At Woodrow we strive to ensure that child led inquiry and an exploratory attitude is at the heart of the science curriculum. Our ‘Mantle of the Expert’ approach provides a rich purpose for working scientifically and a platform to develop scientific knowledge, processes and inquiry. Alongside this, discrete science lessons are taught to ensure pupils have strong transferable skills to understand the world around them. Speaking and listening is highly valued throughout Nursery to Year 4. This not only encourages children to explore scientific vocabulary, but also share and develop their ideas with others.
In the Early Years child exploration is the springboard from which scientific inquiry emerges. By engaging in science activities children not only learn about the world around them, they also develop key skills in the three prime areas of learning. By helping children to explore confidently whilst questioning, comparing and testing their ideas, we are equipping children for lifelong learning. Creative and critical thinking is promoted through first hand practical experience, exploratory play and active learning within the school grounds.
As children move into Key Stage 1 pupil experiences are used to develop further curiosity. They look more closely at the natural and human constructed world around them to seek patterns and answers to their questions. Practical first hand experiences, alongside the use of secondary resources (books, photos, videos), supports the children to construct their own lines of inquiry with the support of the teacher. This allows them to begin to communicate their findings to a variety of audiences.
In Years 3 and 4 children broaden their view of the world around them. Exploration is still at the heart of learning, yet sophisticated skills of testing, decision making and observations are chosen carefully by the child. This supports children to form deeper connections between functions, relationships and interactions within the science curriculum. Working scientifically deeply underpins inquiry in order for children to discuss, interpret, classify and write about what they have found out.
‘Buddying’ across key stages was extremely beneficial last year in supporting staff assessment of children’s knowledge and skills when working scientifically. Science was taught in and out of the Mantle context and resulted in some positive reflections:
‘The way in which the children worked showed their belief in themselves as if they were scientists. They were focussed and engaged; some even obsessed [continuum of engagement].’
‘Working scientifically has been encompassed within the story quite successfully but then reflecting and improving has worked better outside of the story.’
‘Discussion between the children demonstrated their obsession with keeping it the same and measuring accurately. Isabelle “Ah, ah, ah that’s over 500ml, tip some out”. Harvey “I think there’s too much have a look”.’
We continue to repeat this approach across the school this academic year. Observations with teachers and the children show that pupils can explain their ideas and knowledge linked to science. This is evident as The impact of this will be further evidenced during pupil progress meetings, where ‘working scientifically’ will form a discussion with the headteacher and across year groups for moderation purposes.