At Gilmour, we strive to enable children to build on their natural curiosity and to shape it into scientific enquiry. We nurture inquisitive minds to go from wondering ‘what if?’ to ‘lets find out’. Science is a hands on subject where each lesson provides new avenues for children to explore. Our children observe and ask questions with intrigue and excitement. We scaffold learning and skills so that children develop their understanding of the world around them with a critical eye, as well as building the confidence needed to carry out their own experiments. Children explore, collect evidence and test their own hypotheses. Science is about asking good questions, suggesting possible explanations, and then testing them to see if they make sense, and there is no one more naturally equipped to do this than children.
Our school delivers the National Curriculum objectives through hands on, practical lessons with ‘working scientifically’ at its core. We learn about plants, animals, habitats, changing seasons and much more (please see our curriculum maps for a more detailed overview). We expect all of our children to be able to use the correct vocabulary for each topic and to remember it long after the topic is over. We plan for high level vocabulary that is suitable yet challenging for our children. Children are given many opportunities to carry out practical observations within our school grounds as well as researching footage for things we cannot observe in school. Children will plan, carry out and evaluate experiments and observations throughout their time here and by the end of Year 2 we expect that they are able to do this independently with confidence. Children choose what, how and why they use resources and discuss with their friends their reasoning for doing so. We help to build happy scientists who leave our school ready to take on their next challenge in year 3.
Starting with the subject content outlined in the National Curriculum Programme of Study, we have developed a science curriculum alongside SIL, which ensures coverage and progression across the key stages. All staff members are given training on our curriculum and how to effectively implement it. Science is taught weekly allowing children to develop their knowledge and skills effectively whilst also maintaining knowledge from previous learning. At the beginning of each science lesson, previous knowledge and vocabulary is rehearsed through games and quick activities. This is also displayed on working walls for the children to access at all times. Children record their learning in their personal science books as well as a class ‘Working Scientifically’ book which shows aspects of science lessons that are not required to be recorded individually such as; pictures of investigations, thought showers, post it notes, etc.
In our medium-term plans, we set out key concepts that are developed during each topic. Each topic begins with a knowledge web which is built upon in science lessons and reflected upon at the end of the topic. Teachers plan activities and resources with scientific enquiry at its core, enabling children to develop their skills and knowledge simultaneously. Teachers use many forms of formative assessment to monitor understanding and plan next steps for children which are personal to them.
We have a range of ways to find out what the children know. At the beginning and end of each concept taught, we use concept cartoons to address any misconceptions. We observe children during set independent activities to see how they are using the new vocabulary they have been introduced to, and to see their understanding of what has been taught. We encourage the children to talk during class discussions, group and paired work. Pupil voice is collected frequently and comments are added to ‘Working Scienfically ‘books and our working walls. We also collect photographic evidence which is recorded in our ‘Working Scientifically’ books. We revisit previous topics to assess if the children have remembered previous learning and can reflect upon this in our science books which are carried through Key Stage 1.
Teachers are given statements for each topic to assess children against throughout the topic. We have also developed ‘I can . . .’ assessment sheets, with statements taken directly from the National Curriculum Programmes of Study. As each unit of work is covered, we consider the related intended learning, recognise children who are working at the expected standard.
Monitoring in science includes work book scrutinies, lesson observations and/or learning walks, pupil voice interviews / questionnaires in order to ascertain correct curriculum coverage, the quality of teaching and learning as well as the children’s attitudes to learning science. This information is then used to inform further curriculum developments and provision is adapted accordingly.