Science Curriculum Rationale
At West Malling CE Primary School and The McGinty Speech and Language Centre we strive to provide a high-quality science education that develops children’s understanding of the world through the scientific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. In an ever-changing world, where our children’s future jobs may not even exist yet, it is vital our children understand how science has already changed their lives and how it may shape their futures. We seek to provide children with scientific knowledge, methodologies, and processes but also to give them the real-world uses of this science. Our children are encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation through the provision of excellent learning opportunities and exciting investigations, which build on their natural curiosity.
The West Malling science curriculum is based on the Kent Primary Science Scheme of Work. This scheme provides full coverage of the primary science programme of study outlined by the National Curriculum and has clearly sequenced progression in the key scientific knowledge and concepts from year 1 through to year 6.
We plan units of work that will challenge prior knowledge in order to construct a good, new understanding of substantive knowledge. In addition to this, disciplinary knowledge is developed through the understanding of scientific methods, degrees of certainty and conducting investigations. Prior knowledge must be revisited before introducing new ideas, and misconceptions are actively diagnosed and discussed.
Knowledge refers to the theories and concepts making up science, the method of posing questions and carrying out investigations. Although there is no fixed way in which scientists work, all investigations tend to have aspects of common processes such as observation, classification, hypothesising, data collection, interpretation of data and evaluation.
Scientific knowledge should:
• be based on children’s existing concepts in science
• arouse curiosity about natural phenomena which stimulates the posing of questions about such phenomena
• be a systematic means of enabling the children to ask and attempt to answer questions arising from observations
• provide models of scientists who have contributed to the field of science
• expose students to the various strands of specialisation but which are still related
• recognise that different students experience science differently
In science, this is the knowledge produced by the academic subject. This involves concepts which form the underpinning structure of the subject, e.g. respiration, evolution and the idea of a force as well as the scientific vocabulary needed. The list of substantive knowledge for subjects is extensive and must be carefully sequenced over time.
In science, this is the knowledge needed to collect, understand and evaluate scientific evidence. It is the scientific method, i.e. changing one variable whilst keeping everything else the same – and seeing what happens. It is the ability to develop cognitive skills related to science such as acquiring scientific language, making observations, taking measurements, gathering, analysing and interpreting data, making generalisations, creating models, communicating and carrying out investigations.
We use this knowledge every day. An example of this in everyday life is your TV remote. When it stops working, first you bang it, then you wipe the sensor, finally you change the battery. Each time you change one variable (the independent variable) before measuring its effect (the dependent variable) whilst keeping everything else the same (the control variables).
Attitudes are concerned with the way in which scientific knowledge and its application are evaluated and appreciated together with an understanding of its limitations.
At West Malling, science teaching enables the children to:
• challenge the perception that science can provide absolute truth and provide a solution to all problems
• appreciate the scientific process as one way of appreciating life
• appreciate the importance of science in everyday life
• appreciate the influence of science on society
• develop a positive critical attitude towards scientific developments
• recognise the limitations of science
• be ready to engage in science and scientific methodology
• appreciate that everyone benefits from the positive results of science
If children are to have the necessary skills and capabilities to face an ever-changing future, they need to become innovative and critical thinkers. Our approach to science fosters the children’s natural curiosities whilst encouraging independent enquiry.