Westwood Primary School
Science Curriculum Statement of Intent
At Westwood we want our children to be naturally curious about the world around them. Our curriculum has been developed to ensure full coverage of the National Curriculum and to foster a sense of wonder about natural phenomena. We are committed to providing a stimulating, engaging and challenging learning environment. Throughout our school children are encouraged to develop and use a range of working scientifically skills including questioning, researching and observing for ourselves. We promote and celebrate these skills. We want our children to have a broad scientific vocabulary. Scientific language is of high priority and is taught and built upon as topics are revisited in different year groups and across key stages. We intend to provide all children with a broad and balanced science curriculum regardless of their background or starting points. Through this we will inspire pupils, helping them to understand the opportunities Science can provide and where it can lead them in their future success.
To ensure high standards of teaching and learning in science at Westwood, we implement a curriculum that is progressive throughout the school. Planning for science is a process in which all teachers ensure that the school gives full coverage of The National Curriculum programmes of study for Science and Understanding of the World in the Early Years Foundation Stage as well as ensuring children are immersed in the 5 areas of scientific enquiry.
Below outlines the progression through the 5 areas of scientific enquiry at Westwood:
Observing changes over a period of time - In Early Years children are given lots of opportunities to observe changes in their surroundings. The children in Nursery spend a lot of time outdoors in their ‘nursery garden’ where they plant strawberries, seasonal flowers and other garden vegetables, they are then encouraged to use their developing use of language to talk about what they see, taste and hear. This is developed in Reception when the children make half termly visits to the local park (Middleton Park) and notice seasonal changes and make comments about the weather and patterns they see. The children are encouraged to be ‘risk takers’ and become curious about their world, sometimes something as simple as jumping in a muddy puddle evokes so much critical thinking. This is extended in Key Stage 1 where the children are given opportunities to ‘experience and observe phenomena’. They take monthly walks around school, noticing seasonal changes and weather, they are encouraged to observe changes and develop their scientific understanding of why? ‘Why do the leaves fall off in Autumn?’ this links to what do plants need to survive? Children make links between what they observe and what they already know. In Lower Key Stage 2 children continue to develop their observational skills, the children are encouraged to ask their own questions about what they observe, this is evident during their ‘Egypt Explorers’ adventure they observe changes to an apple when using mummification techniques. The children then use what they have observed and make supported decisions on which type of scientific enquiry are likely to be the best way of answering their questions. Moving into Upper Key Stage 2 the children will select the most appropriate ways to answer science questions one of which is through them observing changes over different periods of time one way our Year 5/6 show this is during their ‘Space’ Adventure when they learn about light and shadows. The children make detailed observations about the time of day and the effect this has on the shadows cast. They then choose the most effective way to show their finding out.
Noticing patterns – Within ‘Knowledge and Understanding of the World’ in the Early Years curriculum children must ‘Look closely at similarities and differences, patterns and change.’ This statement relies on the development of many areas of scientific enquiry one of which is noticing pattern. Within Early Years the children are constantly engaged in open-ended activities (playing and exploring) during this they are encouraged to comment and ask questions about their natural world. They closely observe what animals do, this is evident in their ‘Finding Home’ adventure when the children visit ‘Yorkshire Wildlife Park’ leading up to the visit children learn about habitats and similarities and differences between different animals. During the visit they closely observe the animals making comments and asking simple questions. This skill is built upon in Key Stage 1 where children learn to notice patterns and relationships, continuing with hands on, practical opportunities. During their science subject ‘plants’ the children get to create their own ‘flower potions’ they use various parts of flowers and plants, identifying the features and commenting on what they notice. In Lower Key Stage 2 children their noticing pattern skills to draw simple conclusions and use scientific language, first to talk about and, later to write about what they have found out. Year 3 and 4 demonstrate this when covering ‘electricity’ they carry out practical experiments to find conductors and insulators of electricity, they then use their findings to talk about what a conductor and insulator is and find patterns between these materials. The children then decide what data to collect to identify the objects. In Upper Key Stage 2 children use what they have previously learnt about pattern finding and data collection to look for casual relationships in their data and identify evidence that refutes or supports their ideas. The children do this when testing gravitational pull on parachutes they make during their ‘Space’ topic, recording data such as the effect of the size of the parachute on the speed the parachute falls.
