"To build safe, independent lives for autistic young people through support, understanding and enablement"
In a world where being able to question, investigate and discuss theories dominates, our science curriculum is suitably designed to provide opportunities for students to practice these crucial skills via the teaching of a broad range of key concepts that are related to the pupils’ everyday life. At Springfields Academy, the science curriculum aims to ensure that all pupils can:
Develop their own ideas or theories
Test their ideas using scientific equipment competently and safely
Present and evaluate evidence that will inform themselves and educate others
Discuss important scientific issues in everyday life
Recognise and use appropriate vocabulary when describing, explaining and analysing scientific phenomenon
A pupils learning journey begins with allowing pupils to observe, discover and question the world around them. It is from these questions and observations that investigations and discussions can develop that allow pupils to understand the importance of evidence- based theories. At Phase 1 and 2 (KS1-KS2), pupils are supported to develop the skills that will allow them to develop fair tests, comparative tests, use some scientific equipment safely and correctly, and identify simple causal links in data.
We teach scientific skills using concrete practical experiments and visual means where possible to suit our autistic learners. In addition to this investigations are developed and organised in a logical format creating routine and familiarity for our learners.
The topics covered are linked to the interests of each class and cover a broad range of concepts (see progression mapping). Children explore science through play based activities and teacher led investigations e.g. choosing the correct material to build a house for the three little pigs. Units are planned to create inquisitive minds that ask ‘why?’ In addition to this science is covered in spontaneous moments during everyday teaching- e.g. Where did the puddles go?
Upper Phase 2 and Phase 3 (KS3 to KS4) will see a greater “fine-tuning” to this line of questioning, a greater use of experimental equipment and techniques, and a deeper dive into the:
· Development of the accuracy and precision of the results collected
· Data presentation, extrapolation and analysis
· Assessing reliability and reproducibility of data
The science curriculum has a strong focus on developing the practical Scientific skills. Phase 1,2 and 3 classes in all cohorts will focus on one of the science skills from A-E and assess students in terms of their mastery with the set of sub-skills within each skill. Teachers can use the section of the framework that fits best with their class.
At Phase 3 (KS4), the science curriculum framework continues to allow all pupils to succeed on 2 distinct pathways: Entry Level/Level 1 and the GCSE pathways at Key Stage 4. Typically, GCSE students undertake the entry level qualification first, which will provide the incremental steps to GCSE. Providing these steps allows the pupil with autism to not only be familiar with GCSE concepts at a reduced pace, but will allow them to experience success once they have achieved an early qualification. Students not taking GCSE will complete their entry level qualification prior to beginning a Level 1 Award in Applied Science and Technology. In both pathways, students will need to develop their core investigative skills in planning, data collection, data presentation, data analysis and evaluation. The core difference between the GCSE and Entry Level pathways is the level of challenge and assessment method, which are exams and portfolio, respectively.
The Springfields Science department has been fortunate to partake in a number of experiences that allow our students to explore the subject and engage with the local community. We have close links with neighbouring schools which have allowed us to run exciting STEM projects, from making ice cream to building a sports car. We have also invited in guest speakers such as those from the Space Agency, to run demo days, and also run our own in-house STEM days (with the maths department) and British Science Awareness weeks. The aim of our events is to get the pupils from KS1 to KS4 students excited about science, and see how much of it overlaps with their daily lives. It is also an opportunity to experiment and engage in concepts that are outside of the typical curriculum. The emphasis for our Upper Pahse 2 and Phase 3 (KS3-KS4) pupils especially, is to see where a qualification in science can help them find employment. Engaging with the community, and outside agencies, also allows student to practice good discussion, questioning and appropriate communication.
Measuring the Impact of the Science Curriculum:
Assessment in science is designed to support and motivate students to be good investigators. Accurate feedback must be given at all times so students can develop their scientific literacy, and must also be also provide an opportunity to challenge misconceptions. In light of this potential obstacle, feedback must be as immediate as possible, to allow for these to be corrected. There are two forms of assessment that occur; one for assessing the skills, and one for content:
Assessing skills: ongoing assessment via written feedback after investigations or practical work
Assessing key concepts (KS4 only): End of Topic Tests, Weekly Low-Stake Tests, Book marking
For all pupils who study science, their progress is monitored carefully on a termly basis through the school’s scheduled assessment and pupil progress cycle.
The science curriculum in is evaluated regualrly:
To ensure coverage of GCSE, Entry Level and Level 1 content prior to external assessment (Phase 3)
To ensure the breadth of curriculum is sufficient for learners and covers aspects that will inform their lives in the best manner
To satisfy pupil interest that will further engage learning
This evaluation is achieved via the following:
Open discussion with pupils about what they want to learn and how they would like to achieve those objectives
Reviewing the curriculum in conjunction to the school development plan to ensure all objectives are met
Progress towards EHCP outcomes
Previous accreditation achieved by student
Impact of the Science Curriculum:
All Springfields pupils will leave the academy with functional scientific skills to lead a safe independent life. This will be evident in all pupils achieving as a minimum the Entry Level 1 qualification in English; many will achieve higher level qualifications such as further Entry Levels, Functional Skills Qualifications and some may achieve GCSE Science.