Nottingham Girls’ High School Junior School has been awarded a highly-prized Primary Science Quality Mark, Bronze Award. Junior teacher and subject leader, Miss Olivia Wildt, spent a year looking at the provision of science teaching at Infant and Junior level and how this could be improved and better tie in with the Senior curriculum that the girls’ will face in the future. Introducing new ideas and concepts, Miss Wildt worked hard developing links between the Senior and Junior school to ensure that all girls received more science teaching, and that Junior staff had access to resources from the ‘science cupboard’ she introduced and were able to deliver lessons that were as much fun as they were educational.
The Primary Science Quality Mark (PSQM) was launched in 2010 as an initiative of the University of Hertfordshire School of Education in partnership with the Primary Science Teaching Trust. To win an award at any level is a fantastic achievement as it is the only award scheme to develop and celebrate the quality of science teaching and learning in primary schools; NGHS is understandably pleased as Head, Julie Keller says: “I’m really proud of Olivia and the recognition of the hard work she has put in to obtain this award for the Junior School, because this is the place where a passion for STEM subjects needs to be introduced, ensuring that we can follow it through with our whole school approach.”
Highlighting the importance of science and its significance in the wider world is a key factor, and relating it to current issues makes it real for the younger girls. Miss Wildt said: “Science is important in my class and each term I have a science display in the classroom or in the corridor of the current topic which has been learnt.” One of the most recent displays is of the solar system as Year 4 have worked on this topic. A trip to the Space Centre in Leicester brought this to life even more, and the girls are huge fans of Tim Peake! Other topics have also included many aspects of nature, wildlife and the environment – all important global issues.
The inquisitive, practical and creative minds of the Junior girls has led them to really embrace science lessons and enthuse when they see them on the timetable, as Miss Wildt explains: “Children in my own class ‘love’ science as it is the most ‘fun’ subject. The part they love most is the practical element of the lessons.” Spending some time doing science lessons at the Senior School is also a mutually beneficial experience. Girls have enjoyed taking part in all sorts if activities and this serves to whet their appetites for the future. Dissecting things, inventing gadgets and getting their hands dirty still has the same pull for children as it always has, and if this helps in the acquisition of science knowledge then so much the better.
In this forward thinking school, Miss Wildt concludes: “The next step for me as a subject leader is to think how we can aid more children to ask questions for investigation in areas which appeal to them, and how we can integrate this into teachers’ science planning.”
The future of science teaching and learning certainly looks bright at NGHS, and the PSQM Bronze Award proves that the first steps have already been taken in the right direction.