SECONDARY SCHOOL SCIENCE
The aim of this blog page is to make everyone aware of the approximate timetable of events should your son/daughter wish to follow a career in science. Anything worthwhile requires commitment and you should note the dedication required by all.
Primary school science is taught, at best, poorly because the vast majority of primary school teachers, more often than not, have a humanities degree without any sort of science background. The knowledge of those that left with a science A-level is probably well out of date thanks to the brilliant work done by so many scientists all around the world. As a result, it would not be surprising if, after having recently introduced significant changes to the maths/numeracy and English/literacy curricula, the Government deem it necessary to intervene in the science curricula at primary and secondary levels. Who knows, maybe the Brexit vote has already triggered this thought?
Parents with secondary school-age students may find it interesting to have a brief explanation about the major task facing secondary school students and their science teachers. Apart from correcting fallacies, such as ‘… gravity being a force …’ or ‘… hot air rises …’, they have to enthuse students with their favourite subject. For many years science was considered a ‘boys only’ subject; but now, science teachers are actively promoting the concept that science is also ‘for girls’.
If your son/daughter has just moved to secondary school they have to be sorted into random groups. Unfortunately, the science SAT is teacher assessed so secondary schools will have to use some other yardstick by which to inform their decision, which may position your son/daughter incorrectly.
The three sciences are taught in modules. Typically, Year 7 students will spend their first year learning the basics of ‘physical processes’, ‘separating techniques’, ‘electricity’, etc. By the end of this year each of the six modules will have been formally assessed to provide the first opportunity to re-evaluate each student’s ability. This starts the process of formally organising students into their correct sets.
If you believe your son/daughter was, initially, in the wrong set they need to score well on each assessment.
Formal assessments continue the refining process, but based on the Year 8 module set. At the end of this year, the result of two years continuous assessment, plus their teachers’ personal opinions, will determine whether your son/daughter is given the opportunity to start their GCSE Science studies by either focussing on all three sciences individually (called ‘Triple Science’) or gaining a more general understanding of science (called ‘Double Science’).
Whilst it is possible to transfer between Triple Science and Double Science there is a potential difficulty there is a potential difficulty to take into consideration. Effectively, the same modules are taught but the order when each module is taught is dependent on the availability of equipment and the whim of the teacher(s). Therefore, if your son/daughter wants to work in a science industry it is important to follow the Triple Science route from the start.
If your son/daughter wants to study individual science(s) at A-level and beyond, they will need to gain a good pass in one or more of the Triple Sciences and mathematics.
This year is the start of the work focussed on passing GCSE science. Typically, around Christmas, final adjustment to the sets will be decided following a specific test. Year 9 students studying Triple Science will attend more lessons than those taking Double Science. Those taking the Triple Science route could eventually achieve three individual science grades whilst those taking Double Science only two at the same grade.
By Christmas in Year 9 your son/daughter will have set themselves up to achieve their scientific aspirations. Rarely will these sets change.
Year 10 and Year 11
These years continue the work towards completing the GCSE science syllabus in whatever format has already been decided. During this time there will be further continuous assessments and those who do not keep up with the pace may find it hard to perform well in the final exams.
Remember the regime has changed; now all students get just one shot at the exam which means revision needs to start during Year 9 and continue throughout the following years whilst learning the new topics.