At Bridgelea we aim for our children to love and understand science, we are developing scientists at our school. We want them to have no limits to what their ambitions are and grow up wanting to be astronauts, forensic scientists, toxicologists, or microbiologists. The science curriculum has been carefully designed so that our children develop their scientific capital. We want our children to remember their science lessons in our school, to cherish these memories, and embrace the opportunities they are presented with.
The science curriculum promotes curiosity and a love for learning. It is ambitious and empowers our children to become independent and resilient learners. We want to equip them with not only the minimum statutory requirements of the science National Curriculum but to prepare them for the opportunities, responsibilities, and experiences of later life. For example, classes at Bridgelea participate in Farmer Time opportunities where children can communicate with a farmer living on his farm, giving the children the opportunity to experience science in the real world.
We want our children to use the vibrancy of Manchester to learn from other cultures, respect diversity, co-operate with one another and appreciate what they have. We achieve this by providing a strong SMSC curriculum, with British Values and our core values placed at the heart of everything we do. This often feeds into the science curriculum. For example, we visit Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry workshops, giving children an understanding of how Manchester is a leading force in industry.
We enrich their time in our school with memorable, unforgettable experiences and provide opportunities that are normally out of reach – this piques their interests and passions. For example, children at Bridgelea benefit from experts in science and industry, delivering memorable experiences by STEM ambassadors visiting and delivering exciting learning opportunities.
At Bridgelea we want our children to know more, do more, and remember more. Thinking is the process that precipitates such a change, a process involving our working memory. Many of the children at Bridgelea present with working memory deficits, as part of their SEMH, and it is crucial that we understand how this impacts children’s learning and how our curriculum and its implementation can limit the impact of these difficulties. Many of our children also have attention and concentration difficulties which can be a further barrier to effective learning.
In science, we know that our children need additional opportunities to repeat the content as many times as necessary to increase their fluency in scientific understanding by the end of each milepost. As a school, we have adopted some of the Chris Quigley Essential Curriculum resources.
Fundamental foundations can’t be rushed, but in securing them, children will establish an excellent basis for progressing beyond basics towards greater depth. At Bridgelea children join at different points in their primary years, having experienced different curriculums in their previous schools. Ensuring that these foundations are secure can be a challenge. Resources from the Essential Curriculum support teachers to assess where children are in their understanding of science and to use this as the basis for their teaching.
When designing the school’s curriculum, we know that repetition of content is also important beyond fundamental foundations so that pupils:
- retain knowledge
- gain a gradual, growing understanding of key concepts over time, rather than in a fixed block of time
- re-visit the same knowledge, deepening understanding each time, through carefully planned activities that advance their understanding.
Science subject-specific abilities, which we expect the children to develop, have been reviewed and shared with all stakeholders. These abilities underpin all work in science and form a focal point for display areas and provide a common subject-specific vocabulary for staff and pupils. These characteristics are:
- To raise curiosity within the children to encourage questions and challenge scientific thinking.
- A passion for science and its application in past, present, and future technologies.
- The ability to undertake practical work in a variety of contexts, including opportunities to learn outside.
- To develop levels of originality, imagination, or innovation in the application of skills.
- The ability to think independently and raise questions about working scientifically and the knowledge and skills that it brings.
Staff are expected to teach 1 hour 30 minutes of science each week (approximately 9 hours per topic). We interweave threshold concepts so that science topics are taught and knowledge built upon twice throughout the school year. We believe that by crafting our curriculum this way, we improve the potential for our children to retain what they have been taught and to alter their long-term memory.
To support our children to use and apply their understanding of science, we make connections between science and other subject areas, creating a connected learning experience.
To further enhance our children's learning experience, we are in the process of developing an ongoing continuous provision to create a science-rich learning environment.
The assessment mileposts for each phase have been carefully mapped out and further broken down for each year group. This means that skills in science are progressive and build year on year.
At Bridgelea we believe in the fundamental foundations of our science curriculum, and understand that it is important not to rush through content and to ensure that children have a strong basic understanding of each key concept. This is even more important given our children's SEND needs. Withing each milepost children will meet each concept multiple times to secure fundamental foundations. As their understanding grows they apply these foundations in order to reach the expected standard for that Key Stage. Teachers are developing the use of PoP (Proof of Progress) tasks to help them assess secure understanding of the fundamental foundations of science.
Science and Metacognition
As a school we are currently working towards a ‘Thinking School’ accreditation. We are working hard to embed a whole school approach, resulting in a common language and framework, which enables children to talk explicitly about thinking and to understand there are different kinds of thinking. In science, we use the’ Thinking Frames’ to help children to organise their thinking. Teachers are trained to use the thinking frames to support children to create increasingly sophisticated mental models to scaffold fundamental foundations. Thinking frames are also used to support children to apply their understanding of science as their learning becomes deeper.