The Science curriculum at ContinU Plus Academy is taught by Robert Aimes. KS3 students receive two lessons each week. Robert also has responsibility for delivery of Science to KS4 students, who receive three lessons per week. Robert is in his fourth year of teaching and has experience of delivering Science and Geography in mainstream and alternative provision settings. He is a Team-Teach Tutor and has co-ordinated the external provision programme at the CPA between July 2014 and February 2015.
Science is a key subject in helping develop student confidence within the CPA. Students at KS3 generally arrive at CPA with little to no prior experience of working in a laboratory and conducting practical investigations. This can be attributed to the nature of our students and the problems they have faced. Many have previously been deemed unsafe to be working with potentially hazardous scientific equipment. It is our view that everybody gets the opportunity to develop their practical skills in Science regardless of his or her previous experience.
At KS3, the students follow thematic based schemes of work as part of the Linked Learning Curriculum. This emphasises the use of a ‘key, which is incorporated within the entire scheme. For example, during the autumn term of the current academic year, the focus has been on ‘collaboration’ and how ‘together everyone achieves more’. This allowed for an investigative approach to the topic, with students conducting experiments to explore chemical interactions such as the way global warming affects our planet. This initial topic was also important for the development of safety awareness in the laboratory and how the students can reduce risk by considering the way they behave.
At KS4 the students follow the AQA GCSE Science B syllabus. This course highlights the way in which science is used to benefit us in our everyday lives. In particular they learn about some of the Science used by people working in specific science-based occupations in order to help us maintain and improve our quality of life. This application of the subject to reality makes it more meaningful and helps to motivate the students into understanding why science is essential. The course is broken into 4 units with the first 3 units each being assessed by a written hour paper. Unit 4 is a controlled assessment, which focuses on the investigative ability of the students. Progress is closely monitored as an ongoing process and is assessed on a half termly basis in line with the school assessment calendar.
Currently CPA has 3 teaching groups in years 10 and 11 and two teaching groups at Key Stage 3 with groups comprising between 6 and 8 students. We find that many students have for a variety of reasons, developed ‘gaps’ in their scientific knowledge which can easily block them from making further progress and can lead to a negative view of the subject. We therefore consider it vital to develop methods of early identification and support (through assessment, learning conversations and 1:1 support) in order to address this and hopefully change perceptions and develop confidence.
We consider the Science department to be forward thinking, cohesive and dynamic and we are committed to raising standards and streamlining practice. We recognise the need to prepare young people for the world of work and so strive to make our teaching styles relevant and accessible.