This document outlines the knowledge, language and concepts that should be taught in Science. It includes:

  • A summary of the Science knowledge and principles that underpin our approach
  • Long Term Sequence (curriculum map) for Science
  • Progression of Science including alignment with the National Curriculum, substantive concepts, big ideas and questions as well as Tier 2 and Tier 3 vocabulary

It is influenced by documents and research, including:



Our Science curriculum precisely follows the units outlined in the National Curriculum. It is our intention that through studying science, pupils become more expert as they progress through the curriculum, accumulating, connecting and making sense of the rich substantive and disciplinary knowledge.

1. Substantive knowledge - this is the subject knowledge and explicit vocabulary used to learn about the content. Common misconceptions are explicitly revealed as non-examples and positioned against known and accurate content. In our Science curriculum, an extensive and connected knowledge base is constructed so that pupils can use these foundations and integrate it with what they already know. Misconceptions are challenged carefully and in the context of the substantive and disciplinary knowledge. In Science, we do not introduce misconceptions too early, as pupils need to construct a mental model in which to position that new knowledge.

Substantive concepts include concrete examples, such as ‘plant’ or more abstract ideas, such as ‘biodiversity’. Concepts are taught through explicit vocabulary instruction as well as through the direct content and context of the study.

2. Disciplinary knowledge – this is knowing how to collect, use, interpret, understand and evaluate the evidence from scientific processes. This is taught. It is not assumed that pupils will acquire these skills by luck or hope. Pupils construct understanding by applying substantive knowledge to questioning and planning, observing, performing a range of tests, accurately measuring, comparing through identifying and classifying, using observations and gathering data to help answer questions, explaining and reporting, predicting, concluding, improving, and seeking patterns. We call it ‘Working Scientifically.’ We map Working Scientifically coverage to check the balance of provision in KS1, Lower and Upper KS2.

Scientific analysis is developed through IPROF criteria. We call it ‘Thinking Scientifically.’  These are mapped throughout the curriculum.

  • identifying and classifying
  • pattern seeking
  • research
  • observing over time
  • fair and comparative testing.

In Science, substantive knowledge is always present and acts as a precursor for pupils’ understanding. This will enable them to successfully apply disciplinary knowledge.  In KS2 Science, we have defined these terms:

  • variable - the things that can change in a science experiment
  • independent variable - the variable that is changed by the scientist
  • dependent variables - are the things that the scientist watches closely for to see how they respond to the change made to the independent variable
  • controlled variables - the things that a scientist wants to remain the same and not change so they can see how the independent variable reacts

These give structure to working and thinking scientifically tasks in relation to the substantive knowledge taught in that specific study.  “what scientists observe, or choose to control in an experiment, depends on what they know. For example, classifying flowering plants scientifically requires knowledge of floral parts to place specimens in appropriate groups. However, classifying insects requires knowledge of body parts.”  Ofsted Research Series: Science, 2021.

Science is planned so that the retention of knowledge is much more than just ‘in the moment knowledge’. The cumulative nature of the curriculum is made memorable by the implementation of Bjork’s desirable difficulties, including retrieval and spaced retrieval practice, word building and deliberate practice tasks. This powerful interrelationship between structure and research-led practice is designed to increase substantive knowledge and accelerate learning within and between study modules. That means the foundational knowledge of the curriculum is positioned to ease the load on the working memory: new content is connected to prior learning. The effect of this cumulative model supports opportunities for children to associate and connect significant scientific concepts, over time, and with increasing expertise and knowledge.

Science is organised into three distinct subject domains: biology, physics and chemistry. Where inter-disciplinary concepts are encountered, such as the particle model, these are taught explicitly and connected across science domains.

