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The five enquiry types

The National Curriculum for Science for England explains that,

“‘Working scientifically’ specifies the understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science…“

This needs to be embedded within our teaching of the biology, chemistry and physics content. Through a variety of enquiry driven activities, children can work scientifically, working to answer scientific questions.

The National Curriculum for Science for England clearly lists 5 different types of enquiry that children should be familiar with across the primary school.

These are:

  • Observation over time
  • Pattern seeking
  • Identifying, classifying and grouping
  • Comparative and fair testing
  • Research using secondary sources

In the next five steps we will examine each of these enquiry types in more detail.


Before you move on to the next steps take a few minutes to think about when you might have seen children engaging with the different type of enquiry. Share your thoughts in the comments below.

  • Which enquiry type(s) are you familiar with?
  • When have you seen children engaging with the different types of enquiry?
  • What questions were the children trying to answer?

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Getting Started

National STEM Learning Centre