- The New Curriculum: Key Stages 1-2 science
- The new National Curriculum, which began implementation in September 2014, features a number of key changes. There will be a greater focus on experimentation with the addition of 'Working scientifically', which aims to develop pupils' understanding of the process of scientific enquiry. In KS2, evolution will be taught for the first time and pupils will be introduced to the systems of the human body, including the circulatory and the digestive systems. Physics has been removed entirely from KS1 and instead is featured heavily in KS2 with the addition of subjects such as the properties of sound and movement of objects in the Solar System.
Below are outlined all the major changes to the primary school science curriculum.
- Evolution to be taught in KS2
- For the first time, primary school students will be taught about the origins of life in the Year 6 ‘Evolution and Inheritance’ Pupils learn how fossils record the changes that living things undergo over millions of years. They discover that living things produce offspring which share characteristics with their parents. Pupils learn that through the process of evolution, many animals and plants have developed characteristics to help them survive in their habitats.
- Greater range of investigative activities
- Investigative activities are included in the non-statutory requirements of most modules within the primary curriculum. Examples of this include the use of magnifying glasses to look at plants in Year 1 and exploring different kinds of rocks and soils in the local environment in Year 3.
- The new programme includes the introduction of 'Working scientifically'. This is integrated with all topics in all Key Stages. ‘Working scientifically’promotes a range of skills such as asking scientific questions, the ability to compare and contrast and using simple measuring equipment.
- No Physics until KS 2
- 'Physical processes' has been removed from KS1 and split into six separate topics which are taught rigorously with additions in material including behaviour of light, properties of sound and movement of the planets.
- In Year 3, pupils learn in more depth about light, reflection and shadows. In 'Forces and Magnets', the difference between contact and non-contact forces is taught. In Year 4, pupils are taught that sound is caused by vibrations, and how the properties of sound can change. In ‘Electricity’ pupils experiment with simple circuits.
- In Year 5, pupils become more familiar with forces and are expected to learn about mechanisms (gears, pulleys and levers), a completely new subject. In Year 6, students learn how light travels in straight lines. Understanding of electrical circuits is developed and pupils learn to draw technical circuit diagrams. The movement of all major bodies in the solar system is studied for the first time.
- 'Life processes and living things' has been expanded
- There are now three separate units introducing students to biology: 'animals including humans', 'plants' and 'living things and their habitats'. There is a greater emphasis on recognition of plant and animal species.
- Year 1 pupils are expected to identify and name a variety of different plants, as well as describe the basic structure of a flowering plant. They should learn to classify some animals by class, such as amphibian, bird or reptile. Year 2 pupils are expected to understand growth in plants and animals and be able to identify a range of living things in their habitats.
- Year 4 students are taught about how habitats can change, including learning about how humans can change habitats. Simple food chains are introduced. In Year 5, pupils learn about the different life cycles (including reproduction) of animals and other types of animal. Year 6 pupils should be able to classify living things by considering their characteristics.
- Introducing the seasons in KS1
- In 'Seasonal changes', Year 1 pupils are expected to observe how weather and day length varies depending upon the time of year, as well as learning about differences between the four seasons.
- ‘Materials and their properties’ has been split up
- This subject is now composed of ‘Everyday materials’ and ‘Uses of everyday materials’.
- In KS1, pupils learn to identify and describe some basic materials and their uses. In KS2 pupils learn about changes in materials, including phase changes. For the first time, sublimation will be taught along with the basic phase changes.
- Basic physiology in KS2
- In KS2, expect to see more focus on learning the systems of the human body. Learning about staying healthy replaces material which focused on how to treat other humans and caring for animals.
- Year 3 pupils learn about the muscular-skeletal system and how it allows for movement. Students learn about nutrition in animals, including humans. Year 4 pupils are introduced to the main body parts associated with the digestive system such as the mouth, tongue, teeth, oesophagus, stomach and small and large intestine. Year 5 pupils learn about human ageing, including the changes that occur during puberty. Year 6 pupils are taught to identify and name the main parts of the human circulatory system, and describe the functions of the heart, blood vessels and blood. The effects of different lifestyles on the human body is studied. Transport of nutrients and water is introduced.
At St Mary’s, we recognise that science is important because as a body of knowledge, it helps us to understand the world that we live in. The skills and knowledge of science can be applied widely in everyday life and, crucially, science methodology forms the basis of sound intellectual enquiry.
Science is a very practical subject which develops a spirit of enquiry built through the experimental testing of ideas which encourages and develops a child's natural curiosity.
Our aims in teaching science at St Mary’s are that all children will:
- have the opportunity to stimulate and excite their curiosity about phenomena and events in the world around them and to satisfy this curiosity with knowledge
- retain and develop their natural sense of curiosity about the world around them
- develop a set of attitudes which will promote scientific ways of thinking, including open-endedness, perseverance, objectivity and a recognition of the importance of teamwork
- be able to ask and answer scientific questions
- know appropriate scientific vocabulary
- be able to communicate and relate science to everyday life, developing these experiences through scientific investigations
- understand health and safety issues relating to science (e.g. electricity, cigarettes, sugar, and tooth decay and healthy eating)
We use a variety of teaching and learning styles in science lessons. Our principal aim is to develop children’s knowledge, skills, and understanding. Sometimes we do this through whole-class teaching, while at other times we engage the children in an enquiry-based research activity. We encourage the children to ask, as well as answer, scientific questions.
Science is taught as part of topic work or as a discrete subject, depending on the age group or topic covered. The school grounds and local area provide a rich variety of opportunities for the teaching of science and visits are often used to enrich the science curriculum.
Enjoyable scientific experiences foster confidence, encourage the ability to ask questions and help children absorb the knowledge and skills associated with scientific methods of investigation. Through their powers of observation, prediction, investigation and by interpreting their results. children can, in collaboration with others, develop their knowledge about the world in which they live.