Aim: To improve pupil engagement in Science and increase the uptake of Science A Level subjects.
Background: Students at OPGS were achieving good results in their GCSEs, however uptake at A Level was not as high as it should have been, particularly in Chemistry. Student surveys showed that Key Stage 4 students were bored with content-driven lessons and the lack of practical work. Teaching was graded as at least Good across the department, but there was little integration between Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
Year 1: A Level students held mentoring sessions with A/B borderline students in Year 11 in order to raise attainment. Heads of subject completed regular learning walks, giving feedback and suggesting areas for improvement. Teachers became more welcoming of lesson observations and the department started to share good practice.
Year 2: In 2013 OPGS moved from Edexcel GCSE to Cambridge IGCSE. Although the course was more challenging, it was felt it prepared the students better for AS Level Science. At Key Stage 3 a new project-based programme of study was created. This new programme focused on skills (practical, literacy and numeracy), rather than being content driven, allowing students to become confident and resilient young scientists who had a love of learning and a thirst for knowledge. An exciting timetable of enrichment activities was also designed, allowing students to experience many aspects of science outside the classroom.
Year 3: Year 9-10 high achieving students were given extension activities allowing them to work beyond the Key Stage 4 curriculum. Homework menus were created and files are kept by each student, allowing teachers to review progress of independent learning throughout the year.
A weekly Key Stage 3 Science Club was held allowing students to take part in regular competitions. Enrichment days, activities and trips were extremely successful with all members of the department becoming involved. The Science department completed an action research project ‘Improving Year 11 engagement’ and trialled several new active learning strategies.
Evidence: Learning walks, work scrutiny, student progress tracking.
Impact: Progress across Key Stage 3 was at least Good for all students. Year 10 progress was at least Good for most students and intervention strategies were put in place for ‘at risk’ and ‘marginal gains’ students. Year 11 student surveys showed that active learning had a positive impact and predictions for 2015 GCSE results were extremely encouraging.
Reflections: There is still work to be done to improve the uptake of Sciences at A Level and we will be continuing to encourage our high achieving students to extend their knowledge through independent projects set on a regular basis.
Teaching and learning have been transformed across the Science department. Teachers from Biology, Chemistry and Physics work together on department initiatives. Key Stage 3 has been an overwhelming success and there is a ‘buzz’ in the department when Year 7 and Year 8 lessons are being taught.
Contact: Cindy Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org