At Choppington Primary School we teach Science through the approaches of Stem Learning Solutions. In Primary Science it is truly crucial that the children get a grasp of the underlying Science concepts. These concepts that permeate through the multiple topics of the curriculum are called Science Models. These are what allow scientists to be creative, solve problems and see fundamental links between phenomena. These are also, the starting point for teaching and allow pupils’ independence to structure their ideas, overcome misconceptions and transfer of learning between topics. Facts make sense because of the underlying concept and pupil responses will be deeper and more extended. Outstanding teaching in both primary science develops, extends and measures a pupil’s ability to think, and that requires teaching through Science Models. Knowledge and associated terminology will be developed along the way.
There are only four fundamental Science Models that weave their way through the whole of the primary curriculum. A teacher who teaches through Models is more confident and targets learning more effectively to promote both security and true mastery. A pupil’s ability to use a model effectively can also be picked up through assessment and so provides a means for measuring how ‘deep’ understanding is developing not only within but also between topics. Teaching becomes easier, learning becomes more targeted and pupil’s responses show increasing depth. Security and mastery ultimately relate to Science Models.
Working Scientifically develops a pupil to make sense of the world through enquiry and experimentation. Science Models are used to describe and explain any evidence generated by enquiry. All lessons should be hands-on, active and include a wide range of strategies and enquiry types to allow pupils to examine concepts through different lenses. Pupils should be encouraged to explore and ask questions that, with increasing experimental expertise and independence, can allow them to investigate for themselves. However, pupils need to learn these techniques progressively through direct teaching and their performance matched against year group expectation to build budding scientists.
Lessons should be focussed to develop key scientific skills such as experimental design, using/presenting data and making valid conclusions. To do this you need criteria that match to year group expectation (Assessment Board©, see below) and lessons that have a narrow focus (dual objectives, see below) so that effective progress can be made. Only then will pupils have a secure hand-rail to investigate the world with independence.
Training, demonstration and in-class support can enable teachers to use Science Models and Working Scientifically effectively.
The Assessment Board© has been developed in conjunction with schools across the North East through Science Coordinator Networks. It matches the National Curriculum for Science in both principle and process. It follows a skills-approach and works in conjunction with a Model-based approach to teaching.
This assessment and planning tool ensures:
- Easy to use assessment criteria that can be used in the classroom, with pupils, to support their progression and develop them as independent learners. They are designed to support both formative and summative assessment during lessons. Also, the criteria are generic so that performance can be tracked across topics and Key Stages to show progress over time.
- Assessment can be used to support next steps. The criteria have been matched against year group expectations and can be used as next steps in the classroom or as objective to set the correct challenge for a lesson (dual objective planning, see below). Hence, the Assessment Board can be used as both an assessment and a planning tool which ensures a clear and unambiguous means of delivering the National Curriculum for pace and appropriate challenge.
- Pupils will be ‘secondary ready’ by the end of year 6. Criteria from both the primary and secondary phase are matched to year group equivalence in the primary phase. These separate criteria are overlapped and blended to form criteria that correctly prepares pupils for expectations required by secondary schools. This has been done over many years of collaborative development within network schools. The development of conceptual Science Models and specific enquiry skills are the real ‘passports’ necessary for effective transition. The use of the next steps criteria used within secondary schools in some regions at KS3/4 also supports this transfer.
- Scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding are assessed by ‘depth’ through the recognition of conceptual ‘Model’ threads running through the curriculum, as well as factual and terminology recall. It ensures that pupils have the correct conceptual thinking to hit the ground running once they enter secondary education (where teaching through Models is already recognised as a successful way of teaching). Security and mastery relate to embedded learning leading to resilience, fluency and application. By recognising the use of Models in assessment we can effectively support these stages.
- Working Scientifically is developed effectively through progressive skill steps and can be mapped clearly across year groups/Key Stages so that expectations can be reached and pupils become ‘truly’ secondary ready. The use of dual objective planning (see below) is crucial to focus teaching and demonstrate leaning in enquiry skills whilst still supporting the ‘content’ curriculum (NC expectation).
- English and, especially, mathematics are developed in tandem through common criteria matched to year group expectation and can also be co-assessed. Developing cross-curriculum blended learning is also vital for problem-solving skills necessary for STEM approaches.
Dual Objective Planning
The Assessment Board© skills and criteria can be used to create specific skills foci to lessons and objectives related to expectation. This ensures that:
- Lessons develop both content and skills to an appropriate challenge for the class during a lesson
- Creates a skills focus so that ensures skills, such as Working Scientifically, are taught through the content (see NC guidelines) and allows progress to be demonstrated clearly
- Skill objectives can be made more/less challenging for groups or individuals within a class. This allows for effective differentiation without the need to change the teaching focus
- Mixed year groups can easily taught within the same class by teaching through a topic (content objective) but changing the skill objective to make the challenge appropriate for each year group.
- Dual objective planning is widely (nationally) recognised as an effective way to teach outstanding science. However, other science assessment and planning schemes that are in wide circulation, such as TAPS (Teacher Assessment in Primary Science), use a form of dual objective planning (‘Focussed Assessment’) but do not offer the specific criteria necessary for accurate pitching of lessons to year group expectation. The Assessment Board© offers everything needed to drive science learning forward at pace in your school.
Our Long Term Science topics are on our Yearly Planners – see Topic Curriculum.