Intent - What do we want children to learn?
Quite simply, it is our intention that every pupil, irrelevant of needs, develops such a passion for Science that they harness their natural excitement and curiosity and in turn, this inspires them to pursue scientific enquiry. We wish that every child is excited by scientific ideas and wants to learn to explain and analyse phenomena, make predictions and solve problems.
Through Science, we aim to support this philosophy by
- investigating problems
- learning how science works
- discovering why science matters in the world
- enabling children to build up a body of key knowledge and an understanding of key scientific concepts through investigation
- enabling children to apply their scientific understanding to rationalise and explain new phenomena
- developing a sense of excitement and curiosity about science and natural phenomena
At Birchwood we know that children learn best when the curriculum is well sequenced to enable revisiting of core knowledge, skills and understanding to deepen conceptual awareness before demanding application across the whole curriculum. Please see the Science Progression of Skills documents (held in school), which outline how the key skills are developed, revisited, assessed and built upon during Year 1 to Year 6.
Birchwood’s Bespoke Curriculum
Wherever possible, we contextualise the learning experiences that we plan for our pupils in order to allow children to apply the skills taught to a real-life situation. Linked to work on ‘Animals including humans’, pupils apply knowledge of nutrition to developing a meal for our annual Suffolk Day Dish project where teams are challenged to research a dish to create for our school lunch menu. Work on materials is contextualised when the pupils are carrying out litter picks and sorting materials they find for recycling. Our school garden is a thriving micro-business. We supply the local community with fresh fruits and vegetables. Pupils use skills and knowledge of growing plants when working in the garden under the supervision of class Head Gardeners. The design and establishment of our school pond was led by the pupils. This invaluable resource is used to study animal and plant identification and is used alongside our Birchwood Flock of thirty chickens to teach the pupils about animal life cycles. We take part in the RSPB’s annual Big School’s Birdwatch. Here the children can use in context identification keys to record the number of birds visiting our school site.
Implementation - How are we going to achieve our intent?
All classes in Key Stage 1 participate in 1.5 hours per week and in Key Stage Two have dedicated Science sessions of 2 hours per week, supported by a Teaching Assistant. The units of work in science are planned so that they build upon prior learning. We ensure that there are opportunities for children of all abilities to develop their skills and knowledge in each curriculum area and we also build progression into the science scheme of work, so that the children are increasingly challenged as they move up through the school.
At Birchwood, we use a variety of teaching and learning styles in lessons. We aim to provide a balance of learning opportunities which cater for the different ways in which children learn (Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic). Effective science teaching occurs when a learner’s prior knowledge and scientific misconceptions are taken into account. This assessment of prior understanding and learning is a key component of our teaching philosophy.
We encourage the children to ask, as well as answer, scientific questions. They have the opportunity to use a variety of data, such as statistics, graphs, pictures and photographs. They use ICT in science lessons where it enhances their learning.
At Birchwood, we place a great emphasis on the value of discussion both as a means of eliciting children’s prior knowledge but also as a means of collectively constructing new information and knowledge. Pupils take part in role-play and discussions, and they present reports to the rest of the class. They engage in a wide variety of problem-solving activities. Wherever possible, we involve the pupils in real scientific activities, such as investigating how we can protect our school habitat from human changes, or carrying out a practical experiment, linked for example to our school pond, and analysing the results.
We recognise that in all classes, children have a wide range of scientific abilities. We ensure that we provide suitable learning opportunities for all children by matching the challenge of the task to the ability of the child. We achieve this in a variety of ways.
- Setting tasks that are open-ended and can have a variety of responses. This is evident in our use of our WoW curriculum which empowers the learner to respond at his/her ability level.
- Setting tasks of increasing difficulty (we do not expect all children to complete all tasks);
- Sometimes grouping children by ability and setting different tasks for each ability group;
- Using mixed-ability groupings to offer support for less able students and more responsibility to higher ability children.
- Where possible, using teaching assistants to support the work of individual children or groups of children.
Impact - What will it look like when we have achieved our intent?
There are literally hundreds of ways we can demonstrate the excellent impact our curriculum design has on our pupils. In a nutshell, here are some examples:
- We hold an annual ‘Science Celebration’ to encourage an interest in science pursuits and to encourage pupils to become fascinated by the world we live in. Past events have included a Space Dome and scientific workshops; these ranged in activity from investigating how sound is made to acting as a CSI to solve a police investigation with the use of fingerprint analysis. Children visited Adastral Park, to join the BT Innovations Team, to see and participate in ‘science in action’.
- As part of our units of work on ‘Animals, including Humans’, pupils have been involved in the incubation of chicken eggs. They watched as the chicks hatched, hand-reared them in the ‘chicken nursery’, before releasing them into our purpose-built ‘Chicken Forest’. Here the chickens live as free-range hens, providing the school with an income from egg sales and providing pupils with a great way to learn about biology, compassionate animal husbandry, food science and sustainable living practices.
The staff have worked tirelessly since Sept’18 on producing ‘Progression of skills,’ documents for every subject taught at Birchwood. From Writing to Forest School skills. These documents are kept in school and are available upon request.
For more information on how to support your child in Science, please follow the link below.