Re-defining Science approach: accounts of how we improved our Science curriculum (part 3)

Re-defining our approach-Science curriculum rationale

Our work on the Science curriculum has been inspired following my visit to Michaela school. In January I attended a Science conference which covered their best practice. A segment that I was intrigued by was their work on booklet design and sequencing the curriculum. According to Michaela School, sequencing the curriculum is more important than the actual activity in the lesson. They use the specification and list links between key ideas:

This image was taken from the Michaela School Conference in January 2020

This image illustrates their thought process on how they create these crucial links in their curriculum. They logically link key concepts, so they are easy to grasp and build on these ideas. They believe fundamental ideas need the most amount of fluency, so they ensure they revisit them. They spend most of the curriculum planning time on content related discussions and writing.

So, what actually is sequencing?

After the conference, we did a little bit of research behind what sequencing was and why any school would spend such a long time discussing how to arrange content in the Long-Term Plan. According to Tom Sherrington & Oliver Cavigliolo, the purpose of sequencing the curriculum is so that there is a coherent flow, allowing ideas to build on secure knowledge. This is staged deliberately in the curriculum, by building step by step towards a challenging goal.

This sounded very familiar to what we were already doing with our KOs on DPR. Our KOs progressively get harder each year and we build them up step by step to our final Year 11 KOs.

However, an integral part of sequencing is that it creates authentic connections, which allows teachers to teach knowledge to be remembered and not encountered. This method of feeding topics into topics they already know, helps students accumulate knowledge over time.

How did we sequence at the CST?

Prior to the work on sequencing, last year the science team at the CST worked on the curriculum to ensure it reflected the qualities of a spiral curriculum. This is when content is spaced out and is regularly revisited throughout the years. By revisiting topics, at incremental levels of difficulty, the students build up their understanding of key concepts, so as they mature, they make conceptual links and integrate prior knowledge with new knowledge.

Utilising this fantastic foundation, we decided, in order to sequence this curriculum, we needed to create links within each year group. This has meant that we will not be teaching the KOs in a linear manner in order to form authentic connections. This is an example of an annotated LTP:

We still revisit content every year within the curriculum. We’ve fine-tuned the work so that we can create links between each topic. Here we’ve created links between KO2 and KO4, ensuring we are building up prior knowledge to secure new knowledge.

Curriculum work is something that will always need amending. I don’t believe there’s anything such as a perfect curriculum. What we can do is use good practise, research and common sense to fine-tune and alter our curriculum, to make it the best possible. I anticipate that we will always be working on the Science curriculum to try and achieve the best outcome for our pupils.

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