A local authority approach to support science transition from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 3

Case Study
  • Authored by: Shane Clark
  • Status: Approved

Introduction

What were your reasons for doing this type of development work?

Allow students in Year 6 to do a ‘final’ science project to consolidate
all their experience of doing science at primary school in an
open-ended investigation, and to celebrate this success.

To have a record of some of their achievements, which can
be shared with their new school, science teacher and peers (a common
experience). They should take their investigative report to their new
school on the Secondary School Induction Day, where it will be expected
by the Science Department.

To demonstrate to their new science teachers the
investigative skills they have already gained from primary science, and
that they have developed independent skills enabling them to undertake
investigations and research.

Who might find this case study useful?

  • Support staff
  • Head of school improvement
  • Headteacher
  • Middle leader
  • National Strategies consultant
  • Senior leadership team (SLT)
  • Subject leader
  • Teacher

Key points

Point 1

Transition support in science: Penguins make a difference! How do penguins keep warm? Year 6 and 7 find out

Point 2

Local authority support transition collaboration in science. 60+ schools involved, 80%+ to carry out project next year

What

What specific curriculum area, subject or aspect did you intend to have impact on?

  • Transfer and transition
  • Science

How did you intend to impact on pupil learning?

This project allowed Year 6 students after the KS2 Tests the
opportunity to extend their learning in science in preparation for
students' transfer to secondary school and to build their confidence in
preparation of school transfer.

This project allowed Year 7 students to confidently
demonstrate to their new science teachers the investigative skills they
have already gained from primary science, and that they have developed
independent skills enabling them to undertake investigations and
research.

What were your success criteria?

A key element of this project is to facilitate closer working ralations
between our primary and secondary school and to support transition.

Collaboration:

40-60% of primary schools take part in the project (May – July 2008).
40-60% of year 6 students take their completed projects to their new school on the transition day in July 2008.

50-60% of secondary schools deliver the secondary element of the project in September 2008.

60-80% of teachers, on reviewing the project, feel that they project
was worthwhile and would carry it out in subsequent years.

 

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What information or data did you use to measure progress towards your success criteria?

  • Logs or interviews
  • Pupils' work

What did you do? What teaching approaches (pedagogy) did you use to achieve the intended impact?

  • Assessment for Learning (AfL)
  • Problem solving
  • Self assessment and peer assessment
  • Simulation and virtual learning
  • Teaching sequences

Describe the teaching approaches you used

The 'Penguin Project' has been put together through a collaboration between the Buckinghamshire science consultants, ASTs and teachers. This project aims to support the transition of children from primary to secondary school by allowing students to undertake a fun and realistic extended Sc1 investigation in Year 6 (after the KS2 tests) to consolidate the investigative skills they have learnt in primary school. On transition to secondary school they took part in the second phase of the project demonstrating to their new science teachers what they are capable of.

The two units have been put together to support the transition of Year 6 children to their new secondary school. Each unit has clear teaching objectives linked to the science national curriculum; however, there is an underlying rationale behind this work, which is:

  • To allow students in Year 6 to do a 'final' science project to consolidate all their experience of doing science at primary school in an open-ended investigation, and to celebrate this success.
  • To have a record of some of their achievements, which can be shared with their new school, science teacher and peers (a common experience). They should take their investigative report to their new school on the Secondary School Induction Day, where it will be expected by the Science Department.
  • To demonstrate to their new science teachers the investigative skills they have already gained from primary science, and that they have developed independent skills enabling them to undertake investigations and research.

Although the units have a common link, they are designed to be stand-alone in nature to take account of students that either may not have completed the work in primary school or who may have come from out of County. The units need to be 'fun' and topical. Hence the link to stimulus material (films) on penguins.

The Year 6 Science Transition Unit looks at how penguins are adapted to their environment, using the film 'Happy Feet' as a stimulus.
This is followed in Year 7 (Year 7 Transition Unit) where the film 'March of the Penguins' has been used to investigate why penguins huddle.

The main elements of these two units, as well as some ideas for additional activities and cross-curricular work, are included in the Teacher's Handbook which can be downloaded from: http://www.bucksgfl.org.uk/course/view.php?id=242. Additional material and resources are also available on the website.

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What did you do? What approaches to CPD and learning for adults were used?

  • Training

Describe the CPD approaches you used

As a Local Authority we provided the following support:

  • Produce interesting and stimulating material to support transition - we achieved this by making the most of our ASTs and internal expertise. We were therefore able to produce high quality learning and teaching material for use in schools.

We then had to get 'buy in' by teachers, it had to be seen as valuable and worthwhile, we therefore carried out hte following:

  • Launch events accross the County to 'sell' the project, this also included maths, english and geography.
  • The LA sent out to every school the booklets and a covering letter to explain in detail the rationale for the project.
  • Provided an online facility to centralise resources and allow access to digital material thereby modeling one example of how the Moodle VLE could be used.
  • Provided some AST support as requested by schools.
  • Through our LA digital framework (VLE, e-mail) provided adviser and consultant support to teachers
  • 'Sell' the product through our annual primary and secondary conferences.

What CPD materials, research or expertise have you drawn on?

The material was developed through collaboration, drawing on expertise from:

  • Primary and Secondary ASTs
  • National Strategy consultants
  • 'Trial' carried out and modelled in 2007 and feedback from teachers.

