Science is a key subject at St Michael’s, reflecting our school’s location close to the University of Oxford, one of the world’s leading scientific research institutions. In line with the National Curriculum, our aim is to give our children a firm grounding in scientific knowledge and concepts, to generate a real sense of excitement around science learning and to encourage our children’s curiosity about the world around them. We want them to see science as a means of explaining how and why things happen now, as well as the key to improving how things might be in the future. Our aim is for our children to leave St Michael’s fully prepared to engage with scientific study at secondary school and be keen to question and challenge what is going on around them.
Our science curriculum matches the objectives of the National Curriculum and we use the Hamilton Trust’s materials to support teachers’ planning. Hands-on investigative science activities are used to promote a deep understanding of scientific concepts, helping children to develop effective methods of scientific enquiry. The children learn a range of investigative approaches including: questioning, observation, pattern seeking, exploring, problem solving, fair testing, and analysing secondary sources. The children develop and apply their enquiry skills across six separate science topics a year, which provide them with foundational knowledge in four scientific disciplines: biology, chemistry, physics and earth sciences. The science topics taught each term are listed here: science curriculum overview.
Science is taught in discrete weekly lessons of at least an hour in length. As the children progress through the school they revisit and build on their bank of scientific knowledge and extend their scientific skills, becoming increasingly independent investigators. As an extension of the curriculum, every year, all the children enter Science Oxford’s Big Science Event and spend a week working in groups to carry out their own independent investigations. In 2019, one of our teams won the event and we were runners up in 2021. Information about progression in science can be found here: science progression.
Where pertinent, science learning is linked to other areas of the school curriculum and is further enhanced by trips, workshops and visitors, including our scientist parents. Past activities include: visits to the Museum of Natural History with its extensive collection of rocks, fossils and information about animals and plants; trips to the Oxford Botanic Garden, the Living Rainforest, to a farm and local parks; learning about the brain from researchers and visiting the brain scanner at the John Radcliffe hospital; children in Reception and Year 1 visit Forest School weekly and we have our own pond (with lots of newts) and allotment; fun visits from science workshops mix science learning with lots of bangs and tricks; and visits from a mobile planetarium and animals linked to our topics.
As they progress in their acquisition of science knowledge and skills, teachers support the children in evaluating their work and understanding how they can improve. We want all our children to be able to:
- Problem-solve and answer questions, explore their own ideas and deepen their conceptual understanding
- Work with independence, thinking and reasoning confidently
- ‘Be a scientist’, able to use a toolkit of relevant practical scientific skills
- Communicate effectively to an audience using technical and scientific vocabulary
Children’s progress and attainment is assessed at the end of each half term’s unit of work. Teachers review results with the Science Lead and the Head Teacher, which allows for a discussion not only about the success of each child, but of the curriculum content and delivery.