The new curriculum sets out for the first time to define the aims and purposes of each subject. The place of science is clear: it stimulates and excites curiosity about the world. It also satisfies that curiosity with knowledge. Although, as science writer Colin Tudge points out in the preamble to the new curriculum, "Science does not tell us everything that we want to know about life, or all we need to know," it does "provide us with the most robust information about the way the universe works ..."
The new requirements for national curriculum science reflect these aims. Changes have been kept to a minimum - a priority has been to maintain stability. New enquiry requirements encourage teaching through a wide range of investigative approaches - for example, the use of secondary information resources and contemporary practice. Minor shifts of content between key stages 2 and 3 and between KS3 and KS4 should encourage teachers to consolidate learning at a particular key stage, build on previous key stages and reduce overlap. A few changes have been made to the scheme of work for KS1 and KS2 to reflect the revised curriculum. A supplement to the teacher's guide summarises the changes to both the curriculum and the scheme of work. It cross-references the programmes of study to the units and sections on PSHE, citizenship, ICT. Three units at KS2 have been modified to omit the elements removed from the programme of study. An additional unit on scientific enquiry exemplifies some of the less common approaches, such as using environmental and technological contexts. The revised units and teacher's guide will be published in a few weeks.
An exemplar KS3 scheme of work will be published in the spring. It will consist of 37 units and a guide for teachers, similar in format to the primary scheme of work, building on KS2 work to ensure progression and continuity. The changes to the curriculum will be clearly indicated and advice on how schools can adapt their existing schemes of work will also be included.
At KS4 most pupils should continue to follow a double science course at GCSE. A wider range of options will be available for those pupils for whom this is inappropriate - single science GCSE, entry level science, disapplication.
Science will remain a cornerstone of the curriculum because it links practical experience with ideas and engages learners on many levels. There is a commitment to make sure that the science national curriculum reflects the changing world of the 21st century.
Martin Hollins is principal subject officer for science at the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority