The intention of Bonner Primary School’s science curriculum is not just to teach the National Curriculum but to awaken our children’s natural curiosity in science and to build up their ‘science capital’ so that they can succeed in science at secondary school and beyond.
The national curriculum purpose of study
A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.
The national curriculum for science aims to ensure that all pupils:
- develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics;
- develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them; and
- are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.
How we teach science
We take great pride in our science teaching at Bonner Primary School and we secured the gold level Primary Science Quality Mark.
The school clearly places a high value on science and is providing an excellent experience for its children. A clear and thoughtful science policy, together with the school’s principles, seems to have helped create a shared ethos and is helping to drive the subject forward. A range of creative teaching and learning approaches is evident, as is an excellent programme of enrichment.
PSQM Awarding Body
We have always had a strong focus on science investigation because we believe that children should develop the practical science (and general problem solving) skills which this teaches. This is supported by making those vital cross-curriculum links with our topic work and literacy to give context to our children’s studies. This includes, for example, the study of famous scientists, drama and relevant stories. Our aim is to awaken the natural curiosity in our children so that they start to ask questions and help them to make sense of the world around them.
To support our teaching, we use the ‘Switched on Science’ scheme of work and we continuously invest in new resources, such as fossils and electronic microscopes.
Teachers use concept cartoons, dressing up and even puppets to support children in their learning and correct any misconceptions.
Due to our urban setting we value and promote outside learning through our new outside learning area and garden, trips to museums and our local outside learning centre (The Soanes Centre).
Recently, children have really enjoyed making recipes and eating food which they had grown themselves!
Enrichment and Trips
To support our science curriculum and to help create a sense of wonder, Bonner Primary School holds frequent science weeks for all children with the single aim of getting children excited about science. This year the children were particularly enthusiastic to meet our special visitors, including five owls.
Furthermore, we have had highly successful, and popular, enrichment activities, including:
- making volcanoes;
- testing carrier bags;
- making and launching rockets;
- developing tree crystals;
- building parachutes for eggs;
- making raisins dance
- creating a worm farm; and
- clearing up an oil slick.
In addition, some of our children have enjoyed spending the night in the science museum and we have even held our own residential space camp!
To further support the learning of our very able scientists, we also take part in competitions, such as the Forest School science competition. We were very pleased to win the best teamwork award.
We are very aware of our urban school setting and as a result our reception classes actively participate in Forest School outdoor learning. The Forest School ethos dates back to the 1800s when educationalist theorists, including Montessori and Piaget, first advocated the benefits of learning in the natural environment. Every session starts with the building of a base camp for safety and then children participate in various activities to enhance their communication, become healthier, nurture their self-esteem and to love and respect the outdoors.
Clean Air and the Environment
We are a gold level ‘Rights Respecting School’ and our science curriculum supports this:
Article 24 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
“Every child has the right to the best possible health. Governments must provide good quality health care, clean water, nutritious food, and a clean environment and education on health and well-being so that children can stay healthy.”
Our school has been heavily involved in campaign work to reduce air pollution and we have developed strong cross-curricular links between science, PSHE and our work as a UNICEF Rights Respecting School.
The Mayor, John Biggs, has visited our school to discuss air pollution and some of our children have returned the visit by going to the town hall. Working with the PTA, ‘Friends of Bonner’, our children have also helped lead an anti-idling campaign to encourage the local community to not idle their engines.
As a result, some of our children were invited to be on posters for a borough wide campaign, present speeches at a clean air event run by City Hall and trial new technology, such as pollution monitoring coats.
Links with the wider science community
We have a strong relationship with the Institute of Education and we are proud to support the development of new teachers by inviting student teachers in to observe our science lessons and speak to our children. Excitingly, we have even helped the Institute of Education and Times Educational Supplement (TES) develop training materials and videos to support teachers nationwide as they grapple with the challenge of training and improving the confidence of new teachers. This has included our lessons being filmed and our children and staff being interviewed. In addition, our staff have taken part in focus groups to support the Wellcome Trust in developing new science resources, helped to develop science SATs papers with the NFER and SQA, and we have had an article published in the Association for Science Education journal.
Progress and assessment
When starting a new science unit, the class teacher assesses what the children know already and what they want to know using formative assessment strategies. This is then repeated at the end of the topic to understand what the children have learnt. The science coordinator also interviews groups of children to assess their progress over the year and monitors the work in books. In addition, year 6 children complete standardised science tests produced by the NFER to help us understand trends in progress and to provide additional assurance that the curriculum is being covered in its entirety.
Documents that we find interesting
Please click on any of these publications to read them. We have found them particularly interesting and they have informed our curriculum planning:
- Principles and Big Ideas of Science Education by Wynne Harlen
- ‘State of the nation’ report of UK primary science education by the Wellcome Trust
- ASPIRES: Young people’s science and career aspirations, age 10 –14 by Louise Archer et al.
- Maintaining curiosity: A survey into science education in schools by Ofsted
Science capital (The source of the following is the UCL Institute of Education website)
Deriving from the sociology of Pierre Bourdieu, the idea of science capital was developed by Professor Louise Archer and colleagues as a conceptual device to capture an individual's science-related resources and dispositions.
Science capital is a concept that can help us understand patterns in science participation - why some people engage with science and others do not.
In particular, it helps shed light on why particular social groups remain underrepresented in post-16 science, and why many young people do not see science careers as being 'for me', nor see themselves as a 'science person'.
The concept of science capital can be imagined like a 'holdall', or bag, containing all the science-related knowledge, attitudes, experiences and resources that you acquire through life. It includes what science you know, how you think about science (your attitudes and dispositions), who you know (e.g. if your parents are very interested in science) and what sort of everyday engagement you have with science.
At Bonner Primary School, we monitor our children’s attitudes to science through focus groups of children and questionnaires like this one. As a result, our curriculum includes a diverse range of scientists to inspire all of our children and we make sure that scientists are never seen as ‘wacky’ or ‘mad’ because this can be off-putting. We also engage parents through our biennial ‘Open Doors’ science event.
Horner’s Livery Company have been very supportive in helping to organise the evenings and we discuss possible science careers with the aim of showing that science is an important career route that can be pursued by any of our children.
Our science coordinator is currently undertaking PhD research with the University of Birmingham in year 4 science classes. The topic is: ‘Using interleaving as a teaching and learning strategy in primary school science’.
Interleaving is a teaching and learning strategy that involves changing the order of the science curriculum from blocks of the same topic to learning a different aspect of science each week. There is already research to suggest that this method improves longer term recall of knowledge and skills in maths, some sports like baseball and in learning about different artists. This is because the learner has to remember more than one topic at once and make links between the topics.
If you would like to find out more about this research, please get in touch and we will send you an information leaflet.