Education charity AQA has launched a syllabus for Key Stage 3 science to help students develop a deep understanding of how the concepts in the programme of study link together, and help prepare them to deal with the more challenging content they'll face at Key Stage 4 (GCSE).
AQA's syllabus, which teachers can start using straight away, provides an alternative approach to teaching the programme of study. It organises and defines the content so that students can explore the links between the 140 individual 'ideas' at Key Stage 3, and are able to apply and build on this knowledge when they move on to GCSE.
Working with Sheffield Hallam University, AQA has structured the content of its syllabus into 10 'big ideas':
Each 'big idea' topic contains four smaller topics that build in complexity. Students can start with the simple and concrete topics before moving on to the more abstract ones. For example, within the big idea of 'Waves' students would cover 'Sound' and 'Light' before moving on to 'Wave effects' and 'Wave properties'.
Stella Paes, Head of Science at AQA, explains why AQA came up with the idea for the syllabus:
"Teachers were telling us that students were developing a great knowledge of individual concepts, but weren't able to make deeper connections between them – which is vital when they come to study the subject at GCSE.
"Our syllabus connects the concepts together to help students see the world analytically, explain phenomena and make predictions – just like scientists do. We hope the syllabus will help science teachers plan a high quality curriculum that not only prepares students for future qualifications, but helps them enjoy learning science too."