Our science curriculum is designed to provide a high-quality science education, setting the foundations for understanding the world through the specific disciplines of biology, chemistry and physics.

Head of Faculty

Mrs V Lloyd (

Curriculum Rationale

Leading educationalists have been researching the best way to teach science in schools to develop students love of learning through inquiry-based practice. A key problem identified by Wynne Harlen (2015) was that students tended to view science as separate topics with no links between them and could not relate this to the world in which we live. The Big Ideas strategy (of which the TEMA science faculty deliver a variant of) is designed to contextualise science and help to establish links between the three science disciplines and the wider world.

At TEMA we have further modified the model to align with the school and department vision, based on work by the University of York BEST curriculum and Wynne Harlen on the Big Ideas. The Big ideas have been mapped to ensure that students will develop: their conceptual understanding through the knowledge taught, an understanding of the skills needed to investigate the concepts and knowledge they learn about and an understanding of analysis of their investigations so it can be communicated to others. Furthermore, these Big ideas have been linked in a way that will make the science that students learn more relevant and engaging to their everyday lives to help give them some relevance to the modern world. The clear pathway that is provided for them in science between KS2, KS3, and KS4 will prepare them for their life choices in the future, so they can make well-informed decisions to positively impact their lives and the wider community.

Curriculum Design Overview

The KS3 curriculum map uses Wynne Harlen Big ideas to link KS3 to KS4 to ensure that there is an overall pathway for the development of the main scientific ideas across Year 7 to Year 11. Wynne Harlen focuses on ideas of science (knowledge and concepts) and ideas for science (scientific skills). This has been incorporated into the map to ensure that not only the concepts are being developed but there is also a focus on developing students’ application of concepts and knowledge to the scientific skills.

The Big ideas of Science by Wynne Harlen are not just focused on subject disciplines as separate entities but recognises that there can be overlap between these Big ideas between the three disciplines. This has led to the development of topics with cross-discipline elements to incorporate the Big ideas as well as cross-curricular projects being incorporated into the science curriculum to develop a broader understanding of how science can be applied to the wider world which resonates with the science department and TEMA’s vision.

For TEMA’s purposes these Big Ideas of science have been summarise into:

  • Particle matter
  • Forces
  • Energy
  • Earth and Beyond
  • Cells and Organisation
  • Organisms and Interdependence
  • Diversity and Evolution

BEST practice has been used in conjunction with Wynne Harlen’s (2015) Big ideas to ensure that best practice models are used in the sequencing of the TEMA science curriculum to aid student understanding of concepts as well as deepening students understanding of science as they practice these concepts in different contexts. It is important that starting points from KS2 are identified through diagnostic questions (Appendix 3) and students are either nurtured or stretched to ensure that KS3 students are secure in their understanding of science. These years provide the foundations for further development of the Big Ideas for future study and application to real life contexts.

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