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A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science.
Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.
The Science department at Harris Academy Orpington strives to ensure every child is able to understand and critically evaluate any scientific problem they may be faced with in an ever-changing, modern world. Through the extensive courses that we offer, we seek to provide an inspiring range of experiences both in and outside the classroom.
Science allows our students to think in an alternative way using a variety of approaches including observing, identifying, classifying and collecting data to answer scientific questions. Our students through their study are able to discuss key issues such as the impact of population size, climate change and the uses of fossil fuels. Our program of study at the academy encourages students to ‘work scientifically’ by collecting, analysing and representing data.
Once students have gained a good understanding on key ideas in Biology, Chemistry and Physics they are able to develop their ability to ‘work scientifically’ as they progress from Key Stage 3 to Key Stage 5. Science is fundamental in the National Curriculum where some of its key concepts have links to other subject areas enabling students to broaden their understanding in other areas such as Geography, Maths and History.
What is the intention of the curriculum?
Our Science curriculum at the academy encapsulates key skills such as thinking scientifically, carrying out practicals to explore phenomena and translating data, drawing conclusions from these. We take pride in our curriculum providing the scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Students at the academy are not just pushed academically but are equipped with the basic scientific knowledge they need to help answer scientific questions about the world we live in.
Students are able to develop and deepen their understanding of science through practical elements, data interpretation and through exploring facts. Our curriculum aims to develop not only the students’ knowledge of various science concepts but to broaden their skills so they can transfer these to different situations. Scientific enquiry plays a key role in the teaching of science as it encourages students to start thinking scientifically. All science teachers use a range of teaching and learning approaches to help support our students which can be independently driven tasks or those led by teachers. Scientific practical investigations and scientific enquiry helps to motivate and engage our students so they can make sense of the science behind certain concepts and draw links between topics across all sciences.
At the academy we have adopted a spiral design for understanding topics of the curriculum. We have found that by re-visiting key topics throughout the three year course students develop a deeper understanding of the big ideas by having multiple interactions with the concepts. We hope that by using the spiral approach students will be better prepared in apply smaller concepts to more abstract concepts.
How will this be implemented?
In science we aim to encourage all students to think like scientists through the process of enquiring during practical investigations. All Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4 lesson tiles are based on scientific questions which aim to deepen students’ understanding of the key scientific concepts and develop their understanding using balanced reasoning, interpreting data and drawing conclusions from scientific enquiry. At the academy our curriculum for Key Stage 3 mirrors that of the GCSE curriculum enabling students to re-visit topics through a spiral curriculum. These topics work hand in hand with the AQA exam board. Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is based upon key concepts and disciplines which students revisit during their GCSE course including Energy, Climate change, Cells and human processes.
After GCSEs, students may want to move on to study A-level Science. These look into Biology, Chemistry and Physics in more depth.
At Harris Academy Orpington we encourage our students to ‘work scientifically’. Our courses at the academy are designed to develop the students’ ability to think scientifically by learning knowledge behind key concepts, methods, key processes and how this applies in the wider world. Scientific enquiry is divided into four main areas; analyse, communicate, enquire and solve. This enables our students to be able to analyse patterns in their data, draw conclusions communicating their ideas, testing their hypothesis when collecting data and understanding how scientific ideas change over time.
From Key Stage 3 students are challenged through required practical investigations which encapsulate this idea of working scientifically through a cycle of hypothesis, practical experimentation, observation, theory development and review. This key skill is strengthened through Key Stage 4 where students are taught key required practicals with the fundamental knowledge required to access all sciences. This enables them to develop curiosity about the natural world, insight into working scientifically, and appreciation of the relevance of science to their everyday lives.
Assessments in science are important in order to highlight areas where students are doing exceptionally well, and also any grey areas. Using this information, we are able to target such areas and facilitate the consolidation of their learning. Success in science isn’t just based on ‘excellent exam results’ but the key transferable skills students take away with them. However, summative assessments are a large part of our curriculum and are used to evaluate student learning at the end of topics.
There are two main assessment points per year for students in Key Stage 3, two summative assessments for Year 10 followed by two mock exam periods for Year 11 where they are assessed on paper 1 and 2 content. Students are also given various other assessments such as topic tests and intervention weeks where they are able to re-visit topics to gain a deeper understanding. Assessments are marked according to the AQA objectives and are based on GCSE past paper questions and in Year 11 past mock papers.
As Harris Academy Orpington is part of the Harris Federation it allows the science department to use the centralised assessments. This allows our assessment scores to be collected and analysed across all academies in the Federation. For us as a science department is gives us a broader insight into where our students lie in terms of their performance against a large cohort of students across all academies. As a science department we are then able to use this and highlight key content that arises as misconceptions and use our intervention weeks to address these.
At Harris Academy Orpington we ensure that all new members of staff understand the expectations of their classes and that the delivery of the schemes of work are consistent across all classes. Within the science department we have three new members of staff, although they are experienced they will need support to ensure the delivery of all lessons is coherent and the progress of their students is monitored. The academy has three main science consultants which work closely with the head of department to ensure that the delivery of content is at a high standard. In order to ensure there is consistency within our science teaching we as a department and school offer the following support:
- A planned curriculum across all key stages
- All science teachers at Harris Academy Orpington have the opportunity to share their practice with other science teachers across the Federation. There are meeting opportunities which take place throughout the year which are used to support teachers with the effective implementation of the science curriculum
- Twilight sessions for all science NQTs as part of the Harris ITE programme
- New science teachers are mentored during their first year of joining the academy to ensure that they are settling into their new environment well and are teaching to the science curriculum
- Science consultants support GCSE groups providing mentoring and small intervention groups to support underperformers
- Consultants or heads of department lead on CPD
- Head of Science leads departmental meetings in order to coach and model expectations within classroom practice and facilitate new strategies
- New science teachers and non-specialists co-plan with experienced members of staff to model expert science teaching
- Science technicians used to lead on practical demonstrations when required and support larger groups during practicals
- Science teachers to moderate summative assessments and book marking from KS3 to KS5
- Heads of department to carry out weekly learning walks and informal observations to provide support and effective feedback to class teachers. Through learning walks, they to pick up on ‘good practice’ which can be shared across the department
- Individual class teacher meetings with the head of department
Schemes of work rationale
Below are Key Stage 3 curriculum maps showing long term planning and justifications for each topic that is taught across Year 7 and 8. Year 9 will start with practical skills lessons which encourage students to ‘work scientifically’ testing a hypothesis, collecting data and drawing conclusions from the data collected. Skills lessons are based on areas which require improvement from the baseline assessment which all Year 9 students will sit in September before starting the course. All GCSE topics follow the spiral curriculum with various key concepts re-visited throughout the course, enabling students to gain a deeper understanding on some of the big ideas.