Head of Faculty - Mrs S Baxter
Curriculum Intent, Implementation and Impact in Science
Introduction to subject
The Science Faculty at St Martin’s is committed to making science interesting and relevant to all pupils.
At Key Stage 3 we offer a modern, practical based curriculum which follows the national curriculum. The course prepares students for their end of Key Stage Assessment.
At Key Stage 4 we follow the AQA GCSE exam board Double Science or Separate Science course. Students studying the Combined Science course will gain two GCSEs. Those studying the Separate Science course will gain three GCSEs in biology, chemistry and physics.
At Key Stage 5 we offer A-levels in each of the three sciences and follow the OCR exam board. These courses are designed to encourage a deeper understanding of the sciences. Many students who study these courses go on to study science related courses at University.
Why is the study of Science important?
‘Science’ comes from the Latin ‘scientia’, meaning knowledge or experience. Studying science allows us to develop our understanding of the world around us, both through observation and investigation. This understanding allows students a greater appreciation of the natural world and enables them to make informed choices.
From year 7 our students develop the ability to hypothesize and test those hypotheses through experimentation. Students become confident in using a wide scientific vocabulary, and in communicating their ideas clearly and concisely. Skills students use in Maths are employed in science, and our students have many opportunities to present and interpret data.
By carrying out and planning experiments students develop their team working skills. Studying contemporary ethical issues allows students to become more empathetic individuals. Tricky concepts require our students to be resilient learners.
How does the study of Science develop your skills, knowledge and understanding?
- Ask questions or hypothesise
- Planning or following scientific methods
- Present, analyse and interpret data to draw conclusions
- Review and evaluate results to identify limitations and improvements
Develop a deeper understanding of a range of scientific ideas in the subject disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Students should begin to see the connections between these subject areas and become aware of some of the big ideas underpinning scientific knowledge and understanding.
Students should understand that science is about working objectively, modifying explanations to take account of new evidence and ideas and subjecting results to peer review. They should be encouraged to relate scientific explanations to phenomena in the world around them and start to use modelling and abstract ideas to develop and evaluate explanations.
How are students assessed in Science?
Students experience a wide range of new topics and skills at KS3. These skills are then developed in terms of complexity and application at KS4 and KS5. Each topic in all three key stages are assessed in 1 hour assessments once the topic has been taught. These assessments follow a pathway whereby the content and structure become increasingly more developed and specialised over the years.
Our assessments are designed following the relevant specifications (how science works KS3, AQA KS4 or OCR KS5) to include all key content and to expose students to the multiple types of questions. The aim of these assessments is to prepare students for their final GCSE and A-level exams so that they are equipped to deal with the structure and content that they will be faced with.
Aside from preparing our students for their GCSE and A-levels by exposing them to relevant structure and content of assessments, we also aim to prepare them for life beyond this. Our assessments incorporate practical skills and content which allows them to explain the scientific world around them and more importantly ensure they are equipped with the skills to problem solve and critically evaluate the ‘big’ moral questions.
How does Science support learning in other areas of the curriculum?
Science, and the skills developed within the subject, links to many other areas of the curriculum. Mathematical skills, analysis of data and trends, as well as construction of evaluative statements on ethical debates such as Stem Cells and use of Scientific Technology will enhance learning in many other subject areas.
The subject knowledge within Science can link to a range of other curriculum areas:
- Biology shows strong links with subjects such as Psychology and the functioning of the nervous system, Sport and Physical Education in relation to the human body, organ systems and factors affecting performance and Food and Nutrition in which macro and micro-molecules are discussed.
- Chemistry and the study of the Earth and its natural resources links strongly to subject areas such as Geography in the study of rocks and carbon cycling, global warming and human impact on the environment.
- Physics has strong mathematical links, using formulae and equations, as well as linking to History in the developments made by Scientists in their understanding of the atom and radioactivity. Links can also be made to Digital Literacy and the use of technology to support data analysis and data logging.
Throughout the study of Science, practical skills are developed through in class activities and required practical tasks. These develop a student’s ability to plan, record data and analyse results; skills which are widely applicable to other subject areas. Practical work also ensures that team work, resilience and versatility are at the forefront of Science lessons; applying theoretical knowledge to practical examples.
How can students extend and deepen their knowledge in Science?
Within the lower school students have the opportunity to participate in our KS3 Science club to widen their understanding of Science and undertake practical activities to develop those covered within lessons. Competitions and STEM activities run by external agencies such as the CSES Competition and the Big Bang Competition are opportunities for students to engage with.
Throughout their time at St Martin’s, students are supported with intervention and revision support sessions to further their understanding of Science and develop their exam application, as well as understanding of the core practical's and practical skills needed for success in Science. Students can also extend their understanding through use of resources offered such as the GCSE Pod, Kerboodle and Seneca Learning. We also offer students the opportunity to hear from external speakers to broaden their appreciation of the role of Science within careers and society.
At A-level we strongly encourage students to develop their learning beyond the curriculum with our Departmental SharePoint pages directing students to a range of news articles, wider reading materials and consolidation work, as well as super-curricular opportunities such as free OpenLearn courses offered by the Open University to further extend their learning. Many sixth form students also choose to undertake Extended Project Qualifications in Science disciplines, supported by Science staff, to research further into areas of particular interest to them.
How does Science link to the world of work?
Science offers students a variety of skills to help them achieve to the best of their abilities, alongside providing a basis for further study and employment reliant on strong analytical, data interpretation and evaluative skills. Science is also highly regarded as a qualification for those wishing to enter careers in business and finance as the analytical and problem-solving skills developed are much sought after by employers.
The study of Biology and Chemistry often links to later career aspirations for Medicine and Pharmacy alongside Life and Veterinary Sciences, as well as providing a basis for further study and employment reliant on strong analytical, data interpretation and evaluative skills. Physics is a gateway to a wide range of careers including those using Core Physics, Engineering, Mathematics, Economics, Architecture, Astronomy, Geophysics and Medical Physics.
How does Science link to the three strands of our core values?
Learning for the Future
Outstanding Personal Achievement
Students are always polite, considerate, and respectful during all aspects of their lessons, including practical work, team work and independent study.
Students are punctual to lessons and all lessons are well attended.
Within science lessons, schemes of work show the value of work from a diverse range of scientists and to promote diversity and equality. For example, we teach a series of lessons in KS3 called Diversity in STEM, where scientists such as Kusala Rajendran and Mae Jemison are discussed and their contribution to science are learnt about.
Students take pride in their presentation, work is well presented, and scientific diagrams, table and graphs are always drawn using sharp pencils and rulers.
Students take personal responsibility for their learning by selecting appropriate levelled work when given choices within lessons and for homework. For example; personalised DIRT feedback, follow up exam progress tasks.
Students reflect on their personal feedback and are honest in setting targets to move their understanding forward.
Students treat all scientific equipment with respect and learn to use each.
Students are engaged with lessons and extracurricular activities (eg. science club), trips (eg. Zoo and the Royal Society Summer Exhibition Talk), developing a love of learning Science.
Students are scientifically literate. They can read and discuss 'science in the news' and make informed choices.
Students are able to communicate scientifically by displaying data clearly, using equations, annotating scientific diagrams and using sources of information to support their arguments.
Students show resilience through completing ever more difficult applications of their understanding. Students understand the importance of repetition and retrieval practice.
Students can use a wide range of digital and technical equipment to support their studies and to communicate ideas (eg. data loggers and computer software).
Students understand the opportunities that a GCSE and post 16 in a Science subject can present. Students are ambitious and many are keen to study a Science related subject beyond 6th form.
Students are constantly striving to do be the best they can be in Science. They are determined to progress in all aspects of their study and achieve the best grade possible. Student attendance to afterschool sessions, including Science Intervention is consistently high, and offered to all students from Yr9 to Yr11.
Students feel confident to apply their knowledge to a wide variety of abstract situations, showing versatility including beyond the curriculum. This may be through research tasks, projects, introducing GCSE & application questions into KS3, scientific EPQ essays.
Students are able to demonstrate independence and self-management when provided with opportunities to work towards their personal targets and feedback.
High motivation and enjoyment levels when studying science encouraged by increasing the cultural capital opportunities e.g. school visits, clubs (including the opportunity to achieve the crest awards) and reading (eg. Through application on articles in KS5).
High levels of academic rigour through the introduction of flipped learning, academic reading and lectures.
Students develop their cultural capital with British values embedded and highlighted within the curriculum, eg. Ethics in biology, origins of the universe comparing of models & theories.
The science department follows the national curriculum and the exam board specifications at KS4 and KS5. The key learning priorities of shared learning intentions, retrieval practice and effective assessment are embedded in our schemes of work to ensure we provide the very best learning opportunities for our students.
Shared Learning Intentions: The science curriculum has been carefully planned and sequenced to cover the National Curriculum. It builds on prior knowledge gained at KS2 and introduces new concepts and skills in all the sciences. The curriculum is designed to engage and enthuse students about science and its importance in everyday life.
Retrieval Practice: The science team sequences knowledge through retrieval practice including the use of starters for memory recall in every lesson. By using constant revisiting of key ideas and concepts students can retain more information and form a deeper understanding. Questioning of students verbally allows further development of the knowledge required and consolidation of their understanding. The use of retrieval practice throughout the lesson also allows for any misconceptions to be identified and corrected.
Effective Assessment: In science, assessments evaluate how well we are able to deliver the curriculum and how effectively individual students have mastered that body of learning. The aim for assessment in the science department is simple; we want to identify gaps, bridge gaps and then check to see whether the gap in learning has been closed. All assessment tasks are designed with clear success criteria: consequently, teachers can readily determine whether individual students or groups of students have misconceptions or require further practice to develop their skills.
Effective questioning is used throughout lessons to help teachers to check students’ understanding. ‘No hands up’ rule is used regularly to make sure all students are involved in discussions. Discussion work in pairs or groups is sometimes used also.
In years 7 and 8 students are assessed on a half termly basis – these assessments are followed with DIRT activities where students reflect on their strengths and weaknesses. Topics for students to work on are therefore clearly identified and resources are made available for students to access to address their weaknesses.
In year 9 - 11 students are assessed at the end of each unit that is taught; the assessments are created using actual GCSE questions so that students can get used to applying knowledge as well as practising exam skills. These assessments are followed up by a DIRT activity which highlights weaknesses in the topic just covered. Resources are available for students to reflect on their strengths and revisit those areas they did least well on.
In year 12/13 students are assessed at the end of each topic using a range of questions from past exam papers. This allows them to apply the knowledge learnt to different scenarios.
Teachers’ Subject Knowledge: The Science Faculty is made up of well qualified Biology, Chemistry and Physics specialists all of whom use a wide range of pedagogical methods to engage and inspire students. Teachers are encouraged to identify their expertise across the sciences and use this to support colleagues in the department.
Teachers have a shared, clear understanding of schemes of work and how they inter-relate. They know the concepts that students have already been taught. They consider connections at the point of planning and use these to reemphasise key learning and affect long-term memory.
Personal Development in Curriculum Implementation: The science curriculum identifies the different elements of THRIVE and actively encourages students to use these core skills to be successful in science. Relationships are crucial to teaching and learning: modelling of respect in lessons (how we speak and listen), enables all learners to make progress. As part of the science curriculum students learn about different beliefs and values. For example, with evolution, we teach students that there are different views, but all views must be respected. In science we teach about global topics including climate change and how the understanding of science is important for everyone's future.
We believe that our students experience an exceptionally well-planned curriculum in science and as a result acquire the skills and knowledge, they need to be successful in the next stage of their lives. They leave us well-rounded individuals who have an understanding of science and its impacts in the world around us. Students enjoy science and a sizeable percentage opt to study the separate sciences at GCSE. Many students stay on to study A-levels in Biology, Chemistry and Physics and a considerable proportion of these then continue to study sciences and related subjects such as medicine, dentistry and veterinary science at University.
Our curriculum is enhanced through a range of extra-curricular activities. These are designed to further develop students’ understanding of science and its impacts in the world, as well as enriching their cultural capital, British values and SMSC development. At St Martin’s we run an extremely popular science club at KS3, where students get to experience more practical activities and have the opportunity to take part in educational visits, such as a yearly trip to Colchester Zoo. At KS4 and KS5 students can attend weekly after school sessions to enhance their progress and understanding.