High quality Science is an essential element of curriculum design

by | May 25, 2021 | Curriculum

High quality Science is an essential element of curriculum design

Working in synergy

Building the systems that will deliver high quality science across the primary school is essential in the design of the curriculum. Science is a core subject along with Mathematics and English but is often given less prominence or timetable space.

It is mandatory for pupils to begin their science education in the early years foundation stage and the continuation of a deep and rich science schema is an essential element of the National Curriculum.

In order to have the evidence that Science is given high prominence and prepares pupils for the next stage of their education does require a profound understanding of the concepts that underpin scientific knowledge and the skills pupils need to build their understanding over time.

Inevitably, this means someone within the school must be given the role of science lead who has the time to understand the aims and content of The Programmes of Study for Science and their importance within the wider curriculum offer.

Delivering high quality science from early years to year 6 and beyond

The designated lead for science has an important role as a leader of curriculum design. They must lead on how pupils develop a wide range of vocabulary as an essential part of the EYFS curriculum that lays the foundations for building a complex scientific vocabulary over time.

Creating wonder through science

The role of the science lead is to support teachers to work together to plan a sequential pathway that ensures pupils can make connections, deepen their learning and understand the concepts that underpin science in the widest curriculum contexts.

Science subject quality is underpinned by the need to ensure systems are sufficiently robust to create the space, time and resources for meaningful science to take place. They must have a sound understanding of the pedagogy that defines high quality science teaching and create with their teams an assessment methodology that allows all pupils to progress well, that corrects misconception and encourages challenge, enquiry and problem solving.

The Classification of Scientific Knowledge Essential for High Quality Science delivery

It is acknowledged by many commentators that the primary science lead may not have deep scientific expertise such as that required of a science teacher in the secondary phase.  However, whoever they are it is true that their own education will they have achieved at least a GCSE and maybe even an A level in one or more of the sciences.

Science makes sense of the world

Therefore, all those who teach science in the primary phase have learning way beyond that of their pupils.

Recognising this expertise is a very good starting point in beginning to design a high quality science curriculum that creates a sequence of connected knowledge that allows pupils to build their knowledge of scientific concepts and procedures.

The recently published research review of science by OFSTED describes how the distinction between substantive knowledge and disciplinary knowledge make a useful framework for constructing science curricula. Understanding the difference between these is useful and reflects how knowledge is used and arranged in the sciences.

Substantive knowledge is essentially the laws, concepts, theories and models and disciplinary knowledge is creating the evidence, knowing how science works and how through enquiry and evidence proof is established or suggested.

Weaving these two elements together is the key to creating high quality outcomes for science learning. Creating the opportunity through high quality CPD to focus on how to blend the substantive with the disciplinary through the use of exciting subject matter, interesting resources and challenging activities will lead the pupil towards deeper understanding where the concepts become familiar and remain as an integral part of the long term memory.

CPD to build high quality science outcomes

Primary scientists are hard to find. However, the best way forward is to build on the substantive knowledge and outstanding pedagogy that will be present within the existing school staff and can form an integral part of any job description and person specification for new staff.

Science is an essential ingredient in the construction of high quality curriculum and must be integral to all other elements of curriculum design. We have designed a training day for science subject leads that will focus on the main ingredients of a high quality science education in the primary phase, essentially these include,

  • The vocabulary of science and how to develop a language linked to substantive and disciplinary knowledge
  • A focus on the sequencing of the curriculum and defining attainment targets and learning goals over time
  • Creating opportunities for pupils to make connections within the science disciplines and across the wider curriculum
  • Understanding science concepts and creating opportunities to deepen knowledge and understanding
  • Defining the skills that learners need in order that they are disciplined in their approach to enquiry, data handling, problem solving and experimentation
  • Progression is planned to take account of what is taught in other subjects

Delivering High Quality Science in the Primary School and in Key Stage 3

Visit the planetarium at the Science Museum

Join us at the Science Museum in Birmingham on 3rd March for a truly inspirational day focusing on how to ensure the evidence that you are delivering a high quality science curriculum.

Enjoy face to face discussions, presentations and opportunities to plan. When the work is complete there will also be an opportunity to have a look around the museum. Immerse yourself in science and take a wealth of learning back to share with colleagues.

New Books


The book ‘Primary Curriculum Design and Delivery by Glynis Frater‘ has now been published.

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