“For young learners, science is just an extension of their everyday world. We don’t have to teach young children how to wonder, discover, and explore through play because they do it naturally." - Steve Spangler
What do we want for our children?Science is a way of thinking, and a way of looking at and understanding the world in which we live. Asking questions, challenging ideas, and thinking critically with the support of evidence are all life skills that are learnt and developed through the teaching of science.
Jean Piaget said that children are ‘active builders of knowledge, little scientists who construct their own theories of the world’, and this is at the heart of our approach to science teaching and learning. Walk into a science lesson at Preston Park, and you never know what you might encounter: from recreating parts of the human digestive system in Year 4, to dissecting plants in Year 1, designing and making electrical circuits in Year 6, or investigating shadows in Year 3. From the very start of their time in the Early Years, our pupils are encouraged to think creatively and to question how their world works. They are taught how to observe, investigate and evaluate their findings, rising to the challenge of being real ‘scientists’. We aim for the children to develop a sense of responsibility and respect for all living and non-living things.
At Preston Park, we believe in approaching the subject of science through investigation, exploration, active participation and experience. Our science curriculum is therefore enquiry-based. This enables our pupils to satisfy their own intellectual curiosity whilst developing their abilities to make intelligent predictions, to reason, and to draw worthwhile conclusions, using evidence and data as justification. We promote resilience and independence of thought and approach, ultimately aiming for our pupils to see for themselves the relationships between what we learn in the classroom and everyday life.
Throughout the year, academic trips are organised to link with each year group’s science curriculum. Annually, the school participates in the national British Science Week venture, focusing on a different theme each year. All Key Stages (including the EYFS) take part in a variety of activities and investigations across this two-week period. We also invite a variety of skilled and knowledgeable visitors in to carry out learning workshops and investigations, to supplement the learning taking place in the classroom.
How do we deliver this effectively?
We have a specialist science teacher who teaches classes across the school. Our science laboratory is a fantastic learning space which enables us to deliver practical, engaging and active lessons. Our aim is to provide meaningful experiences to develop understanding of the natural world. We seek to provide a creative curriculum to ensure pupils are motivated, engaged and enthused by the subject and above all, passionate young scientists! We also enjoy celebrating ‘Science Week’ annually with activities and events across the school.
Each science unit plans to meet the criteria of the National Curriculum , extending children’s scientific and conceptual understanding, as well as their awareness of the nature, processes and methods of science. There is an equal focus on teaching the children how to work scientifically and ensuring that they acquire appropriate scientific knowledge, with emphasis being put upon five core scientific skills: planning, observing, recording, concluding and evaluating.
Each year group studies between five and six science units per year. These units are rooted in the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics, and are rotated so that in a year, every cohort will have spent time learning about each core discipline. Each year group also spends some time looking at individual scientists or inventors from around the world who have had a major impact on our lives in some way. Our curriculum is organised logically, so that units of learning that focus on plants, growing or light, for example, are taught in summer term, as this is when the plants and flowers are in their growing period, and the light is stronger and more consistent for observing shadows.
Our varied science curriculum is presented systematically to ensure that children’s knowledge and understanding progresses steadily throughout their time with us. By Year 6, we expect pupils to be showing a deeper understanding of a wide range of scientific ideas, drawing upon and utilising knowledge and skills taught all the way through the school.
- Technical vocabulary
- Specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
- Nature, processes and methods
- The world around them
- The uses and implications of science, today and for the future
- Pattern seeking
- Observation over time
- Grouping and classifying
- Using equipment and fair testing
- Seeking answers to problems through questioning
- Seeking answers to questions through collecting and presenting data
- Practical enquiries
- Collecting data and results
- Recording findings
- Conclusion and explanation
- Making comparisons
- Using evidence to support or refute ideas
We have an inclusive approach which supports children with SEND. At Preston Park, teachers adapt and tailor their lessons to meet both the learning and physical needs of all children.
The science curriculum is practical as much as possible, and allows children to explore and learn in a kinaesthetic way. This itself lends itself to inclusivity during science lessons. Science units are designed to suits to needs and abilities of all children, including those with SEND and detailed examples of differentiation are included on ever unit plan. At the planning stage, any additional adaptations are considered and planned for by the class teacher to ensure all children can access the lessons. Examples of this may include pre teaching of new concepts or key vocabulary, visual supports in class such as word mats and additional use of knowledge organisers, mixed ability pairs and groups or at times 1:1 support from an adult. Occasionally, if SEND means that a lesson is inaccessible for a child in class, discussions with the SENDCo will occur, in liaison with the science leader to ensure adaptations are made.
What does this look like for our children?
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
In the Early Years Foundation Stage, children are actively encouraged to notice, talk about and explore the world around them and think about how it works, through both indoor and outdoor provision. This includes noticing and observing processes and features of their immediate environments, for example, changes in plants each season, the weather, different sounds, and different properties of materials, through one of the 7 areas of learning; ‘Understanding the World’ . Their scientific learning mostly takes the form of hands on exploration, which is in turn supported by both child and adult-led activity, discussion and questioning. By the time the children are in Reception, they are beginning to develop more subject specific knowledge through their more formally taught ‘topic’ sessions, such as how humans grow and change, and the basics of plant life. This then forms the foundation for the discrete and more in-depth science curriculum and teaching that begins in Year 1.
The early learning goals in the EYFS aim to guide children in their exploration of the world around them, and their experiences of processes, objects, materials and living things. Through this, they can begin to attribute meaning to the similarities, differences, patterns and changes that they can see around them.
Key Stage 1 (Years One and Two)
In Years 1 and 2, children begin to engage more actively in scientific enquiry, exploring different ways in which they can ask questions. They are taught to use technical vocabulary through discussion, and how to make sensible predictions. They are supported in setting up and performing simple tests or investigations based around a question, using specific equipment. They are shown how to make close observations and to talk about what they notice, in groups or as a whole class. The children are supported in recording data they have collected in simple charts or graphs, and begin to classify and group information, using their knowledge and understanding of scientific processes.
Autumn and Winter
Uses of Materials
Animals: Needs for Survival
Spring and Summer
Protecting our Environment
Plants and Growth
Lower Key Stage 2 (Years Three and Four)
During years 3 and 4, children continue to immerse themselves in practical enquiry-based science learning, building upon their understanding and experience from Key Stage 1. Children will become increasingly confident when considering more complex scientific questions, perhaps being given a problem to solve and considering their own enquiry questions. They will continue to plan for and set up practical investigations, and will learn how to ensure they are appropriately comparative, as well as a fair test.
Children ask relevant questions and carry out simple practical enquires, comparative and fair tests to draw conclusions. They make systematic and careful observations and take accurate measurements to gather data using a range of equipment. These findings are recorded using scientific language, drawings, labelled diagrams, keys, bar charts and tables. Children use their results to make predictions, suggest improvements and raise further scientific questions.
Skeletons, Muscles and Nutrition
Rocks and Fossils
Teeth and Digestion
States of Matter
|Lights and Shadows
|Living Things and Environments
Plants: Need for Survival
Forces and Magnets
Upper Key Stage 2
During years 5 and 6, children will be able to report and present their findings clearly in oral and written form, drawing their own conclusions and using relevant language to justify scientific ideas. They will be supported in considering when further investigations or observations might be needed in order to answer additional questions that may have arisen. They will make practical suggestions about how their working methods could be improved, learning from experience. By the end of the key stage, some children will consider casual relationships in the data they have collected, and begin to identify scientific evidence that supports or refutes the ideas or arguments they have identified, linking these to concepts or problems beyond their initial enquiry questions.
When planning comparative and fair tests, children will include consideration of different variables and how changes to these might impact results. Predictions made will be based on scientific knowledge and understanding. Children will be able to make systematic and careful observations, taking measurements with increasing accuracy and precision and using a range of more complex equipment with skill. They are taught to use specific scientific language when recording their findings, and will present increasingly complex data accurately and in a variety of ways, including scientific diagram, scatter and bar charts, line graphs and tables. These can then be used to make predictions to set up further tests.
Earth and Space
|Materials: Properties and Changes
|Evolution and Inheritance
Circulation and Lifestyle
Progression in Skills and Understanding
How does our Science curriculum contribute to and develop our 21st Century learner?
The outcome of our rich science curriculum will be children who are able to think about the way the world works and their own future in it. They will know how to observe and question the world around them, with knowledge and understanding at its core.
They will find the answers to questions such as:
- Why do we see ‘history’ whenever we look at the stars?
- What can you see when there is absolutely no light?
- Where does a puddle go?
Our teachers encourage each pupil to take part in discussion, experience the joy of discovery, hone sophisticated practical experimental skills, and become independent in reading and research. The subject also supports children in developing skills in critical thinking, creativity and curiosity. These skills are all paramount to any direction, career or future our pupils might choose. Carefully planned and resourced units of learning will allow pupils at Preston Park to immerse themselves in these inspiring, exploratory and practical experiences.
Building a solid scientific knowledge base alongside learning the skills required to plan, carry out investigations and analyse results is critical to supporting development through primary and into secondary education. As Albert Einstein, himself, said “The important thing is to not stop questioning.” Each and every one of our pupils is a ‘young scientist’ encouraged to ask questions and work scientifically to find their own answers. Through all our science teaching our aims are to;
- Develop pupils’ enjoyment and interest in science
- Develop pupils’ understanding of key scientific concepts and scientific skills
- Ensure that pupils understand the relevance of what they are learning
Science provides our pupils with a range of opportunities to become 21st Century learners. We pride ourselves on developing problem-solvers, critical thinkers and innovators through our curriculum.
Research frames our thinking in what we teach and how we deliver it to our children to ensure teaching and learning has maximum impact.
Please see references to the research linked above: