Science

In the science department, our curriculum is built on 3 pillars:

1.       That knowledge is important to all thinking in science.

2.       That we understand new things in relation to what we already know.

3.       That retrieving knowledge helps us to remember it for longer.

Overview

Science (from the Latin word scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

The science curriculum for the students Ash Hill Academy has been designed to provide students with a deep understanding of the scientific knowledge and ideas that impact them as individuals within a local and globalised context. As they move through the curriculum, students will be increasingly made to develop their curiosity, provide insight into working scientifically and appreciate the value of science in their everyday lives. Our curriculum provides a platform for more advanced science based study, providing a gateway into a wide range of career opportunities. It also delivers a framework for understanding the natural world and supporting students to become scientifically literate participants in society.

After consideration of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) report ‘Improving Secondary Science’ in 2018 and recent research developments in science curriculum design, a full review of the curriculum was undertaken, establishing a number of key principles.

E.D. Hirsch argues “only a well-rounded, knowledge-specific curriculum can impart needed knowledge to all children and overcome inequality of opportunity”. This is something supported by the Department for Education (DfE) who write that the curriculum should emphasise that knowledge should be something “to be remembered and constantly built upon, not merely encountered and fleetingly experienced” (DfE, 2018: 5). 

The key principles used when designing the new curriculum were:

  • To develop a knowledge rich curriculum, supported by high quality teacher instruction, collaborative learning and the opportunity for students to demonstrate understanding.
  • Effective use of models to explain concepts and critical evaluation of these models.
  • Development, understanding and use of scientific language and commonalities in language between other curriculum areas.
  • The sequence of learning, including prior knowledge and next steps.
  • Retrieval of information over time.
  • Reduction of a topic/end of term test, more frequent ‘low stakes’ checkpoints that feedback in to classroom planning.
  • Links to other subjects as well as local and social context.

The intent was to create an overarching narrative for our curriculum strands. The rationale was to allow students to understand ‘what they are learning, why they are learning this now, what does this build on and where does it lead’. This curriculum narrative was the basis to our 11 strand approach:

Willingham wrote ‘The human mind seems exquisitely tuned to understand and remember stories – so much so that psychologists sometimes to refer to stories as ‘psychologically privileged’, in that stories are treated differently in the memory compared with other types of material’ (2018).

Myatt identifies three necessary stages in producing successful student outcomes through cognitive science: ‘we need to find the stories in the curriculum, we need to think about how we ensure that information moves from the short-term into the long-term memory and we need to provide opportunities for pupils to revisit the key concepts’ (2018).

Intent

Key Stage 3

Students follow content according to the National Curriculum for science using a clear strand-based approach, which reviews and builds on the understanding from KS2. Practical skills are modelled for students with opportunities for students to develop the skills of enquiry and working scientifically.

During Key Stage 3 students will also have the opportunity to experience areas of science beyond the National Curriculum; these have links to science locally and possible careers.

Key Stage 4

Students experience a wide range of new topics and skills at KS4 whilst following the AQA Trilogy or Triple science specifications. Each topic strand is linked intrinsically to prior knowledge and skills from KS3 and builds in terms of complexity, skills and application. Our aim is that all students should leave Ash Hill Academy being able to understand and explain the scientific world around them and more importantly are equipped with the skills to problem solve and critically evaluate the ‘big’ moral questions. 

Assessment of students’ understanding of the curriculum is constant and low stake. This is done through multiple-choice checkpoints and demonstrate tasks. The aim of this assessment is to feed directly into planning so that lessons are personalised to meet the needs of all students.

PedagogyEnrichmentOther general principles

Our pedagogy is underpinned by:

  • Strand-based approach to teaching, allowing students to revisit content and deepen their knowledge.
  • Clear modelling of scientific concepts and high quality teacher instruction.
  • Demonstrate and connect marking which informs planning and addresses misconceptions.
  • Trust wide assessments and timely bespoke curriculum support sessions.
  • Using errors as a learning opportunity and building resilience.

We will enrich our curriculum by:

  • Extended tasks outside of academy, research projects, science clubs, visits to local and national sites of scientific interest.
  • Encouraging students to become eco-students using the curriculum as a mechanism to enhance awareness of local and global issues.
  • Continue to develop inter-academy STEM links and STEM clubs.
  • Continue to build on existing cross-curricular links.
  • Complete bespoke short POS in areas of interest.

Our curriculum will enable students to:

  • Learn within a coherent and progressive, strand-based approach allowing students to revisit and move at a more personalised rate.
  • Develop new skills through a variety of interesting contexts to ensure engagement.
  • Develop a wide range of practical skills, deepen skills of enquiry.
  • Improve their social and moral understanding of the world and be able to form reasoned opinions around ‘big’ scientific questions.

Key Staff

  • Director of Science - Mr C Leonard
  • Deputy Leader of Science - Mrs C Kelly
  • Teacher of Science – Mr J Hirst (Associate Vice Principal)
  • Teacher of Science - Mr T Hodson
  • Teacher of Science - Mr A Moffat 
  • Lead Teacher of Science - Ms L Espin
  • Science Technician - Mrs V Ford 

Benefits

We are aware of the immense role that Science plays in society, so we promote science-based professions and their gateway routes, so that learners have an awareness of the exciting job opportunities that are available to them. We try to relate lessons to the ideas that shape our understanding of the world around us, by promoting this through SMSC in our lessons.

In addition, we continue to tailor our Schemes of Work, lesson plans and resources to match the needs of our learners. We promote the use of scientific enquiry, encourage learners to solve problems, critically evaluating methods and claims. Practical work in science offers the opportunity for pupils to gain the experience of using equipment, whilst the investigations we carry out require our learners to develop a higher level of cognitive thinking.

Our expectations within the lab environment include:

  • working, moving, and being safe
  • having an open mind 
  • a willingness to meet challenges 
  • working hard.

Exam Boards & Qualifications

AQA Separate/Triple Science - GCSE Biology, Chemistry, Physics

AQA Double Science - two GCSEs in Core Science and Additional Science

KS3 Details

At Key Stage 3, pupils in Years 7 and 8 are taught in sets based on data from Key Stage 2, and have three 1-hour lessons of Science a week. 

Throughout Key Stage 3 our Science Skills course is followed, with a comprehensive bank of resources and activities, that cater for all interests and ability-ranges. Work is levelled throughout the year, using tests and APP activities, to gauge progress and provide feedback. 

KS4 Details

At Key Stage 4, pupils are placed in sets and lessons vary by year group.

There are two Science routes at KS4:

  1. AQA Separate / Triple Science. GCSE qualifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Each GCSE comprises of 2 examinations to test subject knowledge and application.
  2. AQA Combined Trilogy. Two GCSE qualifications in Combined Science. This compries of 6 examinations to test subject knowledge and application. 

Students are placed on a route based on their progress at Key Stage 3, attendance and teacher recommendation. Routes 1 and 2 both allow progression onto Science A-Level courses if students meet the entrance requirements.

Useful websites:

GCSE Pod

https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/examspecs/z8xtmnb

https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/examspecs/zpgcbk7

https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/examspecs/z8r997h

https://www.bbc.com/bitesize/examspecs/zsc9rdm

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