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Science

In Science, teaching aims to build upon a child’s natural curiosity about the world around us and seeks to further knowledge and understanding in ways that stimulate interest and enjoyment both at present and in the future, at all levels of ability.  An inquiry-based, practical approach is taken towards Science learning from Reception all the way up to Year 8. Pupils are progressively supported in how to ask questions, think critically and report their work like a scientist. By the time they are in Year 8, pupils ask and address pertinent questions, independently or collaboratively plan and carry out their own experiments and produce write-ups that are of a very high quality. Peer- and self-assessment as well as summative topic tests are the main approaches used to support pupils in becoming reflective learners.  From early on, technology is used in most lessons, whether this is through the use of Chromebooks to collaborate on project work, iPads to connect to data loggers or Science education apps, or using laptops to write-up experiments.

From the very beginning, in their specialist Science lessons in the Junior School, boys are given time to observe small things, to pull things apart in order to find out how they work and to ask endless questions. They are then encouraged to think about what they expect the answer might be and to consider the range of possible solutions.  They are supported in carrying out investigations which may provide the answers or raise more questions.  During science lessons, teaching aims to channel the boys’ natural curiosity through practical means, by doing things.  The boys are supported in using a wide range of simple equipment, in developing a range of practical skills (for example being able to measure accurately) and increasingly, in developing a set of specific academic skills, such as collecting and recording data and displaying results.  Boys learn to use a framework to help them draw conclusions from their results and present them in a form that can be shared with other people.

From Year 4 onwards, Science takes place in one of our three labs and pupils learn the curriculum through practical work wherever possible. In the Middle School and Senior Schools, pupils are encouraged to be creative with project work and to produce high-quality independent and collaborative pieces, using a variety of different media. The ultimate aim is to support pupils in developing their learning ‘acumen,’ which we define as displaying four characteristics: ‘resilience, resourcefulness, reflectivity and responsibility.’ Honing these four strengths will springboard our pupils into a lifelong love of Science learning and ensure that they are equipped with the skills they need to be successful scientists in the 21st Century.

At the start of their time in the Junior School the boys raise and answer questions related to life processes, to ‘habitats’ and local environments, to a variety of plants and animals and their interdependence, at all times being encouraged to work scientifically by sorting and classifying things and recording their findings using charts. In subsequent years boys investigate aspects of biology in learning about ‘Ourselves’ and simple physics & chemistry are approached through a study of Materials for example, over several occasions during their time in the Junior School.  ‘Light’ is investigated and during studies of forces, boys compare how things move on different surfaces and how magnetic forces can act at a distance.  In the Middle School, pupils continue to investigate energy, movement and forces, material behaviour, life and living things and the environment, Earth and the solar system; at all stages boys are encouraged to ask questions and pursue a ‘route to enquiry’.  In the Senior School, boys’ understanding of scientific concepts is deepened even further as they look into aspects of energy, electricity and forces, chemical and material behaviour, oganisms, behaviour and health and the environment, Earth and universe.  A range of intellectual, practical and graphical skills is refined in increasing depth as boys get older, including methods of observation and measurement, information selection, analysis and problem solving; often fieldwork is used to teach these skills.

Middle and Senior School boys are afforded the opportunity to explore the curriculum in a less formal manner, through participation in a weekly Science Club, during which a challenging task is set for the boys to test and explore during an hour. In most year groups, pupils’ learning is supported through Science field trips; in Year 4 pupils go to the Science Museum to bring to life their Earth, Sun and Moon topic; in Year 5, pupils go to ZSL London Zoo to study animal adaptations; in Year 6 pupils visit Centre of the Cell to learn more about cells and circulation; in Year 7 pupils visit the Royal Institute to see Faraday’s Museum and watch a lecture; in Year 8 pupils visit Hampstead Heath to practice essential sampling techniques and use data loggers. A small number of Year 8 pupils also attend a day of Science lectures at Highgate School.  Other opportunities such at the National Science Quiz and the UK Space Design Competition offer boys opportunities for further enrichment of their Science learning.