St Ursula’s School

Science Curriculum Intent

At St Ursula’s Convent School, our vision is to engage the natural curiosity of our students, to ignite a passion for exploring and discovering the world around them with confidence, so that they have a deeper understanding of the world we live in.

Our science curriculum at St Ursula’s teaches knowledge in the disciplinary fields of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Alongside the sciences, students are taught the key skills of practical investigation; being able to ask a question, perform research, form and test a hypothesis, analyse data and draw conclusions.  Mathematical skills in science are also taught throughout the key stages, which further develop the student’s analytical skills when working with data.   We aim to inspire the girls at St Ursula’s to pursue a science-based career in the future, particularly in fields where women are in the minority.  Where appropriate, we include key scientists that have been involved in discovering key scientific processes and we include a range of diverse scientists that are currently working in specific fields.  We aim to provide a scientific education to our students that empowers them to go out into the world to be able to question and ask the how and the why questions.  We want our students to be able to engage with how science overlaps in their everyday lives; for example, how to change a plug, making key decisions about healthcare and lifestyle choices, understanding how an energy bill is calculated or how to identify ‘bad science’ in the press. We do not want our students to just accept the status quo, we want them to empower them to be able to ask questions and challenge existing ideas to further build upon the scientific knowledge currently available.

As subject experts we recognise the contribution that Science makes to developing students’ literacy. We promote disciplinary literacy so that students can read and speak as a Scientist would. Schemes of learning set out tier 3 subject vocabulary which is developed through students’ reading of academic texts where appropriate.  Key terms are highlighted in lessons and the importance of students using the correct terms is stressed, especially when naming pieces of apparatus in longer written responses and their uses.

Our SEND learners are also kept at the forefront of our curriculum.  It is vital that all learners’ needs are considered, and the wonder of science and our curriculum is accessible to all.  At St Ursula’s we have developed KS3 and KS4 differentiated resources at the higher and foundation tier level.  These resources are shared with all members of the department to further differentiate where required based on a student’s individual needs.   In addition to lesson resources, all assessments from Year 7 to 11 are differentiated into higher and foundation tier.   Our learning sequences are chunked into manageable amounts to reduce the cognitive load for this group of students.   Students are tiered in science which means that students are able to work at a suitable pace that enables them to have the time to process and to develop their substantive knowledge.  In addition to differentiated resources, there are a few cases where in discussion with the SEND department, the student is working in class with a TA learning entry level science to further reduce cognitive load and to leave St Ursula’s feeling confident in science and being able to access the curriculum.

Our science curriculum also includes, where appropriate, key teachings of the Catholic Church.  For example, when we cover human reproduction in Year 7, we include the Catholic Social Teaching principles, for example that sexual intercourse is for the purpose of procreation between a married man and woman. We also include in our curriculum, where appropriate, British Values, for example using the sexual intercourse example, we discuss that sexual intercourse doesn’t just happen between marrier men and women for the sole purpose of procreation.   Both key principles featuring in our curriculum help to support and develop our student’s faith and citizenship.  There are a variety of other topics where we explore science and faith, including in Year 7 Biology (Alcohol and Drugs), Year 8 Physics (The Big Bang Theory), Year 10/11 Biology (Cloning and IVF).

Key Stage 3

Our Key Stage 3 curriculum is broad and further develops upon the knowledge and skills that are delivered on the Key Stage Two national curriculum.  At St Ursula’s we feel that it is very important to begin Year 7 with a key skills unit.  This unit is delivered in the first few weeks of Year 7 and covers ideas such as, laboratory safety, reading for information, graph drawing and drawing conclusions from data.  This is the value of Science in being able to use empirical thinking and how the student’s disciplinary knowledge develops from apprenticeship to mastery from Year 7 to Year 11. We then teach the core foundations of Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  The topics have been grouped to coincide with the groupings of GCSE Triple and Combined Science.  This is to provide a swift transition from Key Stage 3 into Key Stage 4. The content selected for teaching in KS3 provides strong understanding of foundational ideas that then build into more developed schema in KS4.  

Our Biology curriculum begins in Year 7 with organisms, where students will learn about cells and movement. They then build upon this knowledge and learn about multicellular organisms and the key processes that take place, including breathing and digestion.  This then leads onto variation and human reproduction.   The Biology curriculum then continues in Year 8 with ecosystems, where students explore the themes of interdependence and plant reproduction.  They then move onto evolution and inheritance and then finish with respiration and photosynthesis.    Students at St Ursula’s begin their GCSE studies in Year 9 and will build upon their foundational disciplinary knowledge.  Students will be learning about more complex components of cell biology (B1), organisation (B2), infection and response (B3), bioenergetics (B4), homeostasis and response (B5), inheritance, variation and evolution (B6) and Ecology (B7).

Our Chemistry curriculum begins in Year 7 with exploring the particle model and how mixtures can be separated.  The students then move on to study the elements and the Periodic Table, concluding with the topic of the Planet Earth, Rock Cycles and Space.  The Chemistry curriculum then continues in Year 8 with exploring different types of reactions, acids and alkalis, as well as metals and non-metals.  Students then move onto learn about types of reactions and chemical energy.  Our Year 8 Chemistry curriculum concludes with the topic of climate and how humans use the Earth’s resources.  This provides the foundational disciplinary knowledge for our students to the move into the mastery level at KS4 for Chemistry, where they will learn about Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table (C1), Bonding, Structure and Properties of Matter (C2), Quantitative Chemistry (C3), Chemical Changes (C4), Energy Changes (C5), The Rate and Extent of Chemical Change (C6), Organic Chemistry (C7), Chemical Analysis (C8), Chemistry of the Atmosphere (C9) and Using Resources (C10).

Our Physics curriculum begins in Year 7 with exploring energy, energy costs, transfers and heating and cooling.  Students will then learn about waves, focusing on sound and light. Our Year 8 Physics curriculum begins with students learning about wave effects and wave properties.  Students then move onto the topic of forces, exploring the ideas of speed and gravity, as well as contact forces and pressure.  Our Year 8 Physics curriculum concludes with electromagnets, exploring potential difference, resistance, current, magnetism and electromagnets. This provides the foundational disciplinary knowledge for our students to the move into the mastery level at KS4 for Physics, where they will learn deeper and more complex knowledge about Energy (P1), Electricity (P2), Particle Model of Matter (P3), Atomic Structure (P4), Forces (P5), Waves (P6), Magnetism and Electromagnetism (P7) and Space Physics (P8, Triple Science students only).

Links to curriculum maps:

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Websites used to stretch student learning

Homework at Key stage 3 is set mainly through the use of evidence based websites such as: