Raising standards at KS3

5th May 2000 at 01:00
A NATIONAL science strategy, currently being drafted, is to be piloted in 200 schools from September. The move ties in with the Government's drive to improve literacy and numeracy for 11 to 14-year-olds, and follows concerns raised by the Office for Standards in Education report, 'Progress in Key Stage 3 Science', which found that pupils at this level are not making enough progress and that secondary teachers fail to build on primary science.

Meanwhile, the QCA has produced a scheme of work for KS3 that will help teachers implement the revised science curriculum from September. The scheme is an optional resource that clarifies the scope of the programme of study and expectations of the revised curriculum and exemplifies the changes, particularly the new attainment target of scientific enquiry. It will assist long and medium-term planning and help to disseminate good practice. The schemes also encourage the use of ICT in science teaching and the development of thinking skills.

The 37 units give flexible coverage of key topics and can be combined into 19 double units. There is flexibility in the order in which the units can be taught. The teachers' guide also gives practical guidance on curriculum issues.

Each unit contains an introduction with key information; sections, introduced by a key question, consisting of a range of uggested activities rather than lesson plans; learning outcomes for the activities, linked to learning objectives; and notes on safety, pupils' ideas and misconceptions about science, and extension activities, including links to other curriculum areas. The scheme builds on work done at KS2 and is cross-referenced to the primary programme of study. Scientific enquiry activities are included in every unit. The scheme sets out progressive expectations related to the level descriptions for each unit and language for learning objectives related to the national literacy strategy. There are suggestions on assessment, suitable classroom resources and out-of-school learning.

Experienced science teachers have been involved at every stage and more than 100 schools were consulted. Teachers know best what works well in science teaching and by drawing on the expertise of so many individuals we believe we have produced an invaluable resource that all teachers can benefit from.

The scheme is available on the Department for Education and Employment's website at www.standards.dfee.go.uk, or from a direct link from the QCA website. Secondary schools will receive a copy at the end of this month.

Martin Hollins is principal subject officer, science, for QCA, 29 Bolton Street, London W1Y 7PD. Tel: 020 7509 555. Website: www.qca.org.uk


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