Science Curriculum Statement
Why do we teach Science?
Education as a profession is ever changing, wide reaching, progressive with a profound ability to enhance the life chances of your students as well as being supportive of colleges to improve their practice within the classroom. Studies have suggested that high quality education can have significant impacts on better own-health, child health, spousal health, infant mortality, longevity, fertility, household efficiency, asset management and happiness. When designing our curriculum intent we believe that what we do must be routed in education research. The primary purpose of educational research is to expand the existing body of knowledge by providing solutions to different problems in pedagogy while improving teaching and learning practices. Educational researchers also seek answers to questions bothering on learner-motivation, development, and classroom management.
Science education provides the foundation for a range of diverse and valuable careers that are crucial for economic, environmental and social development (Ramakrishnan, 2014). As an Academy we believe that Science is the exploration of new knowledge; encouraging curiosity and personal development. Since the Covid-19 pandemic the need for greater depth of Science knowledge and acquisition has become obvious, where people have lacked in the: analytical, social, comprehension and cognitive skills that Science provides (Burgess & Sievertsen, 2020). Science is taught to provide skills helping develop informed thoughts and ideas based around evidence; where the “ideas are driven by the science education purpose linked to the social context of its time” (Rudolph, 2019).
Within Science, there can be a tendency to concentrate on the ‘substantive knowledge’, as this is the focus of examinations. However, there are a wealth of opportunities to embellish and enrich the taught narrative through inclusion of ‘disciplinary’ knowledge, or ‘the Hinterland’ (Counsell, 2018). Ultimately within our Academy the building blocks provided to help students recontextualize information by starting at a corner of content then spiralling to develop the ideas further (Ashby, 2020). A high-quality science education is rooted in an authentic understanding of what science is (GOV.UK, 2021).
What is our curriculum intent
It is our intention to provide all children, regardless of their special needs, with a broad and balanced Science curriculum. Students should leave our Academy with skills that allow them to analyses and cultivate their own ideas based in research underpinned interdisciplinary knowledge across the curriculums (You, 2017). We encourage and value pupil opinions, ideas and contributions, and expect pupils to value and respect contributions of adults and peers (BBC, 2021). Students are encouraged be aware of the Academy’s values: wisdom, curiosity, generosity, courage and passion.
It is our ambition to ensure that students are challenged, engaged and motivated to be able to:
• Recognise success, develop confidence, gain skills and knowledge that are useful within and beyond the context of Science and open up further opportunities in further education and work. This will enable students to develop a lifelong curiosity for Science.
• Play a part in local, national and international communities and feel they can make informed choices where Science impacts on their lives. Science is about discoveries, to know if you have a real passion about science is easy: it's just a matter of curiosity. If you want to make discoveries, if you're excited by the perspective of learning new things and making discoveries.
It is our curriculum intent to provide a coherent path through the key stages to allow students to develop the knowledge and skills that will allow them to reach their full potential. This begins with a well structures KS3 curriculum leading on from what students have coved as set out in the national curriculum at KS2, whilst also providing students with both the substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge that they will need to help reach their potential at KS4. Our KS4 curriculum is designed to build on what students have studied at KS3. Our Science curriculum is based on maximising retention of knowledge through an individualised departmental designed spiral-curriculum, meeting the needs of the learners in the academies, with topics being revisited and developed each year. This allows pupils to progress through the science curriculum, new knowledge gets systematically integrated into pre-existing knowledge. This forms larger concepts and new ones, which in turn allow pupils to operate at more abstract levels (Bernstein, 1999).
Ebbinghaus explains that information is lost over time and to “recall” this information we must first “retrieve” it. He also suggested that if you have forgotten something and then retrieve it, it will stay in your memory for longer (Ebbinghaus 1885/1913). This supports the notion that retrieval practices are not just only important in improving student performance, but that several other interventions should be put into place to allow students to retrieve knowledge gradually over time through a range of interleaved activities and strategies. Built into our curriculum are a range of opportunities for students to retrieve content that students covered previously. Once completing their Science GCSEs students are given the opportunity to continue studying all 3 Sciences as well as Applied Science at KS5.
We aim to provide students with an experience that will support and enhance their progress across the whole curriculum. This will allow students access to opportunities that can inspire them. Whilst this is an area that we are currently developing we are aiming to put a number of opportunities in place. At KS5 we intend to work more closely with local universities giving students to take part in actual research and are looking at getting speakers in to help enrich the curriculum students are working through. At KS3 we have looked at developing our STEM provision. This has included giving students the opportunity to take part in a robotics workshop.
Using continuous curriculum review, the quality of our Science curriculums can be assessed to ensure that they meet the needs of our students whilst also enabling them to succeed also enabling us to evaluate and improve practice in departments access the trust as a whole. This will also play a major role when considering curriculum catch up required after the COVID pandemic (Sébastien Goudeau, 2021). As strong pedagogical knowledge and deep understanding of the subject are identified as being key factors in developing high quality education (Hattie, 2003), the development of high quality CPD that can be accessed by staff to increase their capacity, share best practice and new ideas, and to support their individual needs to allow them to flourish and reach their professional goals.
Implementation at KS3 begins with the key skills students need to develop clearly being identified within our curriculum flightpaths and substantive areas within the national curriculum being covered. All 12 units covered during KS3 have unit specific content ensuring students substantive knowledge of the unit can be assessed to enable their progress to be monitored and to help identify where improvements within the units can be made. We also factor in a range of opportunities within each unit for students to develop their practical skills (disciplinary knowledge) which can be tracked on SIMs. At both KS3 and KS4 skills (disciplinary) and knowledge (substantive) allowing students to develop and learn effectively are identified within our SOW. At KS4 each SOW also identifies the required practical’s students need to carry out, substantive knowledge interleaved in from previous units and key SMSC questions are identified.
Around 1.4 million pupils in English schools have an identified special educational (Department for Education, 2020) and within our academy XXXXXXXXX% of students have been identified as having a SEND need. As an Academy we therefore have a duty to ensure that these students have the same opportunities as non-SEND students. As an Academy we aim to have a pupil-centred approach to education in which the staff intend to understand the strengths and needs of the pupil and make tailored adaptations to the whole curriculum. In accordance with previous research that suggests that school staff should develop their understanding of each pupil with SEND to promote inclusion, we intend that our curriculums have the ability to be adapted so all students have access to the same level of both substantive and disciplinary knowledge with no ‘dumbing down’ of content. As an Academy we believe that having high expectations for pupils with SEND is an important aspect of inclusive practice for members of school staff (GOV.UK, 2022). To enable us to do this some of our aims for the adaptation of the curriculum are listed below:
• Student lesson notes for most lessons to be made available to each class via team (Students with visual impairments can enlarge to fit their needs)
• Unit lesson SEND adaptation to be produced (initially at KS3 then effectiveness reviewed before starting with KS4)
• KS3 unit test adaptation taking into account of SEND needs
• Specific SEND training sessions to be delivered during department time
• Teaching assistances to be invited to specific Science CPD
• Instruction videos on key tasks within lessons that students can refer back to
We use curriculum reviews to evaluate and improve practice in the department. Using continuous curriculum review, the quality of our science curriculums can be assessed to ensure that they meet the needs of our students whilst also enabling them to succeed also enabling us to evaluate our curriculum. This also plays a major role when considering curriculum catch up required after the COVID pandemic (Sébastien Goudeau, 2021).
As a department we play an active part in academy initiatives to engage with new ideas and best practice and make effective use of CPD to identify and share best practice and new ideas. As strong pedagogical knowledge and deep understanding of the subject are identified as being key factors in developing high quality education (Hattie, 2003), the development of high quality CPD that can be accessed by staff to increase their capacity, share best practice and new ideas, and to support their individual needs to allow them to flourish and reach their professional goals enabling better implementation of our curriculum.
The Academy encourages the development of our students cultural and scientific capital by providing not only high impact but engaging lessons (Jennifer A. Schmidt, 2017). Thus, instilling and providing generous enrichment to support the Science intent. This sparks their curiosity of how Science has contributed to society and shaped the world in which they live, as well as promoting many important and transferrable skills; aiding progress in other subjects and when they move onto their careers or further education. We aim for students to become experts in Science as apposed to novices. Experts differ from novices not only in the extent of their domain-specific knowledge (either Biology, Chemistry or Physics), but also in how this knowledge is organised in their memory (RJ Shavelson, 2005). Finally as an Academy we believe wisdom is the end goal to our curriculum intent: As said by the British philosopher Nicholas Maxwell has called wisdom "the capacity to realize what is of value in life for oneself and others." (Maxwell, 2007)
The focus on the curriculum is designed to improve the quality of education for all students. Each unit of work has a specific SMSC focus aiding in the personal development and well-being of all students. We aim to provide opportunities of all students to reach their personal goals and full potential. As a department we provide students the opportunity to attend a Science club, for high ability students we offer students the opportunity to take separate Science exams and at KS5 students are offered pathways which will allow them to take Science at university. Cultural, economic and societal capital of students enabling them to become citizens of the world is also factored into what we do.