Progression in School Science 11-16

As a school teacher one of the most depressing comments I would occasionally hear from my students would be “we’ve done this before”, followed by a bored resignation to draw animal and plant cells for the umpteenth time. And on reflection they would be invariably right.
Despite various specification changes and the re-writing of schemes of work (again), there would inevitably be topics that had to be returned to, often because of the patchy delivery of science in the pre-secondary school age groups, where emphasis has been on the teaching of Maths and English.
Recently there has been renewed interest in the development of the spiral curriculum in Key Stages 3 and 4. The new AQA Key Stage 3 Science Syllabus has really been designed to encourage progression through the Key Stage and subsequent GCSE courses. I have used the planning processes involved in the AQA course as a framework for my Key Stage 3 series of videos.
The AQA Syllabus divides the Key Stage 3 content into ten ‘Big Ideas’. Each Big Idea topic is then sub-divided further into four smaller topics that build in complexity. For example, the ‘Reactions’ Big Idea introduces the more simple concrete topics of ‘Metals and non-metals’ and ‘Acids and Alkalis’ and then leads into the more abstract ones of ‘Chemical energy’ and ‘Types of reaction’. Through this approach repetition is avoided, and scientific skills are developed.
Throughout my video course I have maintained these content and skill developments, and have used the AQA approach of two ‘Year 7’ topics and two ‘Year 8’ topics within each Big Idea.
The Mastery Science group ( has taken the AQA KS3 Science Syllabus to the next level, and are now developing materials for the 5-year curriculum plan – much material here for a future blog!

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