‘A high-quality science education provides the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics. Science has changed our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all pupils should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. Through building up a body of key foundational knowledge and concepts, pupils should be encouraged to recognise the power of rational explanation and develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. They should be encouraged to understand how science can be used to explain what is occurring, predict how things will behave, and analyse causes.’
National Curriculum 2014
Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS)
In the EYFS, science is included within the Understanding the World area of learning. As with other learning in Reception, your child will mainly learn about science through games and play – which objects float and sink during water play, for example. Activities such as these will help your child to develop important skills such as observation, prediction and critical thinking.
Key Stage 1 (Years 1 and 2) and Key Stage 2 (Years 3 to 6)
The content of science teaching and learning is set out in the 2014 National Curriculum for primary schools in England. Within this, certain topics and areas are repeated across year groups, meaning that children may revisit a particular topic in each year of primary school but with increasing difficulty and with a different focus each time.
For example, the area of animals, including humans is examined in every single year group, with a very clear progression of knowledge and understanding over the six years:
In Year 1 this involves: looking at the human body, recognising animal groups and sorting these animals.
By Year 6, this will have developed into knowing the internal structure of the human body in relation to circulation, classifying living things based on more complex characteristics and exploring scientific research into this classification.
The more detailed content for each year group is as follows:
• Plants (basic structure)
• Animals including humans (basic knowledge of parts of human body and comparing animals)
• Everyday materials (describing properties)
• Seasonal changes.
• Plants (what plants need to grow)
• Animals including humans (needs for survival, food and hygiene)
• Use of everyday materials (explore and compare materials for uses)
• Living things and their habitats (explore variety of habitats, simple food chains).
• Plants (life cycles)
• Animals including humans (nutrition, skeleton and muscles)
• Rocks (fossils and soils)
• Light (reflection and shadows)
• Forces and magnets (magnetic materials, attracting and repelling).
• Animals including humans (digestive system, teeth and food chains)
• Living things and habitats (classification keys)
• States of matter (changes of state, evaporation and condensation)
• Sound (vibration, pitch and volume)
• Electricity (simple circuits, insulators and conductors).
• Animals including humans (human development from birth to old age)
• Living things and their habitats (life cycles and reproduction in humans and plants)
• Properties and changes of materials (dissolving, separating materials, reversible and irreversible changes)
• Forces (gravity, air resistance, water resistance, friction)
• Earth and Space (Earth, Sun and Moon, the solar system).
• Animals including humans (circulatory system, diet and exercise, healthy living)
• Living things and their habitat (classification, characteristics of plant and animal groups)
• Light (how it travels, how we see, shadows)
• Electricity (voltage and power in circuits, circuit components, symbols and diagrams)
• Evolution and inheritance (how living things have changed over time, fossils, dinosaurs, adaptation to environment).
Alongside these areas runs the Working Scientifically element. This focuses on the skills the children need to become accurate, careful and confident practical scientists. Children are expected to master certain skills in each year group and there is a very clear progression of these set out for each school to refer to.
In Year 1 a child may have to ask questions, carry out a simple test, record simple data and then try to answer questions.
By Year 6, they should be able to plan and carry out a fair test by using equipment accurately and taking exact readings or measurements. They are also expected to be able to draw conclusions from their results and record them using a range of graphs and charts.
Here are some useful weblinks you might like to look at.