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Planning for Science  Teaching, Learning & Assessing Science Strands & Targets Specific Issues in Science Resources
Interactive Guidelines - Introduction
Background Key considerations  Reviewing current practice

Issues to consider when reviewing science programmes


The aim of this Guide for Teachers and Managers 5-14: Science is to provide practical advice and exemplification to accompany the National Guidelines Environmental Studies 5-14.

The Guide for Teachers and Managers is a working document offering advice on how to address various aspects of the environmental studies national guidelines. In other words, the guidelines provide the 'what' of the curriculum: the guide offers advice on the 'how'. This guide for science sets out some examples of practice that have been found to be effective in different classroom or school contexts. It also exemplifies the kinds of learning activities that are appropriate in developing knowledge and understanding, skills and informed attitudes. These are intended to allow schools to use the illustrated ideas and strategies or to develop approaches to suit their own particular circumstances. They are not to be regarded as prescriptive or definitive answers to all the issues involved in implementing Environmental Studies 5-14.

Further advice and support to local authorities and schools will be developed in the future by Learning and Teaching Scotland and as a result of the Scottish Executive Science Strategy.


Key considerations

The revised guidelines are designed to be sufficiently flexible to be used in all school contexts across Scotland. They emphasise the importance of certain key considerations that should underpin all planning, teaching and assessment across the components of environmental studies. These can be summarised as follows :-

The approach to planning and assessment should be as simple and streamlined as possible. Strands should be the main organisational features for planning. A focused and manageable approach should be developed towards the assessment of skills and knowledge and understanding.
There should be a clear focus on the development of pupils' understanding to complement their growing knowledge. The attainment targets are intended to indicate a 'learning path' through the levels and to illustrate pupil attainment. Pupil attainment should be reported in a way that aids progression in science. This is particularly important at the P7 to S1 transition stage.

Reviewing current practice

The guide is intended to support schools and teachers as they review existing provision for science. Schools will need to give careful consideration to the extent to which they may have to amend programmes in line with the advice contained within the revised guidelines. Reviewing existing practice is the first step in the process so that staff can decide what changes if any may be needed. It will be important that this first step starts from existing courses or topics: there is no need in science to start with a clean sheet. Many schools will already have robust programmes in place. The revised guidelines are based on the previous guidelines and on good practice, therefore any gaps or overlaps identified are likely to be quite small. This means that much of existing practice, resources and programmes of work is still relevant.

However, some changes are likely to be required in certain aspects of planning, teaching, assessment or reporting.

Issues to consider when reviewing science programmes include:
  • removing old strand titles in programme plans and reporting formats
  • realigning some aspects of content to match particular levels
  • avoiding repetition of specific content from primary to secondary (although revisiting a particular topic to develop deeper understanding and aid progression may be worthwhile)
  • identifying within existing programmes content that is no longer required and making decisions about whether or not it should be removed (it might not be necessary to remove content if it is felt that it enhances learning or provides additional challenge)
  • devising a manageable approach to the assessment of skills and knowledge and understanding
  • ensuring an appropriate range of opportunities for the development of informed attitudes across the three science outcomes
  • ensuring an appropriate range of opportunities for pupils to engage in practical activities that allow them to develop their skills in investigative contexts.

When decisions have been reached on the amendments required, it will be important to plan for these carefully by ensuring that existing strengths are maintained, and by identifying timescales for amendments within the school development plan.

Planning for Science  Teaching, Learning & Assessing Science Strands & Targets Specific Issues in Science Resources

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