Science is about understanding and modelling the world in which we live and putting this knowledge to good use through invention and technology.
At Ballard, pupils benefit from hands-on practical work in small classes in fully resourced labs with a dedicated lab technician. Subject specialists encourage a questioning approach and develop strong reasoning skills within pupils.
Pupils are encouraged to feel part of a team as they undertake greater responsibility for their own learning. The Science Department is fully integrated into the ethos of the School and endeavours to develop cross-curricular links with other Departments, especially within STEM subjects.
We are privileged to have extremely well-qualified staff with subject-specific degrees, who also have experience lecturing at university and working in industry.
The Science Department also plays a unique role in supporting the PSHE programme at Ballard, covering the ‘Science’ in such areas as diet, smoking, reproduction and drugs, as well as many of the moral and ethical issues raised.
Ballard pupils are a curious bunch and we fully support the hands-on approach to learning. Whether it’s in the classroom, the Science laboratories or out and about in our expansive grounds and varied habitats, we give them every opportunity to feed their inquisitiveness. They really do start their scientific journey from an early age here at Ballard.
We love children who ask why and we enjoy seeing the delight on their faces when they work out answers for themselves. Whether it is measuring liquids, identifying trees or hunting for insects in the bluebell woods, our pupils love their Science lessons.
Science is taught with a strong emphasis on investigative work and scientific enquiry providing the pupils with solid foundations for the Science they will develop further up the School.
We strongly believe in a hands-on approach to Science at this age, enabling the children to experience awe and wonder in the subject and to capture their natural curiosity about the world as they experience it.
Our team of teachers, chosen for their passion for Science, present the subject in a stimulating and lively way with each class having access to a specialist Science laboratory as well as a considerable wealth of resources, specialist equipment and apparatus.
Whether it’s becoming part of a food chain or working out which solids melt, our pupils’ imaginations are constantly engaged and their enquiring minds filled with skills, which will prepare them for the future.
Ballard is also lucky to have such extensive grounds, including meadows, woodlands and a beautiful water garden, which are frequently used for studying the local ecology. This has inspired a group of Lower Prep pupils to not only investigate the outside world but also to try and protect it through the formation of an extra-curricular ‘Eco-Committee’.
They have been successful at implementing change across the School on a wide variety of topics and, having won the Silver Eco Award this year, are currently working towards the prestigious Green Flag Award.
In Year 6 pupils remain in Forms and study the ‘Science Bug’ scheme of work. This is designed to spark the imagination and curiosity of pupils by providing them with fun, interactive and educational programmes that instil a clear understanding of what science is and how it affects their world.
They also take part in the national ‘CREST Discovery Awards’, where pupils collaborate on a STEM project in self-managed groups, record and reflect on their work before presenting their findings.
In Years 7 and 8 the pupils follow the ‘Activate’ scheme of work and they have access to online materials and textbooks on the ‘Kerboodle’ website. Pupils have three lessons a week which have an emphasis on practical work.
Whether it is exploring different types of energy using wind-up toys and a pendulum or making their own sparklers, our pupils love participating and gaining confidence alongside learning.
The integrated Science course lays important foundations for study at GCSE level and develops key skills; during Year 8, they take their CREST Bronze Award, which provides a real-life experience of ‘being a specialist’. This award allows pupils to experience the project process, improving their enquiry, problem-solving and communication skills, which are important tools for all aspects of life, not just Science.
Ballard pupils start their Science GCSE in Year 9 following the AQA combined Trilogy course. At the end of Year 9, pupils get the chance to choose whether they wish to study for the separate Sciences and get three GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics or remain with combined Science, where they will achieve two GCSEs.
At GCSE, the pupils will have three separate specialist teachers for each of the three disciplines. Both routes