Subject Philosophy: Science
At Queen’s Park, we teach science with passion and outstanding subject knowledge. We facilitate engaging, experiential, hands-on learning experiences for children, to capture their curiosity and to ensure that skills and knowledge are acquired and can be applied purposely and successfully.
We teach with:
We teach to:
Our science curriculum supports and supplements the delivery of the National Curriculum. Our curriculum provides:
Where possible, we coordinate science units to link to the over-arching ‘Big Question’ determined by our topic-based humanities curriculum, however we avoid forcing curriculum links which simply are not there.
The national curriculum for science is divided into 2 key strands: scientific knowledge and working scientifically, to be taught synchronously. Knowledge, skills and key vocabulary are outlined in our curriculum maps along with detail of prior knowledge acquired from the previous year(s). The curriculum maps provide a foundation, but the way information is delivered and the sequence of lessons is to be decided by the class teacher to tailor to the class’ interests and needs. Opportunities to develop working scientifically skills are linked to each topic, but we encourage teachers to consider opportunities beyond these suggestions, and where possible to apply these skills in other areas of the curriculum (e.g. careful observations and drawing of diagrams in art lessons).
We have identified vocabulary as a key area for development at Queen’s Park. Subject specific vocabulary is clearly outlined in our curriculum maps and teachers should discuss and teach this vocabulary during the unit of work. Many words are ‘tier 2’ words: words which have multiple uses, in different contexts. These words are relevant to the topic being studied but we also encourage teachers to explore their other meanings with the children too. Additionally, children should also be familiar with, and use, technical terminology accurately and precisely. They should build up an extended specialist vocabulary; ‘tier 3’ words of words appropriate to the unit they are studying.
Reading is at the heart of our curriculum and we have made strong links with science through our guided reading lessons in Key Stage 2. Reading a text relevant to the science topic in guided reading or whole class story time allows key knowledge to be learnt and also rehearsed. This in turn frees up time to focus on skills in science lesson time. This approach has been incredibly successful in Key Stage 2 so we are now developing our Key Stage 1 reading to introduce these ideas too.
Science in the Early Years
EYFS links to the science curriculum at Queen’s Park under the following Early Learning Goals:
Communication and Language
They answer ‘how’ and ‘why’ questions about their experiences and in response to stories or events.
Design, organise or care for objects in the environment e.g. water flowers, tidy away.
Know the importance for good health of physical exercise, and a healthy diet, and talk about ways to keep healthy and safe.
Record findings e.g. by drawing writing, making a model.
Recognise, create and describe patterns.
Understanding the World
Talk about immediate environment and how environments might vary from one another.
They make observations of animals and plants and explain why some things occur, and talk about changes.
At Queen’s Park, the majority of our timetable in the EYFS is devoted to free choice play time. This play is carefully supported and furthered by adults, allowing adequate space and time for children to take true and active control over their learning. This provides opportunities for children to foster curiosity in the world around them, to build enquiry-based skills as they enter KS1.
In EYFS, children begin to make active connections between their learning and lived experiences; real-world experiences give children the most meaningful learning opportunities and increase motivation and engagement. This approach builds a foundation of engaging, tangible experiences on which knowledge and skills development can be further developed throughout KS1 and KS2.
As with Key Stage 1 and 2, linking reading is incredibly important and high-quality texts have been identified and purchased to support teaching in the EYFS. Children are also taken on local trips and visits to enhance their learning in this area.
Principles of Science Teaching
Vocabulary – our curriculum maps outline key vocabulary which should appear in teaching during a specific unit. These words will be constantly revisited and applied throughout the topic. Initially, teachers choose 6 of these key terms to assess in a pre-unit vocabulary check. This vocabulary check is repeated at the end of the unit to show progress and understanding.
Hands-On Investigation/Experimentation – our curriculum provides opportunity for teachers to incorporate concrete experiences, and child-led investigation to support an enquiry-based approach. Children should challenge their own expectations and take ownership over their learning wherever possible.
Explanation – our well-connected, clear curriculum means subject knowledge for teachers is secure and knowledge is clearly shared with pupils in engaging ways. Pupils are encouraged to remember what they learnt previously and consider how this links to what they are learning now, and also to consider how new knowledge challenges prior assumptions. Older children should begin to consider shortcomings of investigations and further questions that need to be addressed.
Challenge – we have high expectations for all students. We scaffold and differentiate when needed but we also do not limit, encouraging all children to develop critical, higher level thinking skills at their own pace.
Questioning – we will use questioning and quizzing techniques to assess the understanding of and retention of key knowledge. We will also extend children through higher level questioning. This will often be done ‘in situ’ when children are carrying out investigations.
Feedback – we will provide both verbal and written feedback to our children (as per the marking policy) and ensure that this happens ‘live’ during lessons as much as possible. This will enable misconceptions to be addressed immediately, and provide opportunity to challenge and stretch pupils.
Layered Provision - we will provide a range of activities linked to a science topic through a layered provision approach. Layered provision has been used successfully in EYFS however children can often lose resilience and independence as they move to formal classroom teaching in Key Stage One and beyond. We continue this approach throughout the rest of the school to allow children to take charge of their own learning and interests. Children in Key Stage 1 and 2 should be given dedicated time for access to layered provision. It can also be used when a teacher wishes to work with smaller groups. Whilst it can be used occasionally when children have finished all of their directed tasks, this should not be the sole use of layered provision as some children may never get the chance to access it if this is the case.
Parents and Guardians
We aim to engage parents in our science curriculum in a number of ways. We strongly believe that home support can contribute to high standards of attainment and progress. We engage parents in the following ways:
Wider Community and Cultural Capital
Children at Queen’s Park regularly attend educational visits across London. Where possible, we encourage teachers to take their class on one educational visit per half term. Whilst this does not always have to be science related, London has a lot to offer for this curriculum area. We have established partnerships with Westminster Academy, where pupils can access specialist teaching and the opportunity to use advanced scientific equipment within a laboratory setting to enrich their learning. Teachers are also encouraged to make annual visits to the local ‘Floating Classroom’ and other science-focused venues.
Topics and learning journeys are planned to give our children an understanding of their local community and the wider world whilst also developing their cultural capital. Teachers plan units of work which raise awareness of local and global issues and children are encouraged to write and create for real purposes. Some examples of this so far are: