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GSO Test

Est. 1921




What is the curriculum aim / vision for this subject?

  • To guide students to become scientifically knowledgeable, scientifically literate and methodical problem solvers, by fostering a spirit of independent inquiry, nurturing curiosity and bringing current, relevant, real world science into the classroom.

  • We are committed to raising standards of achievement and promoting a lifelong culture of learning through an education in science.

We aim to do this by:

  • Stimulating an interest in, and enjoyment of, science.

  • Providing the opportunities and challenge for all to achieve their full potential.

  • Providing a relevant science curriculum.

  • Encouraging a culture of questioning and feeding the natural inquisitiveness of students.

  • Developing an awareness of the social, economic and environmental implications of science that will enable pupils to contribute positively to society.

  • Providing the best possible standard of teaching and opportunities for learning

What do we expect students to get from this subject?

  • Students become increasingly independent, building confidence in practical and data handling skills and greater depth of understanding in each topic studied through teaching a spiral curriculum across all year groups.

  • Students develop an understanding of the relevance of STEM in the wider world and the associated career opportunities regardless of background.

  • Students develop and understanding of and their responsibility for their health and also risk factors associated with unhealthy choices, drink and drugs.

  • Students achieve economic well-being through academic success and the associated opportunities in STEM careers and further study.

  • Students make a positive contribution to the learning of others through the development of their team-working and practical skills.

  • Engaging and stimulating lessons lead to students enjoying lessons and making accelerated progress.

Science practical lesson


How does learning develop over the five years?

The curriculum is spiral in nature.

In Years 7, 8 and 9 students follow a bespoke programme of study based around the “10 Big Ideas” in science. 

The five year programme in science is based around the core ‘big ideas’ relating to real life. The spirality of the curriculum ensures that knowledge, application, understanding and evaluation are developed and that these skills are transferable and that students develop their problem-solving, metacognition and critical thinking.

What principles have guided our decision making in developing this curriculum? What is distinctive about our curriculum?

Deep questioning, innovative teaching and learning approaches and developing thinking skills in students are the overriding principles behind our curriculum.

We set high expectations of all students and base our curriculum on a five year plan where students are challenged to attain knowledge and understanding from the start of Year 7. 

Key concepts, knowledge and skills are scaffolded to lead students towards greater depth of understanding. The ‘10 Big Ideas’ programme of study allows us to transition throughout the curriculum more smoothly. In Years 7, 8 and 9 the Big Ideas are delivered through a programme of study which empowers teachers to adapt their teaching to the individual strengths and weaknesses of students. In this way, bespoke delivery ensures that all students are supported and stretched according to their needs.  Our curriculum is distinctive due to the spiral nature of delivering content that is informed by empirical evidence.

How is the timetabled curriculum supplemented or enriched by other approaches to learning?

There are extensive enrichment opportunities for students in science. These can take the form of planned events such as Big Bang Fair, Salters Chemistry Festivals, Medical Mavericks. Students are encouraged to develop their skills through programmes such as STEM ambassadors and STEM clubs. Classroom learning is extended and further developed through STEM and Astronomy clubs where students can engage in the subject in a wider context. Classroom learning is directly supported through opportunities such as field-work and university laboratory masterclasses. Many science learning trips are provided through the year and learner uptake for these is high and they are always oversubscribed. Extensive partnerships have been established with educational, industry and third-sector organisations.

In what ways does your curriculum help to develop…?

  • Cultural diversity and identity: Ethical debates cover a range of issues. Displays in the department highlight cultural diversity of the science community. A STEM stall is a regular feature of the school’s cultural festival. Bespoke enrichment opportunities are provided for target groups.

  • Physically and mentally healthy lifestyles: Healthy eating, drugs, diet and sexual health all feature in the curriculum.

  • Community participation: The department’s nature area is part of a community outreach programme. Local university students act as STEM outreach ambassadors.

  • Careers and enterprise: These are promoted through STEM clubs and outreach events such as Big Bang Fair and University programmes such as Absolute Chemistry.

  • Technology and the media: Regular ‘science in the news’ starter activities highlight current issues. Current scientific issues are routines embedded in ‘Big Ideas’ teaching.

  • Creativity and critical thinking: Critical thinking is developed through questioning and the scientific method. The key skills of analysis, communication, enquiry and problem solving are embedded in the Big Ideas which are the delivery routes for all curriculum content.


What forms do assessments take? What is the purpose of assessment?

Assessment is used as a diagnostic tool to inform future planning an intervention. Assessment takes many forms to cover the assessment objectives Peer and self-assessment is embedded and is a feature of every lesson.

How do we know if we have a successful curriculum?

Success is measured by improvement in student outcomes in science:

  • Scrutiny of pupil work and pupil voice sessions highlight increased engagement, enjoyment and interest in science,
  • “Do they know more and are they able to remember more?”
  • Scrutiny of pupil work and pupil voice sessions 

Increased participation in STEM clubs, enrichment opportunities and also increasing post-16 group sizes reflect a dynamic and engaging curriculum. Post-18 destination data and the number of students pursuing science related degrees, apprenticeships and careers also serve as a measure of student engagement.


Key Stage 3


Click here for the Biology KS3 Curriculum Map


Click here for the Chemistry KS3 Curriculum Map


Click here for the Physics KS3 Curriculum Map

Key Stage 4


Click here for the Biology KS4 Curriculum Map


Click here for the Chemistry KS4 Curriculum Map


Click here for the Physics KS4 Curriculum Map

Key Stage 5


Click here for the Biology KS5 Curriculum Map


Click here for the Chemistry KS5 Curriculum Map


Click here for the Physics KS5 Curriculum Map


For more information, click here to visit the Science Key Stage 5 information page.


Click here for the Science wider reading list