Monday, 27 May 2013

Curriculum for the future

My science faculty is small - 6 teachers - so I don't have the man-power to bring in a lot of change. I also know that the resources produced by the publishing companies will be rushed due to the short time scale. I dont think that the quality of exploring science will be the same! Instead I want to adapt what we have ready for the new national curriculum.

Add to the mix that as an independent school we don't have to follow the national curriculum. But, we do use GCSEs and this is ultimately what we will aim for at the end of key stage 4.

Without a firm idea of what will be in the GCSE science of the future we all have to do a best guess at the focus for the key stage 3 of the future.

At present we follow the qca units. But there are problems with this. Firstly that we don't really have time to go into depth in the units because we teach four weeks less than maintained school. We also miss lessons for trips and other extra curricular commitments. Secondly the teaching of these units could be better.

I want to ensure that the things we do teach our students are secure and they have a good grasp of the big ideas underpinning science, like cells and particles.

My aim is to teach less topics, to allow a greater depth of understanding. Teaching less topics means that we can also do less testing.

Year 7:
Cells; Reproduction; Environment; Particles; Acids and Alkalis; Simple Chemical Reactions; Forces; Energy (types and transfers); Magnetism
Year 8:
Digestion; Respiration; Photosynthesis; Solutions; Atoms and Elements; Compounds and Mixtures; Sound; Light; Electricity.

This leaves health and disease, and inheritance for biology, the reactions of metals and/or acids for chemistry and the more in depth energy (resources) and forces topics in physics.

What I am noticing at the moment is that students are not remembering their work from previous years, I want to ensure that each year we build on what went before.

There is work ahead of me this week to get a model that will work for everyone, staff, students and parents.


  1. Take a look at York Science post on backward design
    It will not tell you what topics to cover but it might help you tackle the planning.
    Don't do it alone - get your colleagues to be involved, so you all have ownership and understand the principles you are using.

    1. Thank you for the link to the blog post. I think that backward design will help teachers to focus on the learning that it going on and not just on covering the content. By introducing it at key stage 3 I would hope it would have an impact at other levels, especially key stage 5!

      I am starting with particles and energy, so I will blog about how we get on! I think these are topics that we have to teach at key stage 3. I am going to use advice from a book about solo taxonomy to help me write the learning objectives first!

  2. I'm helping rewrite our Year 8 scheme - we are massively focusing on HSW skills and catching imagination over cramming content in the hope that it will improve IGCSE which starts in Year 9. We will have 3x55 min per week, prob 34 weeks.
    Would be interested in what you decide!

    1. I think that teaching the students to think critically about science is more important than covering facts they can easily forget. I am interested in what you do too!

  3. solo taxonomy is something i am looking into using too. Have to agree on so many of your points, i want my pupils to discover and question not just remember facts. so many times they just worry about what is right or wrong and fail to see the why? or the thinking behind an idea or concpet.