At Sutton Courtenay we encourage children to be inquisitive throughout their time at the school and beyond, as this is a key foundation for lifelong learning. The Science curriculum fosters a healthy curiosity in children about our universe and promotes respect for the living and non-living, and well as a sense of spiritual awe and wonder. We believe science encompasses the acquisition of knowledge, concepts, skills and positive attitudes. Throughout their time at school, we aim to ensure that the Working Scientifically skills are built-on and developed throughout so that children can apply their knowledge of science when using equipment, conducting experiments, building arguments and explaining concepts confidently whilst continuing to ask questions and be curious about their surroundings.
Teachers create a positive attitude to science learning within their classrooms and reinforce an expectation that all children can achieve high standards in science. Our whole school approach to the teaching and learning of science involves being taught in planned and arranged topic blocks by the class teacher. This is a strategy to enable the achievement of a greater depth of knowledge which the children build on as they progress through the school. This is usually as weekly science lessons but can also be blocked or taught within a topic, if this more appropriate. We understand that it is important for lessons to have a skills-based focus, and that the knowledge can be taught through this.
Children are encouraged to ask their own questions and be given opportunities to use their scientific skills and research to discover the answers. This curiosity is celebrated within the classroom. Planning involves teachers creating engaging lessons. Teachers use precise questioning in class to test conceptual knowledge and skills and assess children regularly to identify those children with gaps in learning, so that all children keep up. Working Scientifically skills are embedded into lessons to ensure these skills are being developed throughout the children’s school career and new vocabulary and challenging concepts are introduced through direct teaching. This is developed through the years, in-keeping with the topics.
Children are offered a wide range of extra-curricular activities, visits, trips, visitors, and links with local secondary schools within our partnership to complement and broaden the curriculum. These are purposeful and link with the knowledge being taught in class. Regular events, such as Science Week, Bright Sparks science club, Science Oxford competition or project days, allow all pupils to come off-timetable, to provide broader provision and the acquisition and application of knowledge and skills.
This approach results in a fun, engaging, and quality science education that provides children with the foundations and knowledge for understanding the world. Our engagement with the local environment ensures that children learn through varied and first-hand experiences of the world around them. So much of science lends itself to outdoor learning and so we provide children with opportunities to experience this. Through various workshops, trips, gardening club and our own Forest school site as well interactions with experts, children from EYFS to Year 6 have the understanding that science has changed our lives and vital to our future. Pupil voice is used to further develop the Science curriculum, through questioning of pupil’s views and attitudes to Science to support the children’s enjoyment of science and to motivate learning.
Teachers assess each child and make a judgement about whether they are working towards, meeting or exceeding age related expectations.
We held two assemblies to mark COP 26. In the first, one of the Ridgeway Trustees, Andrew Kaye, visited us. He told us all about how his career in science had helped to collect some of the data that enables us to study climate change. It was fascinating to hear about how he had flown in a plane measuring the levels of methane rising across the country. This enabled the children to see the importance of science for all of us, and showed them how the early steps they are taking in science as they learn to measure the outcomes of simple experiments accurately are the foundations of change in the future.
In the second, we talked about what we would like to say to the world’s leaders as they left Glasgow as the negotiations took place. Mrs Hornsey challenged the children to write a letter to the world’s leaders expressing their feelings about the decisions ahead. The responses showed the impact of our Science curriculum. So many children wrote such passionate letters. No time was given in school to do this – they did this in their own time because they care so much. We hope you will find inspiration from watching this short video made from some of the children reading out one sentence each from their letter.
We sent our letters to our MP, David Johnston. He forwarded them to Alok Sharma, the conference president, who wrote a letter back to our school.