Attainment Outcomes, Strands & Targets explained
Background for S1-S7 Primary Teachers

1. The Science programme is described in terms of three ATTAINMENT OUTCOMES (the term used in the original guidelines was Key Feature) - Earth and Space, Energy and Forces and Living Things and the Processes of Life. These main areas of learning encompass knowledge and understanding, skills and developing informed attitudes. Lessons and resources related to these Outcomes are colour coded as shown below.

Earth &
  Energy & Forces   Living Things & the
Processes of Life

2. Each of the three Attainment Outcomes has three STRANDS , each of which reflects the ‘big idea’ in each of the major areas of scientific investigation.

3. The Strands are described and exemplified by ATTAINMENT TARGETS which represent ‘areas of knowledge’. The attainment targets are shown at Level A to Level F.

See Strands & Targets in the 5-14 Guide for Teachers & Managers.

(main area of scientific investigation)

Attainment Strand

Attainment Target
(area of knowledge)

4. The Curricular structure is outlined below:-

Attainment Outcome

Attainment Strand 
Earth and Space Earth in Space
Materials from Earth
Changing Materials
Energy and Forces Properties and uses of energy
Conversion and transfer of energy
Forces and their effects
Living Things and
the Processes of Life
Variety and characteristic features
The processes of life

Interaction of living things with their environment

5. It is important to recognise that the Attainment Targets are not precise and finite but represent an area of content coverage which can be further described and developed using learning outcomes. This has been addressed in the examples of teaching resources e.g. from Renfrew by describing what the pupils should learn through the development of the lesson and specific learning outcomes.

6. Investigations occur in many areas of the curriculum but have a particular significance in science due to the nature of the practical activity that is involved.

SKILLS in SCIENCE for Investigating described at Level A to Level F and have been grouped into the THREE strands outlined below :-

Preparing for tasks

understanding the task and planning a practical activity

undertaking fair testing
Carrying out tasks observing and measuring
recording findings in a variety of ways
Reviewing and reporting on tasks reporting and presenting
interpreting and evaluating results and processes
See also  How to carry out investigations in the classroom 

7. Attainment Targets have been grouped at six LEVELS OF ATTAINMENT, based on the following description of levels. Note these are also colour coded with those shown in the 5-14 Guide for Teachers & Managers. Click on the Level letters A to F to see the Attainment targets for each of these levels :-


Attainable by
A Almost all pupils by P1 – P3
B Some pupils in P3, and most by P4
C Most pupils by P4 - P6
D Some pupils by P5 - P6, and most by P7
E Some pupils by P7 - S1 and most by S2

In part by some pupils and completed by a few by S2

8. The revised format has been designed as a development of the style that teachers have been using for the past few years with the existing science programme, but differs from the primary format in that it is also similar to an arrangements type document. It has, however, been changed to take account of the advice in the Revised Guidelines on levels of attainment, progression and continuity.

The useful advice presented in the Guide for Teachers and Managers has
also been incorporated into the programme and each attainment target is cross referenced to the relevant Lesson to allow a more complete interpretation to be made if required.

It is the objective of the programme that teacher time can be saved by not having to research two sets of guidelines but can confidently use the programme as a single source of advice. which has the flexibility to be adapted and developed to take account of local needs.

9. Account has been taken of the advice in the guidelines to ensure, progression, continuity and coherence hence; For each year, the curriculum is made up of two Groups of Study (linked groups of attainment targets) from each of the three Attainment Outcomes (main areas of scientific investigation), giving a total of six units per year :-

each Group of Study has the Attainment Strands (big ideas) clearly identified and has no more than two strands per unit each Attainment Target (area of knowledge) is described on a single page

10. The page layout ensures that all the relevant information relating to a specific attainment target is displayed on a single web page. Shown below is an example header with an explanation of each of the relevant sections. Further resources, worksheets etc. will be linked from such pages as the information becomes available.

Energy & Forces    Properties & uses of energy

Primary 5 Light & Sound

Link to Programme of Study 

Group 2 L1  L2  L3  L4  L5  L6
Level D Describe in simple terms how lenses work Convex lenses cause light rays to converge (come together).
Concave lenses cause light rays to diverge (spread out).
The thicker the lens, the greater the change in the direction of the light ray.

Attainment Outcome    Attainment Strand

Primary Stage Title of Group

 a group of related attainment targets

Link to Programme of Study 


Link to Curricular

Group No.
L1  L2  L3  L4  L5  L6
Links to other Lessons in this Group
Level of Attainment
A - F

(colour coded)

What pupils should
learn and/or
an explanation of Attainment Target.
for  linking the last Lesson in a Group to the first Lesson in the next Group taught within any Strand. 
links back to the last lesson.

of lesson

(advice as to how children may achieve an understanding of what should be learned from the attainment target)

Activity Suggested ways of carrying out activity link to specific additional info for this activity in Teacher' Guide
link to specific additional info for this activity  in Teacher' Guide.
1 Explore what happens when objects are observed through lenses.
2 Using battery operated ray boxes and plastic lenses investigate the effect of passing light rays through lenses of different shapes.
Teacher should provide and discuss the names of the different types of lenses. i.e. convex and concave. Results should be recorded as annotated diagrams.
(Resources required to teach target in the suggested manner)
Ray box,
convex lenses
concave lenses
white paper.
(reference to Assessment file being developed)
(major focus for skills)
AP5/8 Carrying out tasks
(Ginn Science resources, useful web pages, TV program examples and links to other areas of interest)
BP Contents Box - "Offshore" - Technology
Teacher's Guide