The science curriculum: time for a refresh

Oxford Smart Activate Resource hub

What was happening in the UK in 2015? Justin Bieber was storming the charts with not one, not two, but three Number 1 hits. Dinosaurs were running amok again in Jurassic World. The polls opened for the general election. As all this was happening, school were preparing to update their KS3 science curriculum, in line with the new published guidance.

A lot has happened in those intervening 8 years, which is why we’ve seen schools looking again at their KS3 curriculum. During this period, the Oxford Science team has been working with Pioneer Schools who have been trialling Oxford Smart Activate with a range of KS3 groups. Here are some of the reasons why our Pioneer Schools chose Oxford Smart Activate to refresh their curriculum.

A science curriculum informed by research and evidence, and integrated throughout the resources.

“We liked that [OUP] had their finger on the pulse about the latest pedagogy. They responded to the science reports from Ofsted, they used the latest pedagogy from EEF and Gatsby Science.” James Dunn, Guiseley School

“It’s good to go back to the pillars and back to the pedagogy and why we do what we do.” Mark Middleton, Idsall School

There are six pillars that underpin the science curriculum – curriculum coherence, high aspirations, responsive teaching and learning, metacognition, learner identity, and awe and wonder.

To find out more about these, watch Amie Hewish, Product Director – Primary STEM and Secondary – introduce them here.

Not only has Oxford Smart Activate been developed using the most up-to-date research and evidence, strategies and guidance are fully-integrated within the print and digital resources, delivered via Kerboodle.

Supporting students to become independent and resilient learners

“It’s part of our department push to have the students exposed to more diverse role models. We want them to be more aware of careers; we want them to be looking more at independent learning. We really like the resources we are using, particularly how they can inspire our learners to be inquisitive learners.” Lynda Charlesworth, Camden School for Girls

“I’m personally really interested in metacognitive learning…it’s great to see the recent research around metacognitive learning and learner identity.” Gillian Musgrave, St Richard Reynolds Catholic College

The power of awe and wonder: introducing the new Oxford Smart Curriculum, Oxford University Press, 2021, states “Practically, the curriculum can help learners to develop skills and qualities such as independence and resilience which will help them build confidence and approach learning fearlessly and with a positive mindset.”

Dr Andrew Chandler-Grevatt explores this in a science context in his blog Developing self-regulation in the science curriculum, and how teachers can introduce this from the outset of the secondary science journey.

Considering the impact…

The Oxford Science team worked with over 20 schools across the country during the Pioneer trial and these are a couple of areas in which they felt Oxford Smart Activate could support them to rethink and refresh their science curriculum.

But what impact has Oxford Smart Activate had…

…on the students

“We are getting them skilled up now with what, why, and how well they are doing things. I am really excited for when these students sit their GCSEs because I believe we will see a massive difference.” Gaynor Clipsham, Benjamin Britten Music Academy

“Students are really engaged with the work. They are making some good cross-curricular links, not only across other subjects but to the real world. They come in excited and engaged, and keen to learn. They’ve got really inquisitive minds and have been asking a lot of questions, and that’s been triggered by the content we are using.” Sarah Chewings, Suthers School

“They go home and talk about it with their families. That for me is what I want my students to be getting out of my lessons. To actually be excited about what their learning and want to go and find things out on their own.” Adele Read, Toot Hill School

…on the science department

I’m now spending more time doing, less time planning, and the students are finding lessons much more engaging.” Brendan Gibb, St Richard Reynolds Catholic College

It’s made us a very vibrant department in terms of teaching and learning…We have found that by being part of this research, that our staff are reflective and motivated learners.” Mauvine Charles, Alec Reed Academy

“This has give the teachers a real boost – just to see how well their students are doing. Oxford Smart Activate is so supportive. The teaching resources are fantastic, but also the background research – it’s all there.” Gaynor Clipsham, Benjamin Britten Music Academy