Science at Courtney
Science is a strength at Courtney. During pupil conferencing, it is clear that the children are really enthusiastic about it and are keen to share their learning experiences. Staff put a lot of effort into planning and delivering high quality, inspiring lessons for the children, both inside and outside of the classroom, making use of our beautiful grounds and visits to places such as Bristol Zoo, We the Curious and the Earth Science Centre. No two science lesson are ever the same at Courtney, as we aim to expose the children to different types of scientific enquiry on a weekly basis. However, the drive to make lessons as skills focused, engaging, hands-on, thought provoking and relevant is always there.
Science is a core National Curriculum subject. Its importance cannot be highlighted too greatly, since it is the subject that seeks to explain and raise questions about the world around us. It is a subject which naturally captures children’s interest and curiosity and at Courtney we aim to nurture and harness this inquisitiveness. Our children are growing up in an increasingly scientifically advanced world and therefore they need to be scientifically literate in order to succeed. Teaching children science is teaching them how to think clearly, plan carefully, be methodical and precise, solve problems, make decisions and apply their learning from other subjects; all skills which are readily transferable to other subjects.
The Science curriculum is split into two key areas:
Scientific Knowledge and Conceptual Development
It is the expectation that the knowledge is, as much as possible, acquired through the development of the skills, rather than discretely. Each year group has five or six topics to deliver throughout the year, coming predominantly from the disciplines of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
To accompany each topic, there is an area of the skills to develop, which we call Plan, Do and Review.
Planning includes, for example: questioning, predicting and sequencing steps;
Doing includes setting up, carrying out tests, using equipment and recording results in a variety of ways;
Reviewing includes displaying results, analysing findings, communicating these in different ways and suggesting further lines of enquiry.
In order to embed both their scientific knowledge and writing skills, the children are also given the opportunity to produce at least one piece of cross-curricular writing per term. This could include: biographies, fact files, write-ups of tests, non-chronological reports, posters etc.
In order to maintain high levels of interest and engagement in Science, we hold a Science Week biannually, where in the past we have had visitors coming in from Explorer Dome, Zoo lab, RSPB etc and our memorable House Days, when children of all ages work together on fun activities each led by a different teacher; sometimes we invite the parents along to share in the fun too! Another highlight of this week is the Science Fair, where we invite children and parents to work on a project at home together and then bring it in to show to the rest of the school.
Wow Events, showcasing Science learning within a unit of work, and Sparkling Start display boards, where children work on something to display at home at the start of a topic, are other ways that we regularly engage both children and parents in Science throughout the year.
There has been no national testing as such for Science for a long time now. However, at the end of each key stage, teacher assessments are used to assess children against standards laid out in an interim framework document. In order to make the expected standard, children are expected to meet all the objectives contained within these documents, again for both their skills as a scientist and the knowledge they have acquired.
In order to make these judgements, keep track of progress and ensure all children are being suitably challenged and supported, teachers assess each child against the objectives being taught at the end of every lesson and record a summative assessment for them at the end of the unit of work. From the combination of these assessments, the judgement is made at ages 7 and 11 as to whether each child has made the necessary standards in the subject.