We have also developed a course area on the Bucks Grid for Learning as a primary means of resource development.

Who provided you with support?

  • Local authority staff

How were you supported?

The important elements of our success were as follows:

  • AST coordination - we were able to call upon or primary and secondary ASTs to support and trial this project.
  • time - allocation of consultant time to facilitate this project
  • funding - ability to print and send the materials to schools.

Impact

What has been the overall impact on pupil learning?

From our evidence base (survey, student work), teacher interviews) we can say the following:

  • On average schools spent 3.9 hours (2 to 8) carrying out this project. Teachers reported that students were fully engaged and motivated, they learnt a lot of new scientific terms and got to work on practical skills straight away.
  • A range of products were produced by the students: in year 6 their transition booklets, shared with their new secondary schools. In secondary schools reports and posters.
  • Some schools were able to produce displays early on in year 7 to demonstrate their work – examples on the website (see below).

Thoughts you think are relevant to overall impact on learning

As this was the first year of roll out for this project our survey and review concentrated on the strategic level of impact – was the material getting into schools and being used.

Key points:

  • Most effective means of dissemination was by producing the material and delivering it to schools: 50% received and used the material. 22% heard about the project from colleagues or e-new letters.
  • Over 90% felt that it was important that the material was 'professionally' produced and had been trialled before, by ASTs and teachers.
  • 73% of students (teachers' views) felt that the project was interesting and stimulating.

Next year we need to carry out a focused pupil level evaulation.

Quotes you think are relevant to overall impact on learning

It showed which children were able to organise an investigation and develop their own learning through this.

Good fun, gave the pupils something to own and produce that linked with their primary school.

They really enjoyed this but... the serious learning side meant they really had to think about what was meant by 'insulation' and how it affected the temperature of a penguin.

With new year 7s this gave me the opportunity to see how they worked in a group and I used different groups. it enabled me to assess their practical skills their verbal skills their use of language and how good they were at explaining their ideas to each other. It also allowed me to assess their written and graph skills in a relatively short space of time.

Quantitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • Periodic teacher assessment

Qualitative evidence of impact on pupil learning

  • Pupils' work

Describe the evidence of impact on pupil learning

Schools have provided examples of students' work to share across the authority as examples of good practice.
(for examples of pupils' work, visit the website at http://www.bucksgfl.org.uk/course/view.php?id=242)

It is too early to provide pupil progress data, but expect this to be provided October 2009.

What has been the impact on teaching?

From our survey, Participation rate:

  • At least 60–70% of year 6 students across the County took part in this project (May to July 2008).
  • At least 50–60% of year 7 students across the County took part in this project (September to October 2008).

Thoughts you think are relevant to impact on teaching

From our survey (November 2008):

  • 87% of participants will be carrying out this project again next year
  • teachers used the lesson plans provided as a scaffold for their own teaching, while over 53% used the extension material, which did not have plans, and 33% adapted the material specifically for their groups
  • most found it easy to modify and develop the material to suit their needs.

Quotes you think are relevant to the impact on teaching

From our survey (November 2008):

I found it very useful having all the resource booklets produced and sent to my school, at that busy time of the year, it was very much appreciated and meant that the project could quickly and easily started.

I would like to link with my main feeder school science department to liaise on the project as I do feel it was worthwhile and would like to ensure that they looked at the children's booklet and carried the project forward to the next stage.

Evidence of impact on teaching

  • Improvements in curriculum documentation
  • Teacher perceptions

Describe the evidence of impact on teaching

From our survey (November 2008):

  • Teachers views have been very positive, over 30% have made recommendation for future developments.
  • Since launching, we have had on our website over 8000 hits with most teachers spending on average 5-10 visits to review updates and material.
  • Schools, particularly primary schools, have been keen to share their experiences and pictures of their work. See website.

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What has been the impact on school organisation and leadership?

As a County wide initiative we hoped to develop more collaboration between schools particularly on the transition day in July 2008.
Feedback from those involved has been positive, and has facilitated more collaboration between schools. This has also included a number of independent schools in the LA area.

Evidence of impact on school organisation and leadership

Not measured.

Summary

What is the crucial thing that made the difference?

From our survey (November 2008) key ingredients for success has been:

  • Expertise – being able to coordinate ASTs, leading teachers and consultants to facilitate the production of these resources.
  • Funding and ability to publish and disseminate material that can be used in schools directly.
  • Digital resources available.
  • The topic is 'fun' and flexible lending itself to be developed in many different ways by schools and teachers, for example, one school decided to extend the work by looking at "can penguins fly?"

What key resources would people who want to learn from your experience need access to?

Bucks Grid for Learning (bucksgfl) resource area for this project: http://www.bucksgfl.org.uk/course/view.php?id=242

Transition handbook for science: http://www.bucksgfl.org.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=7340

What CPD session and resources were particularly useful?

PPT of launch material: http://www.bucksgfl.org.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=7508

If another individual or school was attempting to replicate this work, where would they start and what would the essential elements be?

See website or contact the science team (contact details on website)
http://www.bucksgfl.org.uk/course/view.php?id=242

What further developments are you planning to do (or would you like to see others do)?

From our review, future developments include:

  • Create level (APP) assessment to allow teachers to assess student ability on core science skills
  • Create VLE couse in Moodle for schools to download and use.

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