The overall aims of the science curriculum are:
- To develop scientific knowledge and understanding of biological systems and chemical and physical interactions
- To make and record real world observations and use these to make scientific predictions
- To understand the scientific method and use it to investigate with objectivity, precision, accuracy, and reliability
- To use knowledge of scientific methods to answer questions about the world and 21st century problems such as climate change
- To understand the implications of science for the future
Key Stage 3
The Key Stage 3 curriculum is designed to engage students in science and provide a solid foundation across all three disciplines of science. It is practical-focused and provides many opportunities for students to design and carry out a range of experiments to supplement and enhance their theoretical knowledge. It provides a firm foundation of key concepts and approaches them in a logical order. So for example, students in Year 7 will learn about the particle model first before attempting to sequence higher order concepts such as how acids and alkalis interact. They can then apply this knowledge to learning about other types of chemical reaction once they have the key knowledge and vocabulary to describe and explain these ideas. Each topic also carries a skills focus, so there are clear opportunities within the scheme of work for students to acquire a range of scientific skills in line with overall faculty aims. For example some topics will focus on opportunities to develop data analysis skills, or to develop a better awareness about hazards and how to control risk in the laboratory.
Summary of Content
|Year 7||Students start with the fundamentals in each discipline (cells, particles and forces). These can then be built upon in Terms 2 and 3, looking at more specialised cells in reproduction and moving on to interactions between organisms in ecosystems; movement of electrons in electricity and the influence of gravity in terms of interaction of bodies in the Solar System; and particles interacting in acids and alkalis and other forms of chemical reaction.|
|Year 8||Food and digestion gives students a good grasp of balanced diets, health and how their body works, which sets them up to move on to respiration – with links being drawn between the two in terms of energy. Their understanding of the movement of gases, also supports their understanding of photosynthesis in Term 3. Separating mixtures allows students to recap some ideas about particles. The periodic table is a fundamental idea in chemistry that bridges the gap between chemical reactions in Year 7 and reactions of metals in Term 3. Through work on heating and cooling, light and sound and magnets, students have a chance to apply simple concepts concerning conversion of energy. This is both a chance to review these fundamental ideas and apply them in other contexts throughout the curriculum.|
|Year 9||The topics in Year 9 allow a firm basis for consolidating the knowledge of Year 7 and 8 as well as laying a foundation for the topics covered in GCSE. Genetic variation and health and disease provide an opportunity to revisit basic ideas about cell structure, but support increasing understanding about the complexity of biological molecules and how cells interact. Students revisit ideas about chemical interactions with reference to 21st Century issues such as how to extract metals and environmental chemistry. And the concepts of electricity are revisited in more depth, along with applying prior knowledge about forces to concepts such as motion and pressure.|
Each topic ends with a 15 mark assessment designed to be completed, marked and feedback provided within one lesson. This is to assess new knowledge gained and to allow students to identify areas where they need further support. These assessments are in a multiple choice format and the philosophy is ‘low floor, high ceiling’. We would expect all students to achieve a reasonable number of marks, facilitated by the accessible format, but achieving full marks represents a suitable challenge to students for whom this is more appropriate.
Additionally at the end of each term there will be a formal, longer format exam to assess assimilation of knowledge over a longer period of time. Along with the shorter format assessments these form the basis of our decisions in terms of further interventions for students if progress is not being made. These could be in terms of the school reporting systems, or parental contact, or moving groups or just in designing specific priorities for homework to help with gaps in knowledge.
Homework is set regularly by the class teacher according to the needs of students within the group and their progress. There are assessed homework tasks for each topic that particularly focus on acquisition of scientific skills as discussed above. Again, these will be assessed in lessons and feedback given so students can gain an understanding of the importance of these skills and how to improve.
Key Stage 4:
Students in Key Stage 4 follow the Edexcel GCSE course of study. This will either be Combined Science or Triple Science. Students are invited to apply for Triple Science at the end of Year 9. Due to the increased academic demand of the triple science course, applications are reviewed carefully, taking into account a range of factors, including academic performance, behaviour, attitude to learning and homework completion.
As a faculty, we have fully reviewed this syllabus and planned bespoke schemes of work that allow students to achieve all the prescribed learning objectives of their course. There is a clear rationale for the teaching sequence of the various topics and a clear programme of practical work that supports the core practical element of the GCSE.
