We judge that the most serious issue currently is the inadequate support for future scientists, engineers, doctors, etc. This section deals only with the "able in science" route: suitable both for " Future Scientists" and for those able students who can achieve high grades.
The course will allow pupils to be successful in the examinations of at least one of the current suites of GCSE science qualifications. It is designed to be used voluntarily by schools to teach Science in a proper and stable manner that does justice to their pupils.
5 year curriculum: To achieve the objectives, the course will cover yrs7-11 at secondary school and include all the material needed for KS3 and KS4 assessments.
Teachers’ involvement: Research, curriculum development and course materials will all have a significant “practicing teacher” input. Books and exam questions will be scrutinised by practicing teachers before publication. The “reading age” of the material will be checked as appropriate for the group.
Quality and stability of materials: The materials used in the Scheme of Work will be stable and tested in classrooms. Changes to the curriculum will involve a re-ordering of material, not a re-write.
Coherence: Units will have a coherent “story”. It will be obvious to pupils what the unit is “about”, with as little disconnected material as possible.
Progression: Rather than developing understanding by spiralling through the same material in greater depth, the course should spiral through the same concepts, but in different contexts.
Evidence-based: As scientists, we want, where possible, to use teaching methods and materials which have been shown to work in tests which have scientific rigour. The difficulty that pupils have with abstract ideas will be specifically addressed by including, particularly for middle and academic groups, analogies and other links to existing knowledge and lessons designed to promote abstract thinking.
Constructivist: Learners construct their knowledge, building up from their own experience, then by experiences in lessons and only later being able to "abstract" or "theorise" to explain them. The science course structure needs to reflect this hierarchy.
- Year 7 will be common to all students (and taught in mixed-ability groupings) and its aims will be to
- expose all pupils to concrete knowledge of "interesting stuff" that is a mixture of the relevant and the novel.
- develop familiarity with different materials and descriptive knowledge (metals are shiny and bend, plants have leaves and roots…).
- emphasise the skills of observation, measurement, recording, graphical analysis and basic hypothesis construction and testing.
- regularly examine everyday examples of claims from the media (e.g. that certain yogurts aid digestion) to introduce pupils to the importance of (valid and correctly interpreted) evidence.
- develop the sub-skills of abstract thinking, such as classification, scale and ratio, fair testing etc
- Routes through:
- The course for the “able in science” will be designed as an A-level preparation which develops abstract understanding of the main theories of science and the maths required to apply them. This will require a course from yrs 7-11 with abstract ideas being developed from yr 8. We are confident that, using the best teaching methods, a higher percentage of pupils will achieve this level.
- Foundation level pupils will probably follow a "foundation" version of this course to allow flexibility. However, we believe that it would be better if non-academic pupils focussed on material which is specifically useful to them in their adult lives (for instance, about health, the environment, energy saving, analysing media reports, etc).