In September, England's curriculum is changing for key stages 1, 2 and 3. This week, teachers reveal how they are approaching science
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
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:
auditing the current KS3 schemes of work, adding the parts of the national curriculum that are new and ditching lessons we no longer need to teach;
defining for each topic, and then each lesson, precisely what we want every student to learn, how we will know that they have learned it (assessment) and what we will do to intervene so that they keep up and do not get left behind;
adding activities that enable us to check and ensure that the learning is retained, so that students are equipped for KS4 with conceptual understanding, knowledge and science processing skills;
traffic-lighting underlying concepts. By identifying the key concepts that underpin scientific understanding, we can strategically funnel emphasis and resources into the optimum areas for intervention, while paying less attention to peripheral understanding and areas that are not going to be examined at KS4;
building on cross-links with other subjects, particularly maths;
identifying the understanding that is essential for KS4 but is not in the KS3 curriculum, and making sure it is explicitly taught;
evaluating and possibly purchasing new resources to support teaching, learning and assessment, making sure we get the best value for our students and teachers;
utilising the skills and experience of teachers in the department, as it will take a good team with a shared vision to put all this in place.
Our goal is to create a KS3 science programme that retains the engaging enquiry-led approach developed over the past few years, while customising it to tackle specific scientific concepts in rigorous detail. We want our learners to enjoy their lessons, while their knowledge and understanding spiral upwards, leading to success at GCSE.
Alison Sainsbury is curriculum leader of science at Henry Cort Community College, Fareham, Hampshire
A look inside the new science curriculum
Key stage 1 and key stage 2
a greater emphasis on working scientifically, which is defined as what children do to answer scientific questions about the world around them;
the addition of a range of science enquiry types, including observation over time, pattern seeking, classifying and grouping, and researching using other sources, as well as comparative and fair testing;
working scientifically now underpins all subject content, with clear progression between key stages. It is no longer to be taught as a separate strand;
an increased focus on outdoor learning across the curriculum;
earlier requirements to identify and name a variety of common animals and a greater emphasis on plants, including trees;
a strengthening of plant and animal biology throughout, with children required to identify and classify a wide range of living things;
the introduction of seasonal change to the curriculum in Year 1;
an end to the requirement to cover physics at KS1, as electricity, forces, and light and sound are not statutory - these areas are moved and expanded on at KS2;
the introduction of fossils to the Year 3 curriculum;
the introduction of the human digestive system to the Year 4 curriculum;
the introduction of levers and mechanisms to the Year 5 curriculum;
the introduction of evolution and inheritance to the Year 6 curriculum.
Key stage 3
New content includes:
skeletal and muscular systems;
properties of ceramics, polymers and composites;
efficacy of recycling;
use of ultrasound.
Content moved down from KS4 includes:
gas exchange in plants;
cellular respiration (aerobic and anaerobic);
movement of substances (by diffusion) in and between cells;
resistance as the ratio of potential difference to current;
use of the ray model to explain imaging in mirrors, the pinhole camera, light refraction, how convex lenses focus and the human eye.
Raised expectations in terms of:
chemical literacy, such as representing chemical reactions using formulae and equations;
maths, such as using simple equations, carrying out calculations and data analysis using statistical techniques;
literacy, such as increased expectation in the use of scientific language and vocabulary.
Scientific working should underpin all subject content and not be taught separately. Schools will need to plan for progression as students move up through KS3. They will also need to plan to include opportunities for students to undertake the "most appropriate" type of science enquiry, including fieldwork techniques and sampling.
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