Our science curriculum, Primary Science Scheme of Work, is in line with research from the worlds of science education and cognitive science to ensure it meets the requirements of the National Curriculum.

The national curriculum for science aims to ensure that all pupils:

  • develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics
  • develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of science enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
  • are equipped with the scientific knowledge required to understand the uses and implications of science, today and for the future

In line with the aims of the National Curriculum, this scheme of work gives pupils the opportunity to learn about the products of science so that they can explain the material world and ‘develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena’ (National Curriculum). Pupils also learn about the practices of science so that they know how scientific knowledge becomes established through scientific enquiry. Pupils will combine these two distinct types of knowledge to ensure their substantive and disciplinary knowledge are building with context and purpose.

Knowledge and skills have been carefully sequenced across units and years because we know that, ‘when knowledge is well structured, it becomes meaningful, flexible and easier to access. This knowledge can then be used to solve complex, and interesting, scientific problems without overloading working memory’ (Ofsted research review series: science). Therefore, sequential component knowledge is clearly broken down into steps and composite tasks outlined through which pupils will embed that knowledge. Although they are taught together, there is clarity about which knowledge is disciplinary and which is substantive.

Revisiting prior learning and carrying out retrieval practice is an important aspect of learning and support pupils to commit their knowledge to their long-term memory.



‘In science, pupils need their knowledge to be organised around the most important scientific concepts, which predict and explain the largest number of phenomena’ (Ofsted research review series: science). Therefore, within this scheme, ten big ideas have been identified, underpinned by key concepts. As they move through this scheme of work, pupils build comprehensive schemata for each of these big ideas so that new knowledge connects with prior knowledge and can be committed to the long-term memory.

The distinction between substantive and disciplinary knowledge and ensures that pupils use these side by side to develop expertise, apply and make sense of the knowledge learnt and understand how the knowledge developed and became accepted:

  • substantive knowledge (knowledge of the products of science, such as concepts, laws, theories and models): this is referred to as scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding in the national curriculum
  • disciplinary knowledge (knowledge of how scientific knowledge is generated and grows): this is specified in the ‘working scientifically’ sections of the national curriculum and it includes knowing how to carry out practical procedures

Acquiring disciplinary knowledge goes beyond practical work. Alongside the opportunity to work scientifically, pupils need to understand the concepts and procedures that scientists use to develop understanding and explanations and seek truth. Therefore, the disciplinary knowledge that will be covered in this scheme of work is:

  • knowledge of methods that scientists use to answer questions
  • knowledge of apparatus and techniques, including measurement
  • knowledge of data analysis
  • knowledge of how science uses evidence to develop explanations

Combining the substantive and disciplinary knowledge helps pupils to secure conceptual understanding which they can then transfer to procedural knowledge through application.

Teacher subject knowledge is key to ensuring that pupils build solid scientific understanding and, to this end, this scheme of work comes with teacher knowledge organisers which outline essential substantive and disciplinary knowledge for each unit of work.

Pupils learn best when teachers have identified and prepared for common misconceptions in science because these can form barriers to learning. Common misconceptions are therefore identified for each unit within this scheme of work. It is important to remember that, if a misconception is challenged too early, before pupils have a scientific conception…they may mistakenly identify the misconception as factually correct information’ (Ofsted research review series: science). To avoid this, pupils’ knowledge should be built incrementally and greater time should be spent on those concepts where misconceptions are likely to be held.

A range of practical activities have been carefully thought about to ensure that they are designed to help pupils learn substantive or disciplinary knowledge. Where the aim of the lesson is for pupils to understand a concept, the learning activity has been focused on the development of understanding about this concept. There may also be times when the activity itself may be the goal e.g. learning how to use a thermometer. Time should also be dedicated before and after the practical work to interpret and explain.

Our high-quality science curriculum has the following features:

  • Activities are carefully chosen so that they match specific curriculum intent.
  • Teachers use systematic teaching approaches, where learning is scaffolded using carefully sequenced explanations, models, analogies and other representations to help pupils to acquire, organise and remember scientific knowledge.
  • Teaching takes account of the limited working-memory capacity of their pupils when planning lessons.
  • Pupils are not expected to arrive at scientific explanations by themselves without sufficient prior knowledge.
  • Systematic approaches, alongside carefully selected texts, are used to teach the most important vocabulary in science.
  • Pupils have regular opportunities in the early years and primary classrooms to learn vocabulary through story and non-fiction books, rhymes, songs and oral rehearsal.



The impact of our science curriculum will be:

  • Learners develop detailed knowledge and skills across the curriculum
  • Learners are ready for the next stage of education

The curriculum has been designed to be a progression model. By planning knowledge and skills that builds incrementally and sequentially, supporting pupils to make connections and links between knowledge and, therefore, commit it to their long-term memories. This means that by mapping carefully sequenced, clear essential knowledge, ensuring components build towards composite end points and identifying concepts in line with schema theory, the curriculum is structured so that pupils learn the content.

Ongoing formative assessment is key to helping teachers identify where whole classes or individuals need to revisit learning or misconceptions need to be addressed. Regularly revisiting prior learning is also key to supporting pupils to make links.

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Science Curriculum overview 16th Apr 2024 Download