Removing barriers to science
How can we remove barriers to learning in science? This is a challenging question as barriers can vary from pupil to pupils within a class and from school to school. However, I shall try to address two common barriers in this blog.
Firstly, data and progress.
Science in some respects can be a difficult subject to ensure progress within units across each key stage. I say this because while we build on children’s ability to work scientifically throughout the year, we will teach them units such as sound and they wont be revisited again for another couple of years, and most likely by a different member of staff.
Therefore it is importance we capture not only a summative assessment of children’s scientific attainment at the end of the year but also how they perform within each unit. Before we start a new unit we also need to assess children’s knowledge and understanding.
I always do this during the last week of term, often the last lesson so that it can inform my planning for the next half term. This ensures that we are planning from where children are at rather than just addressing the content allocated to the year group.
As I will most likely not teach the children the units again, I always conduct my assessments ¾ of the way through the half-term as this gives me time to address any misconceptions and/or stretch them further before the unit concludes.
Secondly, literacy skills as a barrier.
Children whose vocabulary skills fall below the expected level for their age can often be lost in science lessons due to the language being used. To address this I would do pre-teach sessions with these pupils where we would explore the vocabulary before the session so that they would have an understanding of key scientific vocabulary used.
If you are lucky enough to have a TA supporting your class they could do this during the plenary ready for the following session. We also introduce new vocabulary each session, where needed, and build mind maps to show children’s understanding.
I have known many excellent science pupils who have not enjoyed writing and as a result their science books often didn’t reflect their excellent knowledge and skills. As a result I always ensure that when planning I only get children to write when they need to and it has a scientific purpose. For example if I have told children what equipment they are using for an investigation, I wouldn’t get them to be copying it out.
Their books reflect what they have done and their input and knowledge (particularly in KS2 when they should be leading their own investigations). I use observation record to capture scientific talk that I observe (this can easily be done on a post-it). For some children I may support the writing process in the style of a guided group activity or provide templates to allow them to focus on the scientific skills rather than the literacy ones.
Gaining help with science
Teacher’s pet is launching its own creative, science project known as CREATE SCIENCE. Whilst it is still in early stages, certain year groups and lesson plans are available to download now. They support you with teaching ideas, activities and lots more. Keep an eye on our social media channels for news and updates regarding their release – or contact us!