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National Curriculum science areas


What areas of science are covered in primary school?

The National Curriculum currently splits science into four main areas:

  1. Scientific enquiry: this is concerned with teaching children the practical aspects of science, such as how to plan and carry out an investigation, how to make observations and record measurements and how to present what they have found out. Children will learn these scientific skills through practical contexts linked to the other three main areas.

  2. Two girls looking at a model of the solar systemLife processes and living things: this is the area of science broadly to do with 'biology' and covers both plants and animals, including humans.

  3. Materials and their properties: this covers the concept of solids, liquids and gases. Children explore the properties of many everyday materials and begin to develop their understanding of ways in which different materials can change. It is the beginnings of an understanding of chemistry.

  4. Physical processes: this covers concepts such as light, sound, electricity, forces and motion. Children also learn about the Earth in space within this area of science and it is broadly speaking to do with the 'physics' aspects of science.

Within each area, there are a number of concepts which schools have to teach. Primary schools approach the teaching of science in different ways, often as part of a theme or topic over a block of time, sometimes linked with other curriculum areas.

In some schools separate science sessions are timetabled at a regular time each week; in others the science may be given a more major focus for a particular block of work.

Some repetition of science topics is built in to the curriculum, to ensure that children's understanding progresses, so do not worry if your child comes home saying they are doing a topic they have done before. They will gradually be developing their understanding of more abstract and difficult concepts as they progress through primary school. For example, in KS1 they will have learnt something about the basic conditions that plants need to grow. When they cover this topic again in KS2, they will gradually be introduced to the concept of photosynthesis, conditions for seed germination and so on.

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Last updated: over 3 years ago