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Science in primary schools

'A high quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world.'

'Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenoma.'

The 2014 National Curriculum, which reaffirms science as a core subject, describes the key ideas which will form the basis of the school's teaching programme. 'Working scientifically' in the new science curriculum encompasses the nature, processes and methods of science relevant to children at this stage.

The new curriculum poses some new challenges for primary schools: 

  • 'Working scientifically' requires a broader range of scientific enquiries and approaches than in the previous curriculum, with higher level scientific skills specified at Key Stage 2.
  • The Key Stage 2 programme includes higher level scientific ideas, such as genetics and evolution. Schools will need to consider how to engage pupils with these ideas by making the learning active and enquiry-based. 
  • The new curriculum emphasises the importance of pupils developing secure understanding of key scientific ideas in order to make good progress. To achieve this, schools will need to consider how best to distribute the content of the new curriculum in forming the school programme, to ensure that it is effective in promoting progression in teaching and learning. In particular, schools might focus on what learning should be retained in Key Stage 1, to form the basis for higher level learning in Key Stage 2, even where the scientific idea has been omitted from the Key Stage 1 programme. Schools have been given the flexibility within the new curriculum to re-distribute content in this way. An audit of the school's current teaching programme is likely to provide a good basis from which to shape the new programme.