Science at Bitham Brook is taught as a discrete subject linking to other subjects where appropriate. These links are carefully considered to ensure that children have all the knowledge they need to be successful in science. For example, they do not measure in science until they have learnt how to do this correctly in maths. As a core subject two hours of curriculum time is given to science each week.
The science curriculum has been designed with the knowledge at its centre. The schools programme of study focuses on the following forms, or categories, of knowledge.
Substantive knowledge –this equates to the scientific knowledge and conceptual knowledge set out in the national curriculum. Substantive knowledge is the product of science. This type of knowledge can typical be described as ‘I know that…
Procedural knowledge is the knowledge exercised in the performance of a task. This type of knowledge can typical be described as ‘I know how to…
Disciplinary knowledge – for the purposes of the Science POS, this equates to the ‘working scientifically’ section of the National Curriculum. This section sets out what pupils need to know about how science establishes and refines scientific knowledge. Disciplinary knowledge is often composite in nature in that they are tasks or skills that require a number of different building blocks of component knowledge in order to perform them.
The curriculum has then been carefully sequenced to create an interplay between substantive and disciplinary knowledge. This ensures that pupils not only know ‘the science’; they also get a sense of how the evidence for it was established and build their understanding of how to think scientifically. Pupils will always learn the substantive knowledge before engaging in disciplinary practices.
As children progress through the school they learn increasingly sophisticated knowledge of the products (substantive knowledge) and practices (disciplinary knowledge) of science. Pupils are not expected to acquire disciplinary knowledge simply as a by-product of taking part in practical activities. Disciplinary knowledge is taught.
The schools Science curriculum has taken the content from the National Curriculum into meaningful and connected ‘chunks’. Lessons are sequenced to build conceptual understanding and reduce the load on the working memory as well as creating coherent and strong long-term memories.
Vocabulary is vital to allow children to be able to discuss what they have learnt using scientific vocabulary. High frequency, multiple meaning words (Tier 2) are taught explicitly and help make sense of subject specific words (Tier 3). These words build progressively through the curriculum. These words can be found on the curriculum overview.
The importance of retention of knowledge is much more than just ‘in the moment knowledge’. The curriculum ensures that knowledge is built on lesson by lesson and links are made to previous learning. CUSP retrieval quizzes are used to give the children spaced retrieval practice to interrupt the process of forgetting.
During each science unit misconceptions are made explicit to pupils. Children are encouraged to draw upon substantive and disciplinary knowledge to reason and practise acquiring the conception, whilst repelling the misconceptions.