At Bournes Green Infant School, we want children to develop their understanding of the natural and physical world, teaching them key scientific vocabulary and encouraging children to ask their own questions while providing them with various opportunities to work scientifically.
Our science curriculum uses a spiral model, ensuring topics are repeated in different year groups and at contrasting times of the year with clear progression throughout. This gives children the opportunity to embed knowledge, deepen understanding and observe changes over time. Each science lesson includes opportunities to revisit prior learning so that teachers can carefully plan to build on and deepen what the children already know and address common misconceptions. Our strong emphasis on play, free exploration and observation in the early years, as well as some teacher-led science investigations, means that all children are exposed to different scientific ideas and develop an early understanding of nature, processes and methods in science. In key stage one, each topic begins with a knowledge-focused approach, as teachers ensure that children develop a secure understanding of the knowledge, concepts and vocabulary within each topic. Working scientifically is then layered on top to explore and reinforce the content and concepts taught through hands-on and practical investigations. This model of learning is based on research that suggests enquiry-based learning is most effective when children come from a knowledge-rich background, because it allows children to remember in the long term the content they have been taught and to integrate new knowledge into larger concepts.
Experiments and investigations are only ever recorded for scientific purpose and to develop or reinforce a specific skill such as making predictions, collecting data, repeating experiments and drawing conclusions. In Reception, children’s scientific discoveries are recorded in the form of observations, where teachers transcribe quotes and take photographs of children making sense of the world around them. In year 1 and 2 children develop their use of tables and charts, using them as tools to help them analyse and explain what they have found out. Alongside this, photographs are used across all year groups as a powerful visual stimulus to spark children’s memory and support them to talk about their experiences.