Grouping and classifying things – Within Early Years the children explore and develop their ideas of grouping, sequences, cause and effect through their knowledge about similarities and differences. They do this through their local environment on walks, abstract objects we place in sensory trays, variety of different textured materials and observing living things in the woods, outdoor areas and school field. When the Reception Children visit Skelton grange during the Autumn Term, they find the best ways to group the different leaves and minibeast they find through observing similarities in features. Children in Key Stage 1 build upon this by using simple features to compare objects, materials and living things, they demonstrate this during their ‘We all live on a Yellow Submarine’ topic when they have a ‘meet a creature’ experience. With help, the children decide how to sort and group (identify and classify) the animals such as amphibians, reptile, birds and mammals. During this Key Stage the children also build on their ability to raise their own simple questions to support them in grouping and classifying. In Lower Key Stage 2 children develop a deeper understanding of this skill and begin to use simple keys to support grouping, sorting and classifying. They demonstrate this during the their ‘Romans on the Rampage’ adventure when the children must use simple keys to sort and classify solids, liquids and gases. In Upper Key Stage 2 these skills are built on further and children develop their own keys to identify, classify and describe living things and materials. They then identify patterns that might be found in the natural environment. One example of this is when the children are learning about ‘light’ during their ‘World War’ Adventure. The children must develop the best black out material to use during black out time and they then record their finding and identify patterns.
Carrying out simple comparative tests – The Early Years children develop an early interest in natural phenomena during their time in Nursery and Reception. Knowledgeable and experienced staff find ways of encouraging children to develop problem solving skills, evident during our ‘Great Fairy Tale Disaster’ Adventure, when children explored different ways to answer the question, how can we get the gingerbread man across the river? Children are then expected to test out ideas and find new ways to do thing. In Key Stage 1 the children build upon their experience of critical thinking and problem solving to carry out simple tests commenting and asking simple questions about what happened, during their ‘seasonal changes’ work in Year 1 the children make tables and chart about the weather using what they have observed including the amount of rainfall through the seasons. This is also evident in their ‘plants’ subject when they set up a comparative test to find out if plants need sunlight and water to grow. Skills are continued and built upon when children in Lower Key Stage 2 set up and carry out simple practical enquiries, comparative and fair test and recognise when a simple fair test is necessary and help to decide how to set it up. During their ‘Forces and Magnets’ subject the children must carry out a test to find out how far things move on different surfaces, what effects different materials have on the speed of toy cars and whether the angle of the ramp effects the speed of the toy car.
In Upper Key Stage 2, the children continue to develop these skills and use them to recognise when and how to set up comparative and fair tests and explain which variables need to be controlled and why. This was evident in Year 6 during their ‘Rocking all over the world’ Adventure, they visited Tokyo where they discovered electricity was used to light up all the buildings there. The children were asked to carry out a test to find the most effective materials to create a switch.
Finding things out using secondary sources of information – The Early Years children are encouraged to comment and asks questions about aspects of their familiar world such as the place where they live or the natural world. We support this learning in Early Years by taking every opportunity to learn outdoors and visit areas of local interest such as nature reserves, local woodland and pond, school field and Early Years outdoor areas. The skills taught in the Early Years allow children in Key Stage 1 to confidently ask people questions to find out additional facts and information and develop an understanding of secondary sources of information such as books and the internet. Skills are continued in Lower Key Stage 2 as the children recognise when and how secondary sources might help them to answer questions that cannot be answered through practical investigations. This is demonstrated during ‘Rocks’ subject when the children research different kind of living things whose fossils are found in sedimentary rock and explore how fossils are formed. In Upper Key Stage 2 the children continue to develop these skills and can recognise which secondary sources will be most useful to research their ideas and begin to separate opinion from fact. This is evident during their ‘Animals, including humans’ topic when the children independently use secondary sources to research the gestation periods of other animals and compare gestation time to the size of the animal.
Through teacher modelling and planned questioning we want our children to wonder about and be amazed and surprised by the world around them as we recognise that our children sometimes lack experiences. Key scientific language is modelled throughout lessons enabling our children to be familiar with and use vocabulary accurately. Teachers show case the Scientific work of their class through our annual Science Fair and we encourage teachers to plan in trips and visits to enhance our children’s learning experience whenever possible.
At Westwood we aspire to promote children’s love of learning and we rely on ‘pupil voice’ to ensure learning is memorable. Whole school assessment trackers are used to analyse progress, these trackers follow the child through school showing any areas for development or gaps in learning. The Assessment trackers are filled out after each Science subject is taught and at the end of each unit each child carries out a age appropriate topic specific test. These assessments are marked against National Curriculum expectations and Working Scientifically skills.