Summary of Content
|Year 9||Students begin with Topic 9 (Ecosystems and Material Cycles) in the final term of Year 9. This will enable us to complete material promptly in Year 11, and also links to previous KS3 work on feeding relationships. Key core practical and theoretical work is based around field work and sampling and this is much easier to complete in the summer term. Along with a slightly less cognitive demand this topic is ideal as a review of previous KS3 work and an introduction to some of the ideas concerning interconnectedness within Biology.|
|Year 10||Students begin Year 10 with Key Concepts in Biology which allows us to review and develop key ideas from KS3. It also introduces mathematical skills early on that will be essential for the course. The remaining content follows logically. We review control of cells and communication (Topic 2); then support a developing understanding of Genetics (Topic 3); before we move on to Selective Breeding/GM (Topic 4). Year 10 work is completed by applying these key ideas to understand issues concerning the cellular basis for health and disease (Topic 5).|
|Year 11||We begin Year 11 study with a focus on plant structures and how they support photosynthesis (Topic 6). This again builds on prior learning concerning cell structure and adaptation and interactions of cells, tissues and organs. The final weeks of warm weather support important core practical work. We then review the core principles of respiration again with students and similarly to Topic 7 how this is facilitated by specially adapted cells, tissues and organs in animals (Topic 8). The course is completed with a recap of communication within and between cells (as a review of key ideas in Topic 2) with a particular focus on hormones (Topic 7). Students are expected to look at particular case studies such as control of metabolism, menstruation and Diabetes. This allows again application of ideas and understanding gained from previous topics.|
|Year 9||In the summer term of Year 9, students cover the basics of the particle model – building on content covered in Year 7. They will also cover separating techniques as this will enable students to begin to apply what they have previously learned about the chemical and physical properties of particles. Coupled with the relative academic accessibility of this material, this should provide a firm basis for an introduction to GCSE Chemistry.|
|Year 10||At the beginning of Year 10 students will learn the basics of atomic structure, learning what atoms are made up of and how they are arranged. They revisit the idea of patterns and periodicity and look at the periodic table in more detail. Learning how to interpret this information will provide a good foundation for understanding future topics. They will then apply this knowledge to provide explanations for different types of bonding and chemical reactions. Topics towards the end of Year 10 are more maths based to provide cross-curricular opportunities and support with the development of these skills in preparation for the increased academic demand in Year 11.|
|Year 11||These last topics follow on really logically from those in Year 10 as they start to secure pupil’s understanding and allows them to apply their prior learning to new and relevant situations. They cover issues that are topical including fuels and climate change.|
|Year 9||Students begin the course in the summer term learning about different forms of waves and how these are a medium for energy transfer. It will develop ideas about sound and light that they have covered previously. This provides enough of a link with prior KS3 learning to reassure less confident students while facilitating development of key concepts and mathematical skills.|
|Year 10||Students continue into Year 10 with work on radioactivity. This provides many opportunities for useful cross-curricular links with some of the more physical content from GCSE Chemistry. Students then explore more advanced ideas surrounding Motion and Forces (Topics 1 and 2) which build on ideas from Key Stage 3, but developing a more mathematical approach.|
|Year 11||Year 11 begins with a focus on electricity and electromagnetism (Topics 10-13). This immediately provides students with the opportunity to bring together a body of collected knowledge on the nature of forces and fundamental particles and apply it in various contexts. This is further reinforced for the remainder of the first two terms of Year 11 with extended and applied work on the particle model (Topic 14) and how forces affect matter (Topic 15).|
Students complete a 20 mark short answer test at the end of each topic or group of topics, which uses exam questions to assess the key knowledge students need to progress. This is completed, marked and students are given feedback in one lesson. These results are recorded by students in a tracker in their books, allowing them to visualise topics they need more support in for homework and revision. Students also complete long answer questions in each topic, which they are given feedback on to help support them in the correct use of key language.
Homework is set on a weekly basis using Seneca, which is an online platform. Classroom teachers can set regular lesson appropriate tasks for the work completed that week. Students log on to the platform and complete the tasks and these are also marked. This can be overseen by the teacher and any patterns in progress causing concern can be factored into forward planning.
Mock examinations are carried out at the end of Year 10 and in the autumn and spring of Year 11. In Year 11 these opportunities are supported by a comprehensive revision program facilitated by targeted completion of primary syllabus content by half term in February. Revision priorities are personalised for each student following comprehensive feedback given after each mock exam. In cases where students are felt to not be making the appropriate progress, booster sessions are made available as are a wide range of revision sessions throughout the faculty, including further mock exam practice during the Easter break.
Support of PP and SEND students
As a faculty we are always acutely aware that pupil premium students are at risk of under-achievement in Science for a range of complex reasons. We are also aware that there may already be a gap in their academic progress compared to their peers when one considers the often inconsistent provision of Science teaching during primary education. Increasingly our setting decisions prior to Key Stage 4 are focused on providing as positive an experience as possible for our pupil premium students as we possibly can. This includes setting students in groups working at a higher level of academic attainment and progress as previously indicated by assessment data. We would also look to be guided by primary school colleagues via the pastoral team to ensure that pupil premium students are exposed to a range of positive role models as this may have been an impediment to their progress in the past.
These students will then be further supported by being considered first when designing seating plans, during learning sequences with differentiation and targeted questioning and also homework support where necessary following liaison with the pastoral team and the home environment where appropriate. We would always look to make the opportunity to study Triple Science available to as a wide a range of students as possible, but also promote entry to higher tier Combined Science where we feel on the balance of professional judgement and assessment data this is a more appropriate pathway. Whatever pathway is best for our pupil premium students we would look to make support as consistent as possible. During Key Stage 4 this would be reinforced by a dynamic programme of booster sessions during afternoon registration time. These sessions are led by experienced members of the faculty with a focus on reinforcing particularly difficult or complex concepts that may be a significant barrier to progress.
As our SENDCO is an experienced and long-standing member of the faculty, we are well placed to extend all of these strategies and philosophies to our students with SEND. We are becoming increasingly confident as a group of practitioners to differentiate learning episodes where necessary for students for whom SEND may initially present a barrier to progress. We recognise that similar to students who are pupil premium we need to maintain as much as possible the same high academic expectations for our SEND students. We do recognise however that a small number of students need a more tailored approach to their learning that a traditional classroom would struggle to provide. Accordingly we have a smaller access-style group in each year group. Students in these groups benefit from a greater degree of differentiation and nurture, and often expert support from our highly-trained teaching assistants. Some of these students may also be benefiting from enhanced support detailed by an EHCP. We maintain a progressive attitude to these groups, and would always work towards a dynamic approach with students moving in to an access group or moving out when necessary.