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Rationale - What is the evidence base for selected strategies and curriculum choices?

14 Big Ideas

A curriculum based on 14 big ideas of science and ideas about science help pupils develop their understanding of and curiosity about science. In 2009 a group of experts in science education working with the Association for Science Education identified the key ideas that pupils should encounter in their science education to enable them to understand, enjoy and marvel at the natural world. Derek Bell et al (2010) The Principles and big ideas of Science Education. They agreed on 14 big ideas of and about science.

The ideas of science were:

  • All material in the Universe is made of very small particles.
  • Objects can affect other objects at a distance.
  • Changing the movement of an object requires a net force to be acting on it.
  • The total amount of energy in the Universe is always the same but energy can be transformed when things change or are made to happen.
  • The composition of the Earth and its atmosphere and the processes occurring within them shape the Earth’s surface and its climate.
  • The solar system is a very small part of one of millions of galaxies in the Universe.
  • Organisms are organised on a cellular basis.
  • Organisms require a supply of energy and materials for which they are often dependent on or in competition with other organisms.
  • Genetic information is passed down from one generation of organisms to another.
  • The diversity of organisms, living and extinct, is the result of evolution

The ideas about science were:

  • Science assumes that for every effect there is one or more causes.
  • Scientific explanations, theories and models are those that best fit the facts known at a particular time.
  • The knowledge produced by science is used in some technologies to create products to serve human ends.
  • Applications of science often have ethical, social, economic and political implications.

The benefits of using this model have been positively evaluated in Bell et al (2015) Working with Big ideas of Science Education. Our Science curriculum is built around these ideas but tailored to meet the needs of pupils working both at and below their chronological age.

Practical Activities in Science Enhance the Learning Experience for Pupils

The importance of practical work for all pupils especially pupils with special educational needs has been well documented. The Gatsby Foundation, (2017) Good Practical Science, recommended at least 50% of science lessons should have a practical element for pupils in secondary schools. At Woodlane the pupils complete practical tasks far more frequently. A report by The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, (2011) suggests practical work gives meaning to theory and can help to develop practical skills beneficial in future careers.

Our curriculum includes frequent practical tasks in a variety of forms.  These include but are not limited to carrying out simple chemical reactions, investigating forces and energy transfers and measuring pulse rate in key stage 3. Modelling DNA, comparing energy efficiency and investigating osmosis in key stage 4. During their time at Woodlane pupils also have the opportunity to visit the Science Museum and other venues to experience hands on activities outside the classroom environment.


Science Influences All Our Lives and the World Around Us

Science needs to be relevant to pupil’s lives and the application of more theoretic science made clearer if pupils are to engage with the subject. “Conveying the wider relevance of science to everyday life and to wider contexts may help to foster students’ interest in and perceived utility of science” Sheldrake et al (2017)

Work by Mc Cullagh and Doherty (2019) suggests using everyday contexts within science lessons “makes science phenomena recognisable and accessible and allows children to begin to engage with often abstract and challenging ideas”

The science taught in class is linked to our daily lives and real-world events. Pupils in key stage 4 follow an Entry Level Certificate or GCSE syllabus which puts a strong emphasis on the science pupils are likely encounter in the world around them.



Bell D, Devés R, Dyasi H, Fernández de la Garza G, Harlen W, Léna P, Millar R, Reiss M J,   Rowell P, and Yu W (2010)  The Principles and big ideas of Science Education, The Association for Science Education

Bell D, Devés R, Dyasi H, Fernández de la Garza G, Harlen W, Léna P, Millar R, Reiss M J,  Rowell P, and  Yu W (2015) Working with Big ideas of Science Education. The Association for Science Education

The Gatsby Foundation, (2017) Good Practical Science,

House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, (2011) Practical experiments in school science lessons and science field trips,9th Report of session 2010-12.

McCullagh J F and Doherty A (2019) The Benefits of setting science in an everyday context: A primary context. School Science Review, 100 (372), 21-27.

Sheldrake R, Mujtaba T and Reiss MJ. (2017) Science Teachers and students’ attitudes and aspirations: The importance of conveying the applications and relevance of science International Journal of Educational Research 85 167-183

Intent – What is Woodlane aiming to achieve through its Science curriculum

  • To develop an understanding of the concepts, processes and methods of science through different science enquiries that help pupils learn about the world around them.
  • To enthuse pupils by engaging them in practical activities that help them develop a passion for Science.
  • To develop the habit of regular revision through reading, watching educational programmes and videos, and completing written tasks including, past papers in order to practice exam techniques.
  • To relate Science to other subjects and to real life, and help pupils acquire ecological culture and behaviour.
  • To develop pupils’ ethical, social and cultural awareness in a variety of ways based on practical and reflective tasks in Science lessons. 
  • To equip pupils with sound knowledge of the subject, required to understand the uses and implications of Science and inspire them for future STEM careers.
  • To ensure pupils leave Woodlane with a Science qualification which reflects the best of their ability.

Implementation – How is the Science curriculum delivered?

Curriculum Delivery

  • Pupils have full access to the Science National Curriculum which is differentiated to meet pupils’ learning needs and styles.
  • The Science curriculum is designed to be challenging, appropriate to each pupil’s stage of development.
  • The Science curriculum offers opportunities for cross-curricula learning, to ensure pupils make significant personal development, including:
    • STEM lessons;
    • Science days;
    • Participation in events such as British Science Week, the Big Bang Fair, The Royal Society Summer exhibition
    • In-class interactive workshops aligned to STEM objectives;
    • Educational visits;
    • SaLT strategies/Word Aware integrated in to teaching;
    • Development of communication skills through discussions, paired and group work, educational games and formal presentations;
    • Use of media and websites to explore advancements in Science.
  • The KS3 Science curriculum is taught as follows:
    • Year 7 = 4 lessons, 3.33 hours contact time, (13.3% curriculum time). One of these lessons are taught with a focus on biology through Physical Education.
    • Year 8 = 4 lessons, 3.33 hours contact time, (13.3% curriculum time). One of these lessons are taught with a focus on food science through Design Technology Food.
    • Year 9 = 3 lessons, 2.5 hours of contact time, (10% curriculum time).
  • The KS4 Science curriculum is taught as follows:
    • Year 10 = 3 lessons, 2.5 hours of contact time, (10% curriculum time).
    • Year 11 GCSE Group = 4 lessons, 3.33 hours contact time, (13.3% curriculum time).
    • Year 11 Entry Level Group = 3 lessons, 2.5 hours of contact time, (10% curriculum time).
  • Recovery Lessons are timetabled for all of KS3 (x3 lessons per week), and Year 10 (x1 lessons per week). These lessons ensure dedicated curriculum time is provided to identified areas need. The topics and subjects covered are based on the school’s data, teacher observation and assessment.
  • The Science curriculum is designed to build and expand on previous skills and subject knowledge, over a 5-year period.  It also plans for opportunities for repetition to embed knowledge, increasing the chance of information recall and to integrate new knowledge into larger ideas (view our Science curriculum map in the appendix). 
  • The school offers the following qualifications in Science, which are selected to appropriately challenge, based on each pupil’s stage of development, including:
    • GCSE Biology (OCR)
    • Entry Level Certificate in Science (OCR)
    • AQA Unit Awards
  • Science is vital in understanding the world around us. ‘working scientifically’ is embedded within the content of biology, chemistry and physics, and focuses on the key features of scientific enquiry.
  • The school provides opportunities for pupils to learn through enjoyment, and therefore pupils experience real-life problem-solving challenges, and also Science trips where they participate in exciting activities.  
  • We provide additional extra-curricular activities at lunch time or after school, including:
    • GCSE Science support
    • Science club
    • Homework support


Teaching and Learning

  • Our pupils are taught by transition teachers in Year 7 and subject specialists from Year 8 to Year 11.
  • Our Science Subject Leader is well qualified, possessing a PGCE in Secondary Science, a Master’s Degree in Science Education and is a qualified teacher of the deaf.
  • The Science curriculum is differentiated broadly into 3 levels of challenge, ‘all’, ‘most’ and ‘some’.  Further differentiation and personalisation is implemented when required.
  • Science homework is provided on a standardised format and is differentiated to provide the appropriate level of challenge using 3 levels of challenge, ‘all’, ‘most’ and ‘some’ .
  • In Science we have a 3-tiered approach to supporting a pupil’s learning, including:


Specialist – it may be necessary to seek specialist advice and regular long-term support from a specialist professional in order to plan for the best possible learning outcomes for your child.

Targeted­ – it may be appropriate to consider making additional short term special educational provision to remove or reduce any obstacles to your child’s learning.  This takes the form of a graduated four-part approach of a) assessing your child’s needs, b) planning the most effective and appropriate intervention, c) providing this intervention and d) reviewing the impact on your child’s progress towards individual learning outcomes.

Interventions may include:


  • targeted teacher support with focus on preparing pupils for exams;
  • Year 11 Science support club;   
  • one to one support in lessons; and
  • termly Science targets.


Universal – this is the teaching your child will receive from the Science subject teachers and will include adaptations to match learning needs.  All classes:

  • are supported by a teaching assistant (TA);
  • have a maximum of 12 pupils per class to ensure there is a high level of support available from the teacher and TA;
  • are multi-sensory;
  • are dyslexia friendly;
  • integrate speech, language and communication support.




  • Pupils collate Pupil Achievement Books, where they showcase their best work and progress over time in Science.
  • Our bespoke Flight Path is used to track the progress of pupils in Science and determine expected outcomes from different starting points
  • Science teachers use a range of formative and summative assessment procedures to assess progress and attainment, including:
    • daily marking (click here for teaching and learning policy);
    • self/peer assessment;
    • targeted questioning;
    • science homework;
    • end of unit tests;
    • mock exam sessions;
    • informal/formal examinations; and
    • B-Squared etc.

ImpactWhat difference is the Science curriculum making on pupils?

  • The large majority of pupils meet their expected progress in Science.
  • The large majority of pupils meet or exceed their expected outcomes in Science (external qualifications)
  • The large majority of pupils leave Woodlane with at least one formally recognised Science qualification. Many pupils join mainstream colleges/sixth forms at post-16 where they study a range of different qualifications and subjects following excellent progress from their starting points in Science.
  • Pupils are well-prepared for the next stage of their education.
  • Analysis of Science outcomes and pupil progress indicates that there is some statistical significance between key groups. Where any small differences are identified strategies are implemented swiftly.
  • Scientific enquiry with its broader social and ethical meaning and significance, is embedded across the school and feeds in to all subjects. Excellent progress in Science has a significant benefit for pupils in all other subjects.
  • Learning science and the laws governing nature helps pupils understand our connections to the world we live in and develop as all-round individuals,
  • Practical skills and life-skills are embedded in the Science curriculum and are personalised for each pupil. This supports pupils to make the leap to post-16 provision and meets their needs when entering the world of work.

* Please see our annual SEF/SIP for further details.