Deliver intent, implementation and impact with this new KS3 Science curriculum

Oxford Smart Activate Resource hub

Dr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt worked with a range of expert teachers and educators to create the coherent, aspirational and ambitious KS3 Science curriculum behind Oxford Smart Activate. The curriculum supports Science departments to enact Ofsted’s recommended practices regarding intent, implementation and impact.

Curriculum intent: identifying what pupils need to know and do

Substantive knowledge

Building on the foundations of Key Stage 1 and Key Stage 2 teaching, Oxford Smart Activate carefully sequences the core concepts through a five-year curriculum (Years 7-11). The content knowledge is sequenced carefully, and any links between disciplines (e.g. where the particle model is used in Biology and Physics topics) are signposted clearly.

Oxford Smart Activate 1 and 2 feature Curriculum Narratives which give overviews of all the threads of the KS3 science curriculum. The Teacher Handbooks have ‘Introduction to Unit’ double-page spreads which show what the unit covers and how this underpins later topics. The Student Books’ topic openers remind students of substantive knowledge from Primary school and introduce the concepts that will be taught and learnt in that section of the book.

Disciplinary knowledge, or working scientifically

Oxford Smart Activate 1, Chapter 1 introduces the basics of all working scientifically skills. These are then mapped and sequenced throughout the curriculum so that these skills can be developed seamlessly throughout Key Stage 3 and into GCSE.

Mathematics and Literacy coherence

Maths and literacy skills are sequenced across Activate. The books highlight where and when each skill should be taught, as well how this links to teaching in Maths and English. The Teacher Handbook ‘Introduction to Unit’ double-page spreads specify the the maths skills, literacy skills and key vocabulary that need to be developed. The Student Books’ topic openers remind students of the maths and literacy skills that they have learnt in Primary school.

Implementation: teaching the curriculum

Oxford Smart Activate connects current teaching to previous learning by using curriculum journey diagrams at the start and end of each chapter in the Student Books. These provide a way to check students’ prior knowledge and offer an opportunity for intervention if necessary. Activate also supports developing all teachers’ knowledge as the Curriculum Narratives refresh subject knowledge and can be used to plan appropriate CPD.

Responsive teaching is integral to Activate as ‘Common learning misconceptions’ are listed in the introduction of each chapter of the Teacher Handbooks. Additionally, practicals are integral to Activate’s working scientifically (disciplinary knowledge) sequence. These have individual learning objectives and give students the opportunity to develop skills in different contexts.


In their report, Ofsted exemplify a range of situations where students ‘have not secured an appropriate depth of knowledge.’ Our ambition for our KS3 science curriculum is that its impact is beyond getting good grades at GCSE.

Students should be fluent in their scientific knowledge and understanding. We want students to recognise the importance of science in everyday life and to develop lifelong positive attitudes towards science.

The careful sequencing of Activate underpins excellent teaching. Activate supports teachers to concentrate on good quality teaching and use responsive strategies. Having science lessons with a clear sense of purpose should produce learners who are confident and passionate with a deep knowledge of science.

Dr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt