed?

We use four main approaches to our assessment:

1. “Sticky Questions” are used to embed knowledge and develop links between it. They offer  assessment as learning and assessment for learning.  Five questions are used to begin each lesson and could come from the current or from any prior topic.  They are adapted to reflected any misconceptions arising in the initial task.

2. The initial task is planned by the federation lead and allows teachers to assess prior knowledge of each topic.

3. Precise questioning in class to test conceptual knowledge and skills to identify those children with gaps in learning, so that all children keep up - provides assessment as learning and assessment for learning;

4. Half-termly assessment for learning has two strands:

1. A specific scientific skill is assessed each half-term within the context of an applied lesson.  A different skill is assessed each half-term so that each of the six areas are assessed once each over the year.

2. An End of Unit written task is provided by the federation lead and is designed to assess the substantive knowledge taught that half term.  The way in which children record their understanding varies to allow for differences in learning style and some children may respond verbally to a scribe.

Teacher’s record attainment on an End of unit sheet that is shared with the school subject lead and is passed on to the classes next teacher.  This shows whether children are working below, at or above the ARE.  Teacher’s also record extra notes that may be specific to a given pupil or a common misconception.  Future teachers will use this information, as well as the initial tasks they carry out themselves, to decide how best to support students in the next related topic.

How is the teaching monitored?

The subject leader monitors the weekly planning to ensure that it matches the MTP; that the knowledge content is covered and that the children are being given the opportunities to develop disciplinary knowledge as well as substantive knowledge. 

How is the overall impact measured?

The teachers termly assessment data is recorded on Sonar Tracker to help the subject leader identify children who are exceeding age related expectations; those who are still working towards them and those whose progress has changed.

The subject leader carries out lesson observations to identify areas where teachers need more support.  This also allows the subject leader to identify children working at greater depth and those needing more support. If needed these are followed up by joint work between subject leader and the teacher to plan the next topic.

The subject leader is supported by the Head of School.  Joint observations allow the subject leader to learn how to monitor and feedback effectively.

As well as providing up to date information and ideas about learning in science and managing the school science resources, the subject leader also models teaching with each teacher’s own class, particularly where new initiatives are introduced. 

Pupil voice is used to further develop the Science curriculum, through questioning of pupils’ scientific knowledge as well as their views and attitudes to science to support the children’s enjoyment of science and to motivate learners.   We believe that children at The South Hams Federation receive a high-quality science education, that provides them with the foundations for understanding the world and a framework for the science they need to know in Key Stage 3.