Subject co-ordinator: Mrs Gray
At St Polycarp’s we want all children to develop a love of learning, independence and the ability to collaborate and support others. We want our children to be excited about their learning while at St Polycarp’s and for their future lives. We provide opportunities for them to develop inner confidence and resilience to face new challenges and overcome difficulties.
Science is all around us – it is a way of learning about the natural world using observation and logical reasoning. At St Polycarp’s school we recognise the importance of fostering children’s curiosity and interest in the world. We encourage children to be inquisitive throughout their time at school and beyond. Science provides children with the opportunity to understand the world around them and provides an exciting context to apply many of the other skills and disciplines they learn at school. The National Curriculum for Science identifies three key areas in which the children should be taught:
- knowledge and understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
- working scientifically
- the application of science
Our school has a carefully planned science curriculum that ensures children, from early years to year 6, cover these three aims in an accessible, creative and engaging way. We believe that children learn science best by doing and seeing; by providing the children with a range of opportunities to actively carry out different types of scientific enquiries, we ensure that working scientifically and application of knowledge is embedded into the heart of our science curriculum. Our school endeavours to ensure that every child is given the opportunity to enjoy and make progress in science. In addition, the wider curriculum provides many opportunities to apply and deepen children’s understanding of science. As a school, we also embrace any opportunities that raise the awareness of environmental issues (like air pollution or plastic waste) as we firmly believe it is our responsibility to raise the citizens of the future. At St Polycarp’s school we have our own Eco Council who look to raise the profile of such environmental issues and support the school in moving forward with this.
As a school, our links with the local community continue to be of importance to us. We are proud to invite members of the Science community into our school to share their knowledge and broaden the children’s understanding in a variety of contexts. We are also proud to participate in a yearly Science fair within our school, whereby children use their science knowledge to develop and showcase their own Science experiments to live audiences. Finalists of the fair then have the opportunity to showcase their experiments at regional finals at a nearby university.
Science is taught at St Polycarp’s through weekly, discreet lessons (usually as a double lesson spanning the whole afternoon), but where possible, links are made to other subjects (for example links to PSHE and PE, where children are taught about the importance of healthy living.) The science curriculum follows the year-by-year progression of knowledge and skills as set out in the National Curriculum. Throughout the programmes of study, the children acquire and develop the key knowledge that has been identified within each unit and mapped out across each year group, as well as the application of scientific skills. Most topics are revisited and developed throughout their time at school. This model allows children to build upon their prior knowledge.
Existing knowledge is checked at the beginning of each topic, as part of the KWL strategy (What I know, What I would like to Know and What I have Learned). This ensures that teaching is informed by the children’s starting points and that it takes account of pupil voice, incorporating children’s interests. We ensure that the Working Scientifically skills are built-on and developed throughout children’s time at the school so that they can apply their knowledge of science when using equipment, conducting experiments, building arguments and explaining concepts confidently as well as continuing to ask questions and be curious about their surroundings. Working Scientifically skills are embedded into lessons and new vocabulary and challenging concepts are introduced through direct teaching. Teachers demonstrate how to use scientific equipment, and the various Working Scientifically skills to embed scientific understanding. Through our planning, we involve problem solving opportunities that allow children to apply their knowledge and find out answers for themselves. Children are encouraged to ask their own questions and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover the answers. Planning involves teachers creating engaging lessons, involving high-quality resources to aid understanding of conceptual knowledge. Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual knowledge and skills and assess pupils regularly to identify those children with gaps in learning, so that all pupils keep up. Tasks are selected and designed to provide appropriate challenge to all learners, in line with the school’s commitment to inclusion, as well as opportunities to work independently and collaboratively. Teachers use varied teaching approaches, maximising learning opportunities as they arise, adapting and responding to the experiences of the children. Teachers are encouraged to find opportunities for outdoor learning. At the end of each topic, key knowledge is reviewed by the children and checked and assessed by the teacher and consolidated as necessary. Children are offered a wide range of extra-curricular activities, visits, trips and visitors to complement and broaden the curriculum. These are purposeful and link with the knowledge being taught in class.
We want children to enjoy and value science and appreciate the range of skills it will provide them with. An essential part of children becoming scientists is promoting curiosity and encouraging them to ask questions. By the end of KS2, our expectation is that children will be able to develop their own questions, plan different types of enquiries to answer those questions and communicate their findings in a variety of ways. Children will understand that part of science is failing and that problem solving helps us to overcome these failures. Children will have a clear understanding of how scientists both past and present have contributed to society's understanding of the world around them. They will understand the role that science and other STEM subjects play in solving some of the key problems facing the world, such as climate change. Pupils are provided with a range of opportunities to showcase and communicate their ideas, research and findings. We ensure that when assessing our pupils, evidence is drawn from a wide range of sources to inform the process including interaction with pupils during discussions and related questioning, day to day observations, practical activities such as practical enquiries, the gathering, presentation and communication of fieldwork data and writing in different genres. The outcomes of each enquiry serve to inform the teacher’s developing picture of the knowledge and understanding of each pupil and to plan future learning accordingly. Teachers also use end of unit assessments (TAPS) as assessment tools, as well as continually assessing throughout the unit. Assessment at end of each unit is recorded within the assessment grids within books by both the children and the teacher, which enables us to see the progress of all the children within the school. This is then transferred to mark books. Regular scrutiny of books by the subject leader and SLT takes place to check for progress, alongside CPD driven by the subject leader’s findings.
At the end of each year, we make a summative judgement about the achievement of each pupil against the subject learning goals for science in that year. At this point we decide upon a ‘best fit’ judgement as to whether the pupil has achieved and embedded the expected learning goals, exceeded expectations or is still working towards the goals. Pupil voice is measured and demonstrates that pupils enjoy science, they are engaged and enthusiastic. They particularly enjoy experimenting, science trips and further opportunities to practise observation skills.
Science Learning Journey