Our Science curriculum has sequenced the national curriculum into meaningful and connected ‘chunks’ of content to reduce the load on the working memory as well as creating coherent and strong long-term memories. The sequence of substantive and disciplinary knowledge enables pupils to become ‘more expert’ with each study and grow an ever broadening and coherent mental model of the subject. This guards against superficial, disconnected and fragmented scientific knowledge and weak disciplinary knowledge. High frequency, multiple meaning words (Tier 2) are taught explicitly and help make sense of subject specific words (Tier 3). Each learning module in science has a vocabulary module with teacher guidance, tasks and resources to enhance and deepen understanding.

Our Science curriculum deliberately pays attention and values the importance of subject content as well as the context it is taught in. Common scientific misconceptions are identified in all learning modules. These misconceptions are made explicit to pupils. Children draw upon substantive and disciplinary knowledge to reason and practise acquiring the conception, whilst repelling the misconceptions. Examples and non-examples are powerful ways of saying what something is and what something isn’t.

Our Science curriculum values the study of scientists from the past. These studies help us to learn how they used, at that time, their substantive and disciplinary knowledge to develop a conception. This illuminates how misconceptions can permeate substantive knowledge and appear to be a known truth. An example of this is the study of Maria Merion in Year 5, who was born in Germany in 1667. She observed and drew insects going through biochemical metamorphosis. She challenged the misconception that all insects were evil, born from mud and were the work of the devil.

Further examples of contextual misconceptions and refinement of conceptions can be seen in the study of Galen’s views about blood circulation in AD 157 and William Harvey’s findings in 1602.


Progression Overview

Early Years

Nursery and Reception also have wonderful outdoor areas to support their learning which the children access daily during continuous provision.  All these areas are regularly used to develop the children’s Science skills and knowledge of plantsanimals and habitats. In the Early Years, practitioners regularly provide new materials and interesting things for children to explore and investigate and encourage children to talk about them. Our skilled staff interact effectively with the children to encourage them to use their senses to explore the natural worldmaterials and forces. Our curriculum in the Foundation Stage is carefully planned to ensure the children have the knowledge and skills to excel in Science in Key Stage 1.

Key Stage 1

Pupils study the Seasons and develop an early conceptual understanding of how day becomes night. An understanding of change, over time connects to the study of Plants, including trees. This focus enables children to associate trees as belonging to the plant kingdom and notice the changes deciduous trees go through connected to the seasons.  Contrasting that study, pupils learn about Animals, including humans. Non-examples of plants are used to contrast the features of an animal. Pupils are introduced to identifying and classifying materials. Scientific terms, such as transparent, translucent and opaque are taught explicitly through vocabulary instruction and pupils make further sense by applying it to what they know and then to working and thinking scientifically tasks. This substantive knowledge is enriched by pupils use of disciplinary knowledge through scientific enquiry.  To sophisticate their understanding, Year 1 pupils revisit the study Animals, including humans as a retrieval module and deepen their knowledge through revisiting and thinking hard through increasingly challenging tasks.  As pupils progress through KS1, new knowledge is integrated with pre-existing understanding. For example, in Year 2, the study of Living things and their habitats and Uses of everyday materials, engages pupils to integrate and draw upon their knowledge of Animals, including humans as well as Plants, and the study of Materials.  New substantive knowledge is constructed and made sense of through Working and Thinking scientifically tasks.

