Thornhill’s key principles for the teaching of Science:
A high-quality science education provides learners with the foundations for understanding the world. At Thornhill, we offer engaging and meaningful skills-based learning which develops pupils’ critical thinking and investigative skills. Whilst recognising the importance of research, explicit teaching and information resources, we believe students learn science most effectively through hands-on observation, experimentation and discovery.
The national curriculum for science aims to ensure that all pupils:
- develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
- develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
- are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future
At Thornhill, we work towards these aims by:
Working scientifically to build skills, processes and methods. These include: observing over time; pattern seeking; identifying, classifying and grouping; comparative and fair testing; understanding hazards and safe working procedures and researching. At Thornhill we aim to embed these ‘working scientifically’ skills within all learning which supports students to understand the process of scientific investigation and develop conceptual understanding.
Knowing about Science in the world to understand the relevance of classroom learning. We support students to become conversant with scientific knowledge and understanding, how it is used in the world and how it has changed over time. We aim for learners to understand the importance of science in their life and the wider world, engage in critical thinking and for a STEM-related career to be a viable and known aspiration.
Inspiring Curiosity through enjoyable, challenging and engaging lessons. Students are encouraged to be curious, embrace mistakes and see the value in all possible outcomes of a practical activity. At Thornhill, we know that a great science lesson leaves the learner not only with a sense of accomplishment, but with new questions to ponder and investigate. We build curiosity and science capital within students through clubs, trips, visits and connections with businesses and scientific organisations.
Building Knowledge to use as a foundation from which curiosity, questioning and investigation may develop. Within this, students are supported to use accurate scientific vocabulary to describe phenomena, explain concepts and articulate their reasoning.
The effective teaching of Science at Thornhill
Practical learning and Investigation: At Thornhill, science learning includes hands-on practical investigations and activities. It is widely understood that this has a positive impact upon student engagement, motivation, understanding, attainment and knowledge retention.
Enquiry-based: Thornhill students simulate the work of scientists by posing and responding to enquiry questions as part of the investigation process. This enables student voice, the development of key skills and learning about different types of enquiry including comparative and fair tests.
Sequential and Progressive learning: Concepts are taught strategically throughout the year/s with learning building upon prior knowledge and laying foundations and sparking curiosity for further learning in the future. A range of formative and summative assessment practices are used to inform planning.
Connected to the world beyond the classroom: Learning is presented in a relevant and meaningful way, supporting students to make clear connections between classroom learning and the wider world. Deliberate effort is made to address misconceptions and break stereotypes regarding science and scientists. This approach is strengthened by making links with other subjects and through trips, visits, projects and by making reference to how their science learning relates to news and current events.
Collaboration: Students are encouraged to work in pairs and small groups, supporting them to learn through shared questioning, discussion, predicting, hypothesising, investigating and reflecting.
Direct instruction and modelling: With some complex and abstract concepts, explicit and direct instruction is required. Some examples include the water cycle, classifying different rock types as well as the correct use of scientific vocabulary.
Research: Students are encouraged to develop research skills to support their practical learning. This includes learning about significant scientists, discoveries and how scientific understanding has changed over time. It also encompasses finding out about how science is used in the modern world and the scientific evidence that can be used to explain current events.
Assessment: At Thornhill, teachers use formative and summative assessment practices to accurately gauge prior knowledge and ensure that lessons are well-pitched with appropriate challenge. Learning is assessed through self-assessment, teacher observations and feedback, with progress tracked on Target Tracker.