How to tackle the new science curriculum

11th July 2014 at 01:00
In September, England's curriculum is changing for key stages 1, 2 and 3. This week, teachers reveal how they are approaching science

Primary

When the science curriculum was finalised, it threw up a number of questions about the changes that must occur at my school. In autumn 2013, I began to draft a plan to meet the requirements, and when it was finished I met with the science curriculum team for advice and refinement.

The new curriculum has only four programmes of study in key stage 1 and five in KS2. I decided to maintain six units of study because I felt that science should be taught throughout the school year.

To this end, I have added an "independent study" unit for KS2. Pupils will be encouraged to personalise their learning by completing a project on a scientific area of their choice.

In KS1, meanwhile, the topic "seasonal change" cannot be taught in a single term; it needs to be a thread running through a whole year of science teaching, so we are aiming to start this in the autumn term and return to it in winter, spring and summer.

The fact that the curriculum has become more based on biology puts other areas under threat. We did not want to lose our chemistry and physics content, so we found a way to build it into the new curriculum. In KS1, we have decided to focus on "forces through outdoor interactions". In Year 2, the outdoor play concentrates on "sounds and hearing".

Progression also had to be addressed. Children will study "animals including humans" in Years 1-6, but there was a concern that pupils could become bored and that there might be overlaps and repetition. To ensure progression, I have purchased varied resources that will be new to pupils each year and will help to develop their learning. We have also chosen to stagger the teaching of "animals including humans" so that the whole school is not studying the topic at the same time.

The "evolution and inheritance" topic led to raised eyebrows at our multi-faith school. After attending courses and researching this topic, my fears were alleviated when I realised that we could teach the unit through animal and plants, as opposed to focusing on human evolution. Inset time will need to be devoted to staff training because this is a new topic for them.

I am excited about these changes. And, as science coordinator, I feel confident that my colleagues will also embrace and rise to the challenges of the new primary science curriculum.

Kulvinder Kaur Johal is science coordinator and assistant headteacher at Northbury Primary School in Barking, Essex

Secondary

Another year, another batch of science curriculum changes. There is a slight sense of dj vu, but we must be clear about why we are overhauling the way we teach key stage 3 from September - it is not just down to reforms in the KS3 curriculum.

Of course, those reforms do demand that we modify what we teach, but our aim in KS3 is to prepare our students for KS4, and KS4 is also changing. We do not want a single student to be left behind, particularly those who are disadvantaged or are underperforming for their age. We also want each pupil to be stretched by consistently high expectations. So we need to tailor our KS3 curriculum to match the drafted new requirements for KS4 as well as the new KS3 programme of study. A tricky task.

Nevertheless, we get on with it, quietly chanting the mantra "KS4 ready, no one left behind".

Our plan includes:

Comments

The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now