Lower Key Stage 2

The unit on Rocks is studied and connected with prior knowledge from ‘Everyday materials’ in KS1. A study of Animals, including humans is built upon from KS1 and contrasts the physical features with the functions they perform, including the skeleton and muscles. Rocks is revisited again to sophisticate and deepen pupils’ knowledge, advancing their understanding.  Forces and magnets are introduced and connect with KS1 materials, including twisting, bending and squashing. Contact and non-contact forces are taught and understanding applied through Working and Thinking Scientifically. The abstract concept of Light is made concrete through knowing about light sources and shadows. Plants are studied to develop a more sophisticated understanding of their parts and functions, including pollination. A study of Living things and their habitats pays close attention to classification and is directly taught using prior knowledge to ensure conceptual frameworks are secure. Explicit vocabulary instruction supports pupils to deconstruct words for their component meaning, for example invertebrate. Animals, plants and environments are connected in this study with a summary focusing on positive and negative change.  Electricity is introduced. Substantive knowledge is taught so that pupils acquire understanding about electrical sources, safety and components of a single loop circuit. Practical tasks give pupils the opportunity to think using disciplinary knowledge in the context of variables. Pupils make sense of what they know by testing, proving and disproving hypotheses.  Animals, including humans focuses on the sequence of digestion, from the mouth to excretion. Misconceptions, such as digestion begins in the stomach, are pre-empted, limited and represented as non-examples. States of matter and Sound are taught using knowledge of the particle theory. Acquiring substantive knowledge about ‘states’ of matter supports pupils to understand how solids, liquids and gases behave. This knowledge is connected further to geographical studies of the Water cycle and life processes. Practical scientific tasks and tests help pupils build a coherent understanding of the particle theory by applying what they know through structured scientific enquiry. Misconceptions, such as ‘liquid particles are slightly more separated than gas and less compacted than solids are addressed.

Upper Key Stage 2

In the study of Properties and changes of materials, it is important that pupils reuse and draw upon their understanding of states of matter. This prior content eases the load on the working memory to process and make sense of new knowledge, including solutions, mixtures, reversible and irreversible changes.

Change is also studied within Animals, including humans, focusing on growth and development of humans and animals.

Earth in Space develops the conceptual understanding of our place in the universe. This study unwraps misconceptions, including the Moon changing shape, the Sun moving across the sky and how seasons occur.

A study of Forces sophisticates the substantive knowledge acquired in KS1 and LKS2. New content, including air resistance and water resistance is studied. Force multipliers, such as levers are studied to understand how we can be efficient with effort. For example, a spanner with a long handle multiplies the force and makes it easier to turn a bolt than spanner with a shorter handle. Simple machines, such as pulleys are also studied as force multipliers – they move the load through a greater distance with the same energy being used. Enhancing this study of Forces, pupils learn about Galileo Galilei 1564 - 1642 (considered the father of modern science).

Living things and their habitats focuses on differences in life cycles of living things and how they reproduce. This study also contrasts previous scientific thinking. Pupils contrast how people in the past thought and constructed understanding, in the absence of scientific evidence, to explain things they didn’t understand. Maria Merion is the significant scientist studied, she observed closely and carefully drew insects undergoing biochemical metamorphosis. David Attenborough describes Maria Marion as one of the most important contributors to the field of entomology.

A further study of Living things and their habitats enables pupils in UKS2 to revisit and add to their understanding of classification through the taxonomy created by Carl Linnaeus. More complex animals are studied, including invertebrates such as Myriapods and Echinodermata (starfish and Sea urchins) as well as Arthropods such as Crustacea, Arachnids, and Insects. 

Light is revisited and taught with advanced substantive knowledge. This is physics study with a focus on the properties of light, not the biology of the eye.

The study of Animals, including humans enables pupils to add new knowledge to their mental models of biological systems. Circulation, the components of blood and the mechanism of the heart is connected to healthy living through diet and exercise. Many of these science studies are enriched and conceptual frameworks extended through the deliberate curriculum choice to study charts and graphs in Maths, food in Design Technology or reuse and retrieve substantive knowledge in other contexts, such as in writing. 

Further retrieval learning modules are deployed, so that pupil knowledge can be advanced and sophisticated to increase their depth of understanding. Electricity is enhanced with an advanced study of electrical circuits. New substantive knowledge is acquired in the context the particle theory, which was previously studied. Working and Thinking scientifically tasks help to deepen and make sense of new learning, such as the concept of electricity and the way we explain it using terms such as charge, potential difference and flow. 

Evolution and inheritance introduces two significant scientists - Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace as pioneers of scientific thinking in the field of evolution. This study draws on how misconceptions may have been arrived at to explain the past and how theories explain significant change, over time. Substantive concepts, including adaption and variation are taught explicitly through vocabulary and clarity is achieved through worked examples. This supports pupils to use this substantive knowledge in a disciplinary way.



We implement our intent using CUSP Science.   A guiding principle of CUSP Science is that each study draws upon prior learning. For example, in the EYFS, pupils may learn about The Natural World through daily activities and exploring their locality and immediate environment. This is revisited and positioned so that new and potentially abstract content in Year 1, such as Animals, including humans, is related to what children already know. This makes it easier to cognitively process. This helps to accelerate new learning as children integrate prior understanding.

Learning Sequences

We organise intended learning into modules or units. These group the knowledge, skills and understanding that we want children to remember, do and use.   Each module aims to activate and build upon prior learning, including from the early years, to ensure better cognition and retention. The skills required for working in a particular subject are outlined e.g. working scientifically. Close attention is paid to the tier 2 and tier 3 vocabulary to be taught to allow pupils to engage in the required vocabulary. They are deliberately spaced within and across years to introduce and revisit key concepts. This enables staff to deepen pupil understanding and embed learning. Each module is carefully sequenced to enable pupils to purposefully layer learning from previous sessions to facilitate the acquisition and retention of key knowledge. 

Lesson Structure

Lessons typically are split into six phases:

  • CONNECT This provides an opportunity to connect the lesson to prior learning from a previous module or lesson. Teachers return children’s attention to the previous lesson’s knowledge note/the big idea for the learning module, including key vocabulary. Examples of thinking harder routines include Flick Back 5, Recap questions, Quizzing. Retrieval practice allows all pupils to take time to remember things and activate their memories. Quizzing allows questions to be asked and allows pupils to carry out retrieval practice. Cumulative quizzing, allows for a few questions to be asked each lesson, which are built upon the previous lesson.
  • EXPLAIN This is the explicit teaching that needs to take place. Teachers should ensure they are clear what they want children to know and remember. They plan for and explicitly address common misconceptions so they can address these in lessons as they arise. They should be clear about the substantive knowledge and the vocabulary that they want children to understand in the session.  This can be developed using key information, facts, and imagesso that explanations are precise.
  • EXAMPLE Providing pupils with high-quality examples is essential for learning. Pupils need to see worked examples. My turn, our turn, your turn is a technique that can be used to explicitly teach vocabulary and new concepts.  Prepared examples should be carefully planned and need to be evident in teaching. An example in geography could be demonstrating how to label a map, before labelling a map together.
  • ATTEMPT Guiding pupil practice allows pupils to rehearse, rephrase and elaborate their learning. Children need the chance to attempt and verbalise their understanding. Children’s own attempts are what help them to secure their understanding. Children need to have time to struggle and understand for themselves. This is not necessarily something that is recorded in books. This phase provides opportunities for teachers to check in with pupils to see who may need more challenge/support/scaffolds and if any misconceptions have arisen that need to be addressed. Extending the previous geography example, pupils could practice labelling a map.
  • APPLY This is where pupils would typically begin to record in books. The number of scaffolds may vary.
  • CHALLENGE Teachers get the children to interrogate their learning - summarise, explain, compare and contrast. Tools are built into routines to reduce overload and allow for hard thinking. These can be adapted for children based on their individual needs.

Long Term Sequence

Year Group Term 1 Term 2 Term 3
Year 1

Seasonal Changes and Weather - Physics

Plants, including trees - Biology

Animals, including humans - Biology

Everyday Materials - Chemistry

Revisit Animals, including humans - Biology

Revisit Plants - Biology

Revisit Plants, Animals including humans - Biology

Year 2

Living things and their habitats - Biology

Animals, including humans - Biology

Use of everyday materials - Chemistry

Revisit Living things and their habitats - Biology

Revisit Use of Everyday Materials - Chemistry

Plants - Biology

Revisit Living things and their habitats - Biology

Revisit Plants and Animals, including humans - Biology

Year 3

Rocks - Chemistry

Animals, including humans - Biology

Revisit Rocks - Chemistry

Forces and magnets - Physics

Light - Physics

Plants - Biology

Year 4

Living things and their habitats - Biology

States of matter – Chemistry

Revisit Living things and their habitats - Biology

Animals, including humans - Biology

Sound - Physics

Electricity - Physics

Year 5

Properties and changes of materials - Chemistry

Animals, including humans - Biology

Forces (Gravity and Galileo) - Physics

Earth in space - Physics

Living things and their habitats - Biology

Forces continued - Physics

Year 6

Living things and their habitats - Biology

Light - Physics

Animals, including humans - Biology

Animals, including humans (water transport) - Biology

Electricity - Physics

Evolution and inheritance - Biology




In order to identify the impact our curriculum is having on our pupils, we check the extent to which learning has become permanently embedded in children’s long-term memory in addition to looking for excellence in their outcomes. We use four main tools to quality assure the implementation and impact of our curriculum:

  • Learning observations help to evaluate subject knowledge, explanations, expectations, opportunities to learn, pupil responses, participation and relationships.
  • Professional growth models help to improve staff subject knowledge and evidence informed practice such as retrieval and spaced practice, interleaving and explicit instruction techniques.
  • Assessment and achievement articulate the outcomes from tasks and tests, how well the content is understood and what the strengths and limitations are; it informs what to do next.
  • Pupil Book Studies help to evaluate curriculum structures, teaching methods, pupil participation and response through a dialogic model.

When undertaking these we ask the following key questions:

  • How well do pupils remember the content that they have been taught?
  • Do books and pupil discussions radiate excellence?
  • Does learning ‘travel’ with pupils and can they deliberately reuse it in more sophisticated contexts?

Teachers employ a range of strategies both at and after the point of teaching to check the impact of their teaching on the permanence of pupils’ learning. These include: retrieval practice, vocabulary use and application, deliberate practice and rephrasing of taught content, cumulative quizzing within the learning sequence, summarising and explaining the learning question from the sequence, tests and quizzes.  Teachers use information from tasks, tests, pupil book studies and other monitoring to support learning by responding to the gap between where pupils are and where they need to be.  In lessons, they adapt explanations and examples to address misconceptions and provide additional practice or challenge where required.  After lessons or tests, they analyse pupils’ responses to identify shared and individual gaps in learning and misconceptions. Teachers then adjust subsequent planned teaching in response.

We use summative assessment is ‘to provide an accurate shared meaning without becoming the model for every classroom activity’ (Christodolou, 2017). If our curriculum is effective, it will lead to improvements in summative assessments over time. Teacher assessment judgements are against an agreed assessment model (the curriculum). We make summative judgements annually. Teachers record summative judgements on OTrack.

Pupil book study is used as a method to quality assure our curriculum by talking to the children and looking in pupils’ books. We do this after content has been taught to see the extent to which pupils are knowing more, remembering more and able to do more.  In preparation, we review the planned content, knowledge and vocabulary, so that conversations with pupils are meaningful and focused on what has been taught. When looking at books, we look at the content and knowledge, teaching sequence and vocabulary. We also consider pupils’ participation and consider the explanations and models used, the tasks the pupils are asked to do, the ability to answer carefully selected questions and retrieve information and the impact of written feedback.  We ask careful questions that probe their knowledge, understanding and skills.

The Subject Leader undertakes a range of activities to understand what the curriculum looks like across the school and how well pupils know more, remember more and can do more as a result. In addition to the above tools, they use learning walks, planning reviews and book looks.  They use their findings to support teachers to improve how they implement subjects and to make recommendations about the suitability of the intent for their subject.  The Subject Leader formally reports on impact of the curriculum termly to the Curriculum Leader, Principal and Governors.