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Science at St Robert Bellarmine
At St Robert Bellarmine Primary School, we recognise the importance of Science in every aspect of daily life. As one of the core subjects taught in Primary Schools, we give the teaching and learning of Science the prominence it requires.
The Scientific area of learning is concerned with increasing pupils’ knowledge and understanding of our world, and with developing skills associated with Science as a process of enquiry. It will develop the natural curiosity of the child, encourage respect for living organisms and the physical environment and provide opportunities for critical evaluation of evidence.
At St Robert Bellarmine, we believe that high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils are taught the essential aspects of knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils are encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about the natural world. They are encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave and analyse causes.
Science at St Robert Bellarmine is about developing children’s curiosity, ideas and questions about the world around them. Planning meets the aims of the National Curriculum for Science and covers the required knowledge, conceptual understanding as well as the range of scientific enquiry types identified in the Programmes of Study. At St. Robert Bellarmine it is through working scientifically that children develop an understanding of the nature and processes of science and the key scientific concepts. We intend to provide all children, regardless of ethnic origin, gender, class aptitude or disability, with a broad and balanced science curriculum.
In line with findings from cognitive load theory (Baddeley & Hitch, 1974; Baddeley 1986; Rosenshine 2012; Sweller, 1988) lessons are chunked into small sessions of explicit teaching followed by regular opportunities for all children to think, apply and practice key scientific skills and knowledge. Using knowledge organisers supports our children in their understanding of each area of learning. It also gives them the opportunity to refer back to their previous linked learning. Over the course of the years, these knowledge organisers ensure that all pupils become ‘culturally literate’ (Hirsch, 1987) and have the opportunity to engage in ‘powerful knowledge’ (Young, 2013). The knowledge organiser acts as a planning, teaching and assessment tool. It provides complete clarity to leaders, teachers, pupils and parents about what is expected to be learnt and remembered by the end of the lesson and the unit andin the long term. We utilise low stakes quizzes at different stages in each of our topics. Low-stakes quizzes are efficient, effective and motivating for pupils, whilst providing teachers with vital information about what pupils have misunderstood, and/or what they are struggling to remember. The benefit of retrieval practise is one of the most robust findings in cognitive psychology (Roediger & Karpicke, 2006; Storm, Bjork & Storm, 2010) and we are keen to use
this proven research to support our children in the long-term retention of new knowledge.
At St Robert Bellarmine we also recognise that science provides rich opportunities to develop the cultural capital of our pupils. This is encouraged by challenging pupils to find out about eminent scientists during their prior learning tasks, including them on knowledge organisers and making reference to them during lessons. There are also a range of carefully planned activities to enhance the teaching of science for example relevant trips and visitors to school.
The impact and measure of science teaching at St. Robert Bellarmine is that children develop an understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiry that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them. They are also equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future.
Pupils also develop a secure understanding of each key block of knowledge and concepts, meaning that they can progress successfully to the next stage in their learning (e.g. from one year to another) and between key points of transition (such as between primary and secondary school).
Assessment is crucial in improving learning. Formative assessment is used regularly to inform teachers of on going progress and allows timely adjustments or intervention to be made that reflect the learning needs of all children in our school. Feedback is continually given to children, which leads to better outcomes in science. In line with our school assessment policy, summative assessment, in the form of an end of unit test is carried out at the end of each topic to inform teachers and aid their own teacher assessments.
We want the children to be passionate about science and understand its importance in our world and for our future. We want them to have a better understanding of the world around them and know that they can find answers to their own scientific questions. It is important that all children in St. Robert Bellarmine will be able to communicate confidently about their science learning, knowledge and skills.