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Progression in subject knowledge

So far this week we’ve considered progression of practical skills, and the link between practical work and subject knowledge. The scheme of work will need to take into account what students will need to understand before you teach a topic, and what’s next for them. This means planning what order to teach ideas in so that learners have the best route through the curriculum to build understanding.

For example, when you teach photosynthesis, should students have covered cells? Will they need a good grasp of energy pathways and stores, the nature of chemicals and atomic structure, or polymers?

Ensuring that there is a good level of progress, without ignoring what they have learned in primary schools, is always going to be a challenge for secondary schools.

Additionally, how do we ensure that students are able to make links between what may appear to be a set of unrelated topics? We’ll consider an approach in the next step, but first we have a short exercise for you to explore curriculum links.

Mind map

Choose ONE of the three topics below. On a piece of paper (or digital version is you prefer) make a mind map of its links to other topics. Are there links across the science subjects?

  • Digestion
  • Reactivity of metals
  • Specific heat capacity

As you map out the links to other topics, consider which ones students would need to have covered before teaching this topic.

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Curriculum Design for Secondary School Science

National STEM Learning Centre

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