Science Subject Overview
Includes Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Medical Science
Statement of Intent
The study of science is critical in the delivery of our school mission statement; we strive to provide a whole-person education through which all are challenged to grow in wisdom, understanding, self-esteem and closeness to God.
At St Mary’s, science holds a special place in the wider curriculum as it is compulsory for all students up to GCSE level and it makes up a minimum of two of each students’ Key Stage 4 curriculum. We also offer the further study of science at Key Stage 5 offering a number of options.
At St Mary’s the three intended outcomes for students covering science are:
- Students have the knowledge and understanding to be able to enjoy studying science. Our students will become confident, independent and enquiring students who develop a life-long love of science that will allow them to lead a more enriched life.
- Students have a good knowledge and understanding of the science that they will experience in their day-to-day lives so that they can be well-informed citizens who understand the importance of choices made by individuals, communities and as a society.
- Students have the knowledge and understanding to continue their study of science into Key Stage 5 and beyond if they choose. We strive for excellence within our curriculum to enhance student’s life choices and so we offer biology, chemistry and physics at A Level and Level 3 Medical Science. We choose to offer medical science as we have excellent work experience links with Victoria hospital, our local hospital and because many students wish to pursue a career in this field.
A student studying science at St Mary’s will have the opportunity to build on their previous learning and develop a knowledge and understanding of the substantive knowledge that underpins the study of biology, chemistry and physics. This builds on the topics first introduced in Key Stage 1 and 2, developed further by studying the equivalent breadth of the National Curriculum at Key Stage 3 and going into greater depth at Key stage 4 and 5 in phenomena such as: atoms, cells and where new life comes from.
To ensure students have a firm grasp of scientific concepts, the curriculum is sequenced in an appropriate order, carefully building on previously learned knowledge. The key scientific concepts have been mapped through the curriculum so that links between topics can be made and therefore schema can be built upon.
As well as substantive knowledge, students at St Mary’s develop an understanding of the declarative knowledge in science. They learn about how theories eventually become facts and how evidence can be gathered to support this. The study of how science works is mapped throughout our Key Stage 3 so that skills and understanding are developed and at Key Stage 4, students learn about the establishment of fact in examples such as; how the nuclear model of the atom has been established as scientific fact.
Good literacy skills are critical for the successful study of science at St Mary’s and so we have built the development of scientific literacy into our curriculum. We are committed to pre-teaching tier 3 vocabulary using the Frayer model. This is a simple model used to introduce new vocabulary so that students are able to access new vocabulary. Reading and understanding scientific text is different to reading text in other subjects. Students learn the SURE technique in Key Stage 3 lessons to enable to read and understand scientific text. SURE is an evidence informed technique to approaching the reading of a text to ensure that the intent and meaning of the text is clear.
The everyday experience of students out of school juxtaposed with the scientific explanation of phenomena at St Mary’s can give rise to many deep-rooted misconceptions in students. At St Mary’s we have considered the most common misconceptions while co-planning and co-constructing the schemes that we work with to ensure that misconceptions are challenged early. Through our DAFITAL process, we are able to regularly re-visit our schemes and develop our strategies. The science department at St Mary’s is also committed to developing our explanations when teaching more challenging concepts.
We believe that it is important for all students to spend meaningful time learning in a lab. Unusually, not all science lessons are in the labs. We believe that going into a lab is a peak in the science curriculum and the fact that students are not usually in the lab makes the experience more exciting and memorable for them. Practical activities at St Mary’s are purposeful and related to a specific part of the curriculum. Some practical activities are designed to give students the opportunity to develop their investigation skills, other practical activities are undertaken to demonstrate phenomena that they have learned in their theory lessons and some activities are planned to give students the opportunity to experience classic science activities such as heart dissections, reaction of magnesium and oxygen or the Van de Graff generator.
As science is such a large proportion of the curriculum and has so many linked ideas it is critical that students are able to retain and use key terms throughout their study. To help them with this we have developed knowledge organisers for each topic and our home-learning tasks are often self-quizzing key terms from the relevant knowledge organiser. In class, we begin each lesson with a low stakes assessment.
The science curriculum addresses social disadvantage by addressing gaps in students’ knowledge and skills. This is done by identifying gaps in knowledge through baseline assessment at the beginning of Year 7 and being responsive in the delivery of our curriculum. We assess students minute by minute in class, formatively through written tasks and tests. As a science department, after each assessment window, we use DAFITAL time to discuss any apparent gaps in knowledge and then how we can address them for whole cohorts, individual classes or individual students. As students have missed school time through COVID, these DAFITAL meetings become more important to identify problem areas.
Science is the perfect forum to develop cultural capacity in students and we are planning to develop our schemes of learning to implicitly include opportunities for students to develop their cultural capacity. The science curriculum covers a broad range of ideas that have cross-curricular links. There are also numerous examples in the curriculum of how science has improved the quality of life in humans and unfortunately, how it has done the opposite. Representation issues are rife in science and our curriculum hopes to challenge the idea that science is for ‘white men in white coats’. We are planning to develop our schemes of learning to include opportunities to explore the impact of science on the wider world and to give credit to the women and people from ethnic minorities who have contributed to the science canon.
Science is such an interesting and unusual subject and coupled with the mission statement of the school we want to ensure that all students have the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding to lead a happy and fulfilled life and to make an excellent contribution to society no matter how large or small.
KS3 Curriculum Map
Year 7 Overview
Our year 7 science curriculum is designed to support the transition to KS3 study by covering key ideas from the fundamental topics of Cells, Substances, Forces and Energy. The working scientifically focus for year 7 is “How scientists make observations, derive conclusions and ask questions”. Our KS3 curriculum spirals throughout the year to ensure that we are building on prior knowledge and providing multiple opportunities for pupils to practice their scientific skills. Pupils will also be introduced to our SURE approach to reading like a scientist, they will be taught how to use our numeracy protocol for using mathematical equations as well as strategies for revising like a scientist.
Year 7 Topics
Substances: Particle Model and changes of state
Cells: Introduction to cell structure and function
Forces and Energy: Introduction to forces and magnetism
Year 8 Overview
Year 8 Topics
Chemical reactions: Review of the particle model, introduction to the periodic table and chemical reactions
M&EC: Review of cell structure and function, aerobic and anaerobic respiration
Waves: Introduction to waves and their properties
Year 9 Overview
Our year 9 science curriculum is designed to support the transition to KS4 study. Initially pupils will build upon prior KS3 knowledge by covering key concepts such as heredity, organisms and their environment, atomic structure, bonding and electricity. This part of our curriculum is designed to introduce complex topics in a more manageable way as to not overload pupils as well as providing plentiful opportunity to practice key skills. Following this, pupils go on to complete a bespoke GCSE ready transition unit where pupils are explicitly taught to skills needed to be successful in KS4 before finishing off the year by starting their GCSE study. Throughout year 9 the working scientifically focus is “Testing scientific theories and analysing data” and the mathematics focus is “Mathematical relationships.”
Year 9 Topics
Biology: Review of cell structure and function, DNA structure, the cell cycle and an introduction to inheritance
Chemistry: The structure of an atom, atomic mass and relative formula mass.
Physics: Static electricity, current electricity, series circuits
KS4 Curriculum Map
Our KS4 programme is based upon the AQA Trilogy and Separate Science specifications. Our knowledge rich curriculum builds upon our KS3 offer and is designed so that concepts build from concrete to abstract whilst also enabling students to utilise the skills introduced in the GCSE ready transition period. Throughout GCSE study pupils will have the opportunity to build on their practical skills and data analysis skills through completing scientific enquiries within each of the three scientific disciplines. Pupils also enhance their literacy skills through engaging with rich texts which complement our KS4 curriculum.
Year 10 Biology Topics
Infection and Response
Year 11 Biology Topics
Inheritance, Variation and Evolution
Year 10 Chemistry Topics
Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table
Bonding and Structure
Year 11 Chemistry Topics
Chemistry of the Atmosphere
Rates of Reaction
Year 10 Physics Topics
Year 11 Physics Topics
A Level Curriculum Map
A Level Biology Overview
A level Biology follows the AQA specification. The course explores scientific ideas and experimentation to discover more about the world around us – a focus on organisms, how they are structured and function. Using the foundational knowledge from KS4 students learn to apply knowledge to the wider world around us to become proactive, independent and resilient scientists.
Year 12 Biology Topics
Year 13 Biology Topics
Organisms Respond into Control of Gene expression
Energy and Ecosystems
A Level Chemistry Overview
KS5 Chemistry students study the AQA A Level Chemistry Specification and similarly to GCSE, study core content and skills in the first term. KS5 Chemistry is delivered by a pair of teaching staff who deliver separate topics simultaneously. At KS5, required practical sessions are used to enrich teaching and give students the opportunity to build a portfolio of skills which can be utilised in future careers and higher education courses. Producing young chemists who have sound analytical thinking and problem solving skills.
Year 12 Chemistry Topics
- Atomic Structure
- Bonding and Structure
- Amounts of Substance
Year 13 Chemistry Topics
- Organic Chemistry
- Rates of Reaction
- Acids and Bases
A Level Medical Science Overview
Year 12 Medical Science Topics
Simple biological molecules
Transport in cells
Principles of physiological testing
Unit 2 coursework
Year 13 Medical Science Topics
Methods of drug action
Fate of medicines in the body
Unit 4 coursework (Part 1 and 2)
A Level Physics Overview
A level Physics is a mixture of highly conceptual thinking and very practical application of idea. During the course pupils are challenged to master challenging conceptual ideas as diverse as fields, relativity and quantum mechanics whilst at the same time solve problems applied to materials and mechanics.
In addition pupils are required to become competent practical physicists who can design, carry out and evaluate the validity of the experimental data collected and thereby the conclusions drawn.
We follow the AQA A level Physics specification. This consists of studying 9 units and completing 12 required practical activities. Successful completion of the required practical activities leads to the award of the Practical Endorsement in physics.
Completion of the course will provide pupils with the ability to
- Demonstrate understanding of key physics concepts and ideas
- Apply these ideas to solve problems
- Describe the idea of scientific enquiry and techniques applied in physics
- Analyse data and ideas in order to evaluate and make judgements on the conclusions formed from the data
Year 12 Physics Topics
Initially we focus on the transition from KS4 – looking specifically on the basic transferable skills required to be a success at KS5 and focus on the ideas of the demands of uncertainty in practical work
Then we start on the topics of waves and electricity – with a focus on review of the KS4 basics and deepening possession of these ideas and introducing some the new ideas of A level demand
Year 13 Physics Topics
The fields approach is completed by looking at magnetic and gravitational fields. In addition pupils will develop the particle model of KS4 to look at the thermal physics topic.
In addition the pupils prepare for their first mock season of year 13 – completing a paper 2 mock and reviewing their strengths and weaknesses.