A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

KS3 to KS4 Case Study Peacehaven Community School

Case study by Rachel Henocq, Peacehaven Community School

About Peacehaven Community School

Peacehaven Community School (PCS) is a state secondary school with specialisms in Science and Maths. It is a relatively new school, established in 2001 to serve some 830 11–16 year olds in a coastal region of East Sussex. Last year 60% of our pupils achieved five GCSEs A*–C, with 63% achieving A*–C in Science.

As one of the Twenty First Century Science pilot schools, we have had time to develop responses to the challenges of this suite of courses. In particular we find that our pupils need to develop the skills they need to engage effectively with the case study coursework. To help with this we looked at three strategies in KS3:

  1. developing Science writing skills in year 7 and year 8
  2. developing independent study (IS) tasks for year 9
  3. promoting STEM work awareness across the key stage.

1 Developing Science writing skills in year 7 and year 8

We have written a series of five special lessons to help pupils develop their skills in planning, research, interpretation, presentation, and evaluation. In the research skills lesson, pupils use newspapers to explore the differences between opinion, theory, fact and bias. Pupils are set a series of challenges which might include:

  • find an opinion about fair trade
  • find out what the weather will be like tomorrow
  • find out who won the 2.30 at Cheltenham.

Pupils give feedback on their search strategy and decision-making, before establishing definitions for the different types of information. They then research a key question such as ‘Should we legalise cannabis?’, by gathering evidence for and against and deciding what is opinion, fact, theory or bias.

2 Skill development through Independent Study (IS)

We have recently designed two tasks in year 9 to help pupils develop their skills in carrying out a case study. For each task there is a level ladder based on Bloom’s taxonomy and KS4 coursework criteria.

In the first task, pupils answer levelled questions based on evidence in the article headlined ‘Will polar bears become extinct?’ Downloads the documents below.

In the second task (not supplied), pupils work on an IS project to answer the question ‘Should we use mobile phones?’ This is broken down into a series of tasks such as collecting and analysing data, analysing other sources of evidence, and drawing conclusions and presenting information.
Students have responded really positively to these tasks, and then feel much more confident about tackling their assessed case study.

>>Download Polar bear information sheet, student questions, and level descriptors (190 KB)
>>Download Polar bear information sheet, student questions, and level descriptors (423 KB)

3 Incorporating STEM work awareness

Our current KS3 schemes of work have been heavily influenced by upd8 WIKID’s 7E model.

In year 7, module 4, we challenge pupils find out about the skills and science needed to be a band technician, in order to produce a work-related report. Download the documents below.

In another module (not supplied) we have worked closely with Food Technology to produce activities that demonstrate how chefs make use of their scientific knowledge in order to prepare food.

>>Download Finding out about the skills needed to be a band technician (105 KB)
>>Download Finding out about the skills needed to be a band technician (232 KB)

Summary

Our work to date has focussed primarily on the core GCSE Science coursework and now we intend to develop the skills required for the Additional Science and Additional Applied Science courses.