At Wistaston Church Lane Academy we encourage our children to INVESTIGATE like a scientist!
In the last year we have adopted a pupil-led approach to our teaching and delivery of this curriculum area. This, teamed with our school core values (Challenge, Self-Awareness, Creativity and Community), allows our children to become self-motivated learners, allowing them to be reflective, and also explore the curriculum of science. Here at our school we also encourage our children to use trial and error, and understand failure is a foundation for success, whilst giving them the building blocks to adapt and change. The ability to be self-aware and reflective whilst challenging themselves is fundamental to deeper rooted learning and inquisition allows pupils to take ownership of their learning, and become more independent problem solvers.
In EYFS science is taught through the ‘understanding the world’ and ‘characteristics of effective learning’ strands of the curriculum. Whilst it is not taught as a discrete ‘science’ lesson, children are made aware of the terminology associated with different experiments and investigations eg; when trying to free a dinosaur from a block of ice- melting, heating & change into water. Children are able to access an ‘Investigation Area’ which usually will have a science theme. This prompts the curiosity surrounding the varying topics that run through the curriculum offer here at Church Lane. The area is changed regularly to fit with children’s topics and interests, and learning journeys are updated via Tapestry and half term are shared with the science lead to ensure a broad and balanced curriculum is maintained throughout pupil’s time at our school.
At Key Stage 1 and 2, we follow the National Curriculum for Science, which has been organised into key objectives and themes for each year group. Science lessons are taught weekly in line with school policy, with a prominent focus on pupil-led investigation. Each unit (half term) comes with its own practical session, whereby children are set a challenge to investigate in mixed ability groups. This is paired with ‘theory based’ lessons too.
At Church Lane we follow a planning sequence as outlined in our ‘curriculum offer’ document. The aim of the theory lessons is to give children the building blocks for each topic, building on prior knowledge for repeating topics. By using consistent planning bases, this allows the staff to know what expectations have been, and are for each year group in relation to the topic. The planning for each year group works on the pretence that the previous year expectations have been covered and learning outcomes achieved by most children. It also allows non-teaching members of staff the ability to have confidence in the planning and delivery of science lessons when instructed by a class teacher.
There are extended writing opportunities available in our science lessons here at Church lane, which pairs well with our Writing policy where we give children the opportunity for a broad and balanced, as well as enriched curriculum. We try to allow for 1 piece of extended writing per half term, usually in line with the pupil-led investigation. Examples include: diary entries, letters, stories and non-chronological reports. Each half term, children are given a pupil-led experiment or challenge in which children are encouraged to design and execute their own investigation. They work in mixed ability groups, and take on a variety of roles such as: leader, measurer, fair test monitor and recorder as examples.
At the beginning of each topic children will complete a cold task, which allows teaching staff to gain an understanding of any prior knowledge of a topic and adapt planning accordingly. This is followed by a vocabulary lesson, that begins to build a toolkit for the children to further their learning during theory and practical based sessions. Topics are then finished with a ‘hot task’ which allows children to show off their new learning, and member of staff to identify which national curriculum objectives have been achieved by the pupils. During an experiment, a group of pupils will be observed by their teacher/TA, and observations will be recorded on the ‘Pupil Observation Record’. This was created using the theory of metacognitive learning by the science lead, and gives the teacher a universal assessment tool to be used on a range of learners. It adopts the same approach of EYFS whereby quotes from pupils can be added and also the links can be made from not only prior learning, but real world examples too. After a practical, children are usually asked to reflect on their learning outcome, perhaps suggesting improvements, commenting on the validity of their results, or suggesting an alternative method.
Children with SEND are catered for individually by class teachers, using differentiation or bespoke planning as required. This may involve pupils working on the objective via a different outcome from the lesson eg; instead of a story, they create a story board. The pupil-led sessions are great for teachers to assess children that experience difficulty transcribing their ideas in written work.
Each half term, pupils are assessed against the Pupil Observation Record. The provides teachers with a practical indication of the children’s understanding of a topic. This, teamed with the Twinkl Planit lessons, allow teachers to highlight the aims of each session in line with school policy when the aim has been successfully achieved by the pupil. If the aim has not been achieved by the pupil, this needs to be followed up to ensure the objectives of that year group are achieved before they move on through the school. In EYFS tapestry is used to assess their investigation area, giving Key stage One teachers a greater understanding during transition of pupils knowledge base before science is taught discretely.
The Science Subject Leader, alongside the SLT, will monitor the quality of teaching and learning through observations, learning walks, regular book monitoring and (in the summer term) data analysis. By assessing pupils’ attainment and progress, the Science Subject Leader and SLT will identify targets on a whole school level and work with class teachers to address any individual targets.
At Wistaston Church Lane Academy, we develop the following skills to support children in becoming scientists:
- Inquisitive learning, adapting to a range of topics and building on prior knowledge.
- Increasing their curiosity and reflection when creating experiments, adapting their plans as they go.
- The ability to ensure evaluation supports hypothesis, and prior knowledge has been used to help create their set up.
- The confidence to make errors and reflect upon these and adapt their plan and articulate why their experiment didn’t support their hypothesis.
- The ability to draw upon prior knowledge from previous year groups to develop knowledge and deepen understanding.