Curriculum intent – Science

  • At City Heights, we uphold the value that science is crucial to everyday life and our science curriculum has been designed to enthuse a love for lifelong learning, reflecting these values.
  • Embedding the fundamentals of science through the teaching of Biology, Chemistry and Physics, through knowledge and skills required to provide the pupils a rich understanding and appreciation of the world we live in.
  • We work towards answering core questions that make up part of bigger component questions as part of our science curriculum. Through high quality teaching and delivery of an inquisitive Curriculum pupils will gain the knowledge, skills and confidence required to aspire towards the person they desire.
  • Through research, practical application, and analytical skills, pupils are empowered with the rich knowledge of what it takes to be a successful Scientist, capable of imparting their knowledge successfully in their school life as well as being able to make decisions that will have a positive impact on society.

Our vision is:

To develop deep thinkers, with a body of knowledge that builds upon conceptual understanding and thinking skills progressively through their journey from Year 7 – 11. Empowering students and generating a love of learning for learning; that inspires, nurtures and encourages student success. The Science curriculum will translate into a structure and narrative where each key concept will provide an additional step towards mastery where:

  • Skills and knowledge are connected and embedded in every teaching activity, so that students receive regular practice with enquiry, numeracy and literacy skills.
  • Student knowledge and skills are evaluated using pre-assessment, diagnostic assessments and summative assessments to inform next phase of learning
  • Students are confident in key skills/concepts that encourage enjoyment and passion for science.

Learners are encouraged to learn the 3 distinct disciplines in science: Biology, Chemistry and Physics, developing investigative skills and having the ability to work safely in a laboratory from Year 7, developing their practice through to GCSE.

Students at KS3 in Year 7 – 8 will follow the national curriculum using the AQA KS3 mastery science specification, which enables a natural progression to accessing the GCSE content. This also provides the foundation knowledge for the AQA 9-1 specification. Year 9 have a unique foundation bridge year, where previous key concepts are recapped and re-taught through 4 key composites:

  1. Organisms
  2. Matter
  3. Forces
  4. Reactions

Within the 4 composites, pupils will build on the prior learning from Year 7 and 8, numeracy skills, literacy and practical use of apparatus. This will enable students to secure knowledge and understanding before undertaking the GCSE syllabus. The big ideas will be interleaved across the years up to and including Year 11, with the goal of continual learning, where teachers will ensure that basics are embedded and all students are secure in knowledge. Every year, the idea is that all fundamental components are built upon, revisiting prior knowledge.

Across each group, each discipline is split up into 3-4 big ideas that are studied each year. These include:

  • Biology – organisms, ecosystems, genes,

Life is built through molecules, cells, tissues, organs and organ systems. Students explore how life processes depend on molecules and how their structure relates to their function. Organisms may form populations of single species, communities of many species and ecosystems, interacting with each other, with the environment and with humans in many ways. Living organisms are interdependent and show adaptations to their environment life on Earth is dependent on photosynthesis in which green plants and algae trap light from the Sun to fix carbon dioxide and combine it with hydrogen from water to make organic compounds and oxygen. Organic compounds are used as fuels in cellular respiration to allow the other chemical reaction necessary for life; the chemicals in ecosystems are continually cycling through the natural world. The characteristics of a living organism are influenced by its genome and its interaction with the environment. Evolution occurs by a process of natural selection and accounts both for biodiversity and how organisms are all related to varying degrees.

  • Chemistry – matter, reactions, earth,

Matter is composed of tiny particles called atoms and there are about 100 different naturally occurring types of atoms called elements • elements show periodic relationships in their chemical and physical properties. These periodic properties can be explained in terms of the atomic structure of the elements; atoms bond by either transferring electrons from one atom to another or by sharing electrons; the shapes of molecules (groups of atoms bonded together) and the way giant structures are arranged is of great importance in terms of the way they behave. There are barriers to reaction so reactions occur at different rates. Chemical reactions take place in only three different ways: proton transfer; electron transfer; electron sharing. Energy is conserved in chemical reactions so can therefore be neither created or destroyed.

  • Physics – forces, electromagnets, energy waves

The use of models, as in the particle model of matter or the wave models of light and of sound. The concept of cause and effect in explaining links such as those between force and acceleration, or between changes in atomic nuclei and radioactive emissions. The phenomena of ‘action at a distance’ and the related concept of the field as the key to analysing electrical, magnetic and gravitational effects. That differences, for example between pressures or temperatures or electrical potentials, are the drivers of change; that proportionality, for example between weight and mass of an object or between force and extension in a spring, is an important aspect of many models in science that physical laws and models are expressed in mathematical form.


Year 7

Begin with introduction to science to close any gaps that may have occurred during Primary learning and to provide basic skills for all students to access the curriculum. So that learners have a broad coverage and can revisit key information in topics; topics are sequenced in order of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The earlier topics are needed first to secure knowledge that needs to be built upon in future topics. For example, in year 7, we will learn about cells as learners will have had some experience at KS2, this also shows learners the building blocks for all life. This topic must be taught prior to understanding both organs and organ systems as well as variation and genes. Progression moves the Year 7 pupils onto the human reproduction system since the gametes (sex cells) are referred to and carry out 2 different forms of cell division.

Physics is introduced by teaching forces and speed: to help pupils to understand the interaction between objects and how these can influence the things around us. Energy is taught next allowing a deeper understanding of how particles can gain and lose energy, and this energy change can exert a force. Moving onto waves, sound and light, students are challenged in their prior understanding of both energy and forces to deepen their thinking about how both matter and energy are relevant in the understanding of waves.

The Chemistry journey begins with the particle model and how substances can be separated, building on prior knowledge from KS2 learning. This is prior to teaching both atoms, elements and compounds and reactions of metals and non-metals so that learners are equipped to identify whether a material is a solid, liquid or gas.


Year 8

Start the Year with topics consisting of Physics in the way of Electricity, Electromagnets, Forces and Pressure, refreshing the content from the end of Year 7, with a very hands-on practical approach to a discipline that can be loaded with calculations and theory. Generating electricity deepens the prior learning about light and allows students to discover the way in which we generate electricity and the energy transfers that take place withing the process. Waves: sound and light explore the way in which waves can take different form, travelling in definitive ways through varied materials. Finally, magnets and magnetism allow a practical approach to investigating magnetic fields and how to create non-permanent magnets as well as the Earth’s natural magnetic field, including all the applications and uses of each type of magnet.

Biology components are Organisms: Breathing and Digestion, Genes and Evolution. Both topics provide highly relatable content, linking the origins of life and evidence for theory of evolution to how we are organised in our body systems and how they compare and differ to other species. Genes and inheritance are taught to progress understanding of reproduction and how we gain our features, looks and how genes and environment can affect appearance. Ecosystems: photosynthesis and respiration finish off the year for Biology discovering the word and balanced equations for 2 of life’s most important reactions, investigating both with practical investigations leads well into Year 9 science.

Chemistry’s learning is made up of the foundation for the discipline, Matter and the Periodic Table relating the atoms, element and compound knowledge learnt in Year 7 to its position in the periodic table and its creation. Matter, elements and how they are made up of atoms leads well into the topic of reactions and how new products are formed with lots of practical science opportunities to create reactions in the labs. Tying the learning together and finishing off the chemistry learning for Year 8 is the Earth’s climate and resources, incredibly important with the relevance to sustaining the planet and its resources. This topic gives rise to the chance to clarify confusion over climate change and global warming, whilst raising awareness of finite, non-renewable resources on Earth.


Year 9

Biology starts the year with seeing inside of cells, using microscopes to investigate the structure with Eukaryotic cells and how the development of the microscope has led to further scientific and medical discovery. Identifying the differences between the diverse types of cells and what type of organism they belong to, sets the platform for the topic of digestion. Digestion and how we break it down consists of the journey of food and how the body works with specialised surfaces, cells and tissues to allow absorption of small molecules of food to be absorbed into the blood stream.

Chemistry builds on the Year 8 knowledge of elements and progresses to the way in which the periodic table is organised and the structure of atoms and how they are made up of sub-atomic particles, protons, neutron and electrons laying the foundation to Bonding. Bonds bring it all together, uses quite simple substances such as water, oxygen and carbon dioxide to aid the learning of how these compounds, molecules and elements form their bonds between the atoms, bridging the pathway to GCSE.

Physics begins with Energy: staying charged up, which identifies students prior learning about energy types and introduces a further understanding that energy is not created or destroyed, yet transferred. Can lightning strike twice, open the door to the world of electricity and the various components needed to work safely and how they behave in different scenarios. Finishing Year 9 is the building upon the way particles are arranged and the way the different states of matter change state, investigating their latent heat, specific heat capacity.


Year 10

Biology begins with infection and response, which is incredibly relevant with the current global situation with Corona virus, students will learn about several types of pathogens how to treat infections and how the body responds to infection. Bioenergetics, takes a more in depth look at respiration and photosynthesis, building on prior learning. The nervous and endocrine systems are studied learning about how they work to keep our body safe and functioning at optimum levels. The final biology topic of the year is reproduction, inheritance, variation and evolution, which takes students on the journey of life from its conception, what causes the differences between and within species and how these can lead to evolution.

Physics learning starts the year with electricity, the relationship between voltage, current and resistance, giving opportunity for students to investigate these relationships and learn about how electricity is produced and its safety concerns. The particle model of matter extends students learning from Year 9 and deepens thinking by understanding internal energy and how this can change the state of matter. Radioactivity follows on well from the particle model by looking further into atoms and their nuclei. Focus on unstable atoms and the way in which they break down and release radiation opens the door to further learning about how waves like Gamma can be dangerous whilst also useful. Waves and the Electromagnetic spectrum draw knowledge from the previous Year 10 learning combined with KS3 knowledge of light and sound. Learning about all the practical applications of the variety of waves that make up the EM spectrum give students deeper understanding to everyday items such as their mobile phones, wireless ear phones, internet use, microwaves and much more.

Chemistry starts the year by students using knowledge of atoms and the periodic table to study Quantitative chemistry, working out masses of element, compounds, reactants and products. Calculations and using the periodic table are essential in the understanding of this topic which leads onto the next topic. Reactivity as a topic allows lots of practical opportunity for investigations reacting acids, metals and bases. Neutralisation continues the learning of how substances react and can be useful in day-to-day life. Some of the reactions with acids take in or give out heat linking well to ‘energy changes’ understanding exo and endothermic reactions and how these can be used in medical ice pack and self-heating products. Rates of reaction continues the understanding and focusses on how quickly they can occur in reactions like fireworks exploding or a piece of iron rusting. Organic chemistry finishes the learning in year 10 looking at how crude oil as a raw product can be separated into a variety of hydrocarbons and then how these fractions can be used for a variety of useful products used in daily life.


Year 11

Biology starts of the years learning with field work carried out in the unit of Ecology, learning about biodiversity, human impact, species distribution and how we can preserve species for future generations.

Physics focusses in on the topic of Forces using a variety of practical work to aid learning through calculations, and investigation of Newtons laws. Finishing off the learning of physics with magnets and magnetism linking the learning about forces to understand Flemming’s left hand rule, how magnets are used to induce current.

Chemistry learning takes place looking at how the Earth’s atmosphere has changes and continues to do so, from the early Earth and how volcanic activity contributed many of the elements that contributed to the start of life on Earth. Understanding how many of the substances on Earth formed and their uses links to the topic of ‘using resources’ which highlights environmental issues faced with the creation of products from their raw material state, their usage; to their disposal. Focus on how reusing, recycling and reducing the use of Earth’s materials finishes the learning with moral, conscious knowledge on how our actions have consequence.

The remainder of the year is spent revisiting past topics being re-taught in preparation for both Paper 1 and Paper 2 GCSE revision.



We have carefully mapped the substantive knowledge that we want students to learn to ensure that within each year, the topics within each big idea lead into each other building on the rich knowledge gained in the previous topic. Throughout our curriculum, disciplinary knowledge will also be taught through carefully planned practical’s/projects/research tasks that are completed within the topic but there will be a greater emphasis on substantive content has been mastered. This includes homework tasks, which consist of research, online assessment, consolidation of learning as well as opportunity to close the gap as part of a catch-up curriculum.

Regular assessment of prior knowledge is used to ensure that pupils master the content of the 3 main disciplines. Through continuous retrieval practice in the form of a variety of formative assessment strategies through each composite, including:

  • A low stakes multiple choice assessment checking prior knowledge
  • Progress review tests, highlighting misconceptions prior to finishing a unit of work
  • End of topic tests used to assess Mastery of the unit
  • 3 x termly assessments, these assessments will be used to report home on the progress made by pupils

Once teachers are confident that all students have mastered the content, they will progress onto new content indicated in the Long-Term Plan (LTP).

The GCSE syllabus is delivered in an equivalent manner to KS3, deepening the thinking of the previous foundation learning over Year 7-9. The introduction of new knowledge and learning for the students to engage with, is scaffolded from the most powerful knowledge to enable all pupils to access the knowledge rich content. This process continues until the end of year 11 when students have gained the knowledge and skills, they require to be successful adults and effective leaders in whichever career they pursue.


For further details on the Science Curriculum please click the relevant button below

5 year overview




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