National Curriculum: Science
Outlined in March 1985 (Science 5-16: A statement of policy DES), one intention of the National Curriculum was that all students aged 5 to 16 learn science – so there should be ‘Science for All’ in primary and secondary level education. The science taught should include both the ‘methods of science’ and the acquisition of ‘knowledge and understanding’ of ‘facts and principles’, and should be ‘broad and balanced’. It is from this that the structure of the National Curriculum for science emerged and has been adapted ever since. Science was identified from the start as a ‘Core’ subject alongside English and mathematics.
The Education Reform Act 1988 outlined the form this policy would take and introduced Key Stages (periods of school education); Attainment Targets (AT) (the knowledge skills and understanding which pupils of different abilities and maturities are expected to have by the end of each Key Stage) and Programmes of Study (PoS)(“the matters, skills and processes which are required to be taught to pupils of different abilities and maturities during each key stage”). Whilst there have been changes, these general structures have largely been maintained. In terms of assessment it was proposed that there would be summative assessments made at or near the end of the keystage alongside teachers’ own assessment; and these took the form of standard assessment tasks (SATs), or other external examinations such as GCSEs.
Overview of changes and developments
Science in the National Curriculum (1989)
• The first National Curriculum for Science
• 17 ATs – with statements of attainment for each of 10 levels
Science in the National Curriculum (1991)
• Reduction to four ATs
Science in the National Curriculum (1995)
• 10 levels become eight, plus exceptional performance
Science: The National Curriculum for England (1999)
• ‘Importance of Science’ statement introduced
• Inclusion of ‘Ideas and Evidence in Science’ into ‘Scientific Enquiry
Science: The National Curriculum for England (Revised 2004)
• Changes to Key Stage Four only – much less specification and ‘How Science Works’ given greater importance
Science: The Programme of Study for Key Stage Three and attainment targets (2007) Science: The Programme of Study for Key Stage Four (2007)
• Key Stage Three structure changed to include Key Concepts, Key Processes, Range and Content, and Curriculum Opportunities
• No changes to Key Stages One, Two or Four
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