OPGS is an 11-18 Selective Grammar School
To embed active learning strategies into the core of the Key Stage 4 Science curriculum to better engage pupils and stretch the more able.
Although students were generally achieving well in Science, there were issues with a lack of challenge in certain areas of the curriculum.
A range of strategies, including Kagan strategies, independent reading and presentations, group discussions, student led learning and competitions were introduced. There was an emphasis on strategies to help to develop literacy skills, and more complex tasks to help develop student rigour. Staff training was required to help with more complex strategies and to ensure that these were being regularly employed in lessons.
The focus was on students taking more responsibility for independent work. The delivery of mastery lessons continued to be a key focus. Seating plans were adapted following Kagan plans and were very successful in terms of encouraging pupil engagement and peer support. A robot competition was held, Year 8 completed a project on Enceladus through which they were encouraged to investigate the Drake equation, terraforming and other A-Level topics. The RAF were invited in to demonstrate flight and engines to tie in with work studied by Year 9 and 10.
The Science department delivered CPD sessions on Active Learning and "Thinking Hard" strategies across the school in trainee teacher sessions, new teacher training sessions and whole-school CPD sessions to all departments. A series of "masterclasses" and "walking talking" mock examinations for each science were run as a trial with Year 11 students, which proved very popular.
Staff feedback, student questionnaire
Feedback from the CPD sessions was very positive, and the training was extended out to the whole school following its success. The ideas and strategies delivered were adopted as whole-school policy. The Key Stage 3 students’ questionnaire showed that 92% of students agreed that they had to "think hard" in their Science lessons whilst 83% of students said that they found the classwork and homework challenging enough. However, only 53% of students said that they felt that subject content was delivered in a wide variety of ways, which indicated that, although the schemes include a range of different activities in lessons, more consistency needs to be achieved on this. 88% of students said that Science was their favourite, or one of their favourite, subjects.
Challenges have included staff turnover, staff requiring ongoing training, time limitations for CPD, but also, overcoming the mind-set of regular habits in the classroom for both teachers and students to be willing to try out new strategies. Overall, this has been a success within our department. Feedback from senior management has been very positive.
Rachael Limer, email@example.com