Science at Whitehouse Primary
Science teaching at Whitehouse Primary School aims to give all children a strong understanding of the world around them whilst acquiring specific skills and knowledge to help them to think scientifically, to gain an understanding of scientific processes and an understanding of the uses and implications of Science today and in the future. Our aim is for our children to develop scientific enquiry skills and have a firm understanding of all topics covered within the curriculum.
Scientific enquiry skills are embedded in each topic the children study and these topics are revisited and developed throughout their time at school. Topics, such as Plants, are taught in Foundation Stage, Key Stage One and studied again in further detail throughout Key Stage Two. This model allows children to build upon their prior knowledge and increases their enthusiasm for the topics whilst embedding this procedural knowledge into the long-term memory. Planning is centred on the National Curriculum programmes of study, but also takes into account children’s interests and fascinations and makes links to themes and topics in other subjects.
Early Years Foundation Stage
Within the Early Years Foundation Stage, there are seven areas of learning where the theme of investigation and talking about what can be discovered run throughout, the children are encouraged to investigate what they have seen/discovered. Specifically pupils work through objectives within the ‘Understanding the world’ area of learning where they learn to explore and look after their environment. Through health and self-care, the pupils also learn how to look after themselves, eat healthy and stay safe.
Key Stage 1
The children are encouraged to develop their own appreciation of scientific ideas by answering their own questions, observing changes over time, grouping and classifying things and carrying out simple tests. Children are encouraged to be curious and ask questions about what they notice. The children are encouraged to begin to use scientific language to talk about what they have found. Within key stage one, learning about science is through the use of first-hand practical experiences supported by appropriate secondary sources.
Key Stage 2
The principal focus of Science teaching in Key Stage 2 is to enable pupils to broaden their scientific view of the world around them and to develop a deeper understanding of the scientific skills needed. Within Key Stage 2, children are encouraged to design their own investigations, they should ask their own questions about what they observe and then select the most appropriate ways to answer these questions. Children are also encouraged to use scientific vocabulary; firstly to discuss what they have discovered and then later to write about what they have found out.
As part of an Eco-Schools focus, children are encouraged to be aware of their own immediate environments and the wider world around them. They learn how to take ownership and responsibility of their local area, both in and out of school and develop thoughts, ideas and beliefs centred on the Eco-Schools themes and topics such as recycling and sustainability. This also offers the opportunity to reflect on their everyday practises and consider the impact that their actions have on their own world and the wider world around them.
Ultimately, at Whitehouse, we aim to ensure that the children develop a sense of passion and commitment to science, showing strong application and enthusiasm to learn more through scientific enquiry, investigation and study. Fundamentally, we want to ensure that our children are encouraged to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity when undertaking scientific enquiry and investigations.
Teachers follow a cycle of lessons for each area of science, which carefully plans for progression and depth and delivered using a range of creative approaches including making use of the school’s outdoor environment and local area. (Staff have been provided with CPD to support this).
Most of the science themes in the Foundation Stage are taught through a book for example learning about the lifecycle of a butterfly through the book ‘The very hungry caterpillar’. Child initiated learning is also key, and themes may vary based upon children’s interests.
In Key Stage 1, Science is taught once each week. Where possible meaningful links are made to the current class project and cross-curricular links are made with other subjects.
In Key Stage 2, Science is taught one lesson per week (often for a full afternoon) allowing greater depth of learning and more time for scientific investigation. Where possible, cross-curricular links are made and also links are made to the classes’ current project, where appropriate.
All children are encouraged to develop and use a range of skills including observations, planning and investigations, as well as being encouraged to question the world around them and become independent learners in exploring possible answers for their scientific based questions.
Teachers are given the opportunity to work together in subject working parties to develop a bespoke curriculum that meets the needs of all of our pupils. Teaching staff have participated in a series of training sessions with an experienced Scientist, who introduced several useful resources and methods, which have been implemented in the classroom, such as key vocabulary word banks for each year group and topic.
Children who are more able and talented in Science are given the opportunity to extend and enhance their learning by participating in after school clubs with a specialist science teacher. They develop their knowledge of self-chosen aspects of science through experimentation and investigation, concluding in a science fair event for Parents and carers. Children may also have the opportunity to work with pupils from other local schools in themed challenge days.
During their time at Whitehouse, all children in school participate in an educational visit, which links specifically to the Science curriculum. For example, in Reception, children visit a local woodland park and look at animal habitats and life cycles through activities such as pond dipping and year 5 children visited ‘The Life Centre’ to enrich their learning about properties and changes of materials and living things and habitats.
The whole school participates in a dedicated ‘Science Week’ every academic year, which allows children to develop their own ideas over a longer period of time. This often links to our S.T.E.A.M learning, as do our half-termly themed whole-school challenge days.
At playtimes and lunch times, children are given the opportunity to freely explore and investigate within the schools’ outdoor environment and have access to a range of resources to support their enquiries. For example, children may choose to use magnifying glasses to search for insects and then identify them using a classification wheel.
We have an elected Eco-council who are responsible for identifying areas for development and implementing changes within school. They meet on a regular basis, sharing the ideas and opinions of their peers and feeding back next steps to each class.
Children are continuously developing an interest and enthusiasm for Science across school and are keen to participate in a wide range of events both during school time and after school. They willingly volunteer to represent the school at science events and are proud to share their knowledge and understanding with others. This has had a significant impact upon children’s confidence in their science subject knowledge.
Children at Whitehouse are self-motivated learners and are gaining a conceptual understanding of all aspects of the science curriculum. Children learn the skills needed to work like a scientist because their teachers are confident practitioners who deliver an enquiry-rich curriculum with access to appropriate resources.