Curriculum & Assessment
Science at Stillness
By the time children leave Stillness, they will have developed their knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts. In Y3 and Y4 pupils will broaden their scientific view of the world around them through exploring, talking about, testing and developing ideas about everyday phenomena and the relationships between living things and familiar environments, and by beginning to develop their ideas about functions, relationships and interactions.
Children should be able to ask their own questions about what they observe and make some decisions about which types of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best ways of answering them, including observing changes over time, noticing patterns, grouping and classifying things, carrying out simple comparative and fair tests and finding things out using secondary sources of information. In Y5 and Y6, the children will learn about more abstract ideas in science and begin to recognise how these ideas help them to understand and predict how the world operates.
The science curriculum is woven into many different cross-curricular activities at Stillness Junior School. Teachers create a positive attitude to science learning within their classrooms and reinforce an expectation that all pupils are capable of achieving high standards in science.
Science is taught in planned and arranged topic blocks by the class teacher, to have a project-based approach. This is a strategy to enable the achievement of a greater depth of knowledge and progression across the year groups.
Each new unit of work begins with a recap of the previous related knowledge from previous years. This helps children to retrieve what they have learnt in the earlier sequence of the programme of study, and ensures that new knowledge is taught in the context of previous learning to promote a shift in long-term memory. Key vocabulary for the new topic is also introduced as part of this ‘unit introduction’ and children are shown the ‘Topic Vocabulary be it as part of the classroom display or it is incorporated into the teaching of each lesson. This provides definitions and accompanying visuals for each word to ensure accessibility to all. This approach also means that children are able to understand the new vocabulary when it is used in teaching and learning activities and apply it themselves when they approach their work.
The KWL process is used throughout each unit of work. Once children know the new vocabulary for the unit and how it relates to previous learning, the children are asked what they already know specifically about the new topic. This provides the teacher with an insight into the children’s ‘starting points’ for the topic, to enable the use of assessment to inform planning. The children are then also asked what they would like to know and class responses are collated and used to inform the programme of study to ensure an aspect of ‘focussed interest planning’.
Within all lessons, teachers plan a phase of progressive questioning which extends to and promotes the higher order thinking of all learners. The questions that teachers ask within the same lesson phase focus on the children’s own work and how they might change or create an outcome and justify a choice they have made which is based on their evaluation. In addition to this and at the end of some lessons, teachers will provide children with next step activity that will consolidate the learning in class and move their learning on.
Through our planning, we involve problem-solving opportunities that allow children to apply their knowledge, and find out answers for themselves. Children are encouraged to ask their own questions and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover the answers. This curiosity is celebrated within the classroom. Planning involves teachers creating engaging lessons, often involving high-quality resources to aid understanding of conceptual knowledge. Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual knowledge and skills. Tasks are selected and designed to provide appropriate challenge to all learners, in line with the school’s commitment to inclusion.
We build upon the knowledge and skill development of the previous years. As the children’s knowledge and understanding increases, they become more proficient in selecting, using scientific equipment, collating and interpreting results. This creates a platform for them to become increasingly confident in their growing ability to come to conclusions based on real evidence.
Teachers demonstrate how to use scientific equipment, and the various Working Scientifically skills in order to embed scientific understanding. Teachers find opportunities to develop children’s understanding of their surroundings by accessing outdoor learning and workshops with experts.
Science Week allows all pupils to come off-timetable, to provide broader provision and the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills. They are able to experience success having learned something new.
Relationships Education is taught as part of the science curriculum in all year groups (Y3 -Y6) during the summer term. Our approach is to provide a framework of understanding that helps the children interpret what is happening and what will happen to them physically and emotionally as they approach adolescence with an understanding of how to be and stay healthy. It is taught sensitively and inclusively, with respect to the backgrounds and beliefs of pupils and parents with the underpinning aim of providing pupils with the knowledge they need of the law and how it affects them. In addition, these lessons form key building blocks for healthy, respectful relationships, focusing on family and friendships, in all contexts, including online. Positive emotional wellbeing, including how friendships support mental wellbeing is also an integral part of the lessons. This gives them the knowledge and capability to take care of themselves and receive support if problems arise. Parents are invited to view resources used in our teaching before the children see them and are welcome to ask questions and discuss matters for fully with the class teacher.
At the end of each topic, key knowledge is reviewed by the children and rigorously checked by the teacher and consolidated as necessary.
The successful approach at Stillness Juniors results in a fun, engaging, high-quality science education that provides children with the foundations and knowledge for understanding the world. Our engagement with the local environment ensures that children learn through varied and first hand experiences of the world around them. Learning outside the classroom is embedded throughout the science curriculum. Through workshops and trips, children have the understanding that science has changed our lives and that it is vital to the world’s future prosperity. From this exposure to a varied curriculum, all children learn not only that Science is everywhere, but also that they can be actively involved in the process, further creating a school of motivated learners with a sound scientific understanding.