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Science Department

The Science curriculum at Wightwick Hall is designed to inspire in the pupils a sense of awe and wonder about the world around them. It equips them with the knowledge and skills required to make informed decisions and act appropriately for their wellbeing, the environment, and their wider world.

Pupils will develop their understanding of the big ideas in science through engaging topics which reference their everyday experience. 

Ultimately, the science curriculum is designed to ensure that pupils leaving Wightwick Hall feel confident enough to continue engaging with science throughout their lifetime. They will leave with a sense that science is for everyone and can be found in everything.

British Values

There is an expectation from DfE that schools promote the fundamental values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and mutual respect for and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs, and for those without faith.

Science teaching at Wightwick Hall aims to fulfil these requirements in the following ways:

Democracy – Pupils engage in a variety of activities and debates designed to develop an understand of the role democracy plays in society. Pupils engage in debates about topics such as where to place a limestone quarry, the use of GM crops or the ethics of genetic engineering.

Rule of Law – Pupils are taught the need for clear rules in the science laboratory from their first lesson. They explore why rules are important and discuss the consequences for not following those rules when working with science equipment. If pupils fail to follow the rules when completing an experiment, they complete a safety lesson which reminds them of the importance of the rules to ensure everyone’s safety. Pupils also investigate laws about speed limits, use of illegal drugs and age restricted items.

Individual liberty – Pupils are given freedom to plan their own experiments, wherever possible, and are encouraged to have confidence in sharing their findings, even if they are different to the rest of the class. They are given examples of scientists throughout history who made significant discoveries and were committed to their work, despite ridicule from the society of the time e.g., Semmelweis, Darwin, Mendel.

Mutual respect – Pupils are taught that scientific ideas can conflict with religious/ethical beliefs and embedded ideas. They are challenged to think about different views during topics such as Darwin’s theory of evolution, genetic engineering, and contraception. Pupils learn how important it is for scientists to value all opinions as part of the scientific process. As a practical subject, pupils often work in pairs/small groups with peers who have different skills. They are encouraged to recognise the strengths of each member of the group to achieve the aim of their experiment.

Cultural Capital

Science at Wightwick Hall School helps to equip pupils with the knowledge and cultural capital they need to succeed in life in a variety of ways, for example:

  • Practical lessons are modified to meet the needs of our pupils, but they are aligned with those that are delivered in a mainstream setting to enable pupils to continue with science at college.
  • Equipment used and rules followed in the lab are the same as would be found in any school laboratory.
  • Language used to discuss scientific concepts is comparable to mainstream science lessons, enabling pupils to discuss their scientific understanding with peers outside of school.
  • Pupils are encouraged to debate and form opinions about challenging topics such as genetic engineering, selective engineering, natural resources, and renewable energy.
  • Pupils are given current news articles to analyse – in 2020 we read one of the very first articles about a new ‘flu-like’ virus called Covid 19, as we were studying Health and Disease!
  • Pupils engage in an annual science fair where they plan, carry out, and present their own scientific experiment.
  • Pupils have access to reading lists in KS3 and KS4 to enable them to read around the subject for interest.
  • Pupils are encouraged to learn about important scientists through activities such as a ‘Scientist of the Month’ board.

Intent and implementation

Upon entry to the school pupils are assigned to differing science pathways based upon their overall attainment at KS2 and their specific educational needs.

Willow Class:

Teaching in Willow Class is based upon a primary model where pupils remain in the same classroom and science is delivered by the familiar class teacher and support staff. Science topics are used flexibly alongside themed learning to enhance pupils overall understanding of new concepts. Pupils are split into KS3 and KS4 classes, with each working through a scheme of work designed to meet the diverse learning needs of the group. Pupils engage in exploratory science work and make links to science in the world around them.

B-Squared Connecting Steps is used to track progress.

Hickman House:

Teaching in Hickman House is based upon a primary model and pupils remain in a specialised learning environment for each of their lessons. Science learning is highly differentiated to meet the profound and multiple learning needs of the group and all lessons are supported by specialist staff. According to ability, pupils either encounter or experience science and demonstrate their learning through worksheets and interactive activities.

B-Squared Connecting Steps is used to track progress.

Bannatyne Department Key Stage 3:

Pupils follow a 5-year curriculum which aims to develop scientific understanding and skills by introducing topics sequentially according to how conceptual understanding develops. Topics have been ordered using research and evidence by the University of York Science Education Group and are linked to the ‘Big Ideas’ in science to facilitate pupils’ linking of key scientific concepts. KS3 schemes of work link closely to Exploring Science: Working Scientifically (Edexcel) to ensure that the resources accessed, and knowledge acquired, prepare pupils well for an Edexcel qualification at KS4.

Pupils are assessed upon entry to school to establish a baseline from which a bespoke target pathway is set. Formative assessment takes place throughout each topic using a variety of resources and low-stakes challenges, whilst misconceptions are identified using diagnostic tasks and response activities. At the end of each topic, pupils are assessed using an end of topic test and results are reported against targets at the end of each term.

Bannatyne Department Key Stage 4

In key stage 4 Edexcel Entry Level Science is taught alongside Edexcel (9-1) GCSE Combined Science. Practical work and a focus on the scientific method are an integral part of the curriculum. This not only gives pupils access to the most appropriate Year 11 qualification, but also supports the development of vital skills for independent living, such as risk assessment.

Enrichment activities are embedded into the science curriculum to ensure that pupils can explore their scientific imagination and regular STEM days provide opportunities for pupils to experience how their maths and science learning is linked. Items in the news are regularly shared and critically analysed to engage pupils with current science and to develop their ability to make informed choices as adults.

Big Ideas in Science




The cellular basis of life

Substances and properties


Heredity and life cycles

Particles and structure

Forces and motion

Organisms and their environments

Chemical reactions

Sound, light, and waves

Variation, adaptation, and evolution

Earth chemistry

Electricity and magnetism

Health and disease

Dynamic Earth

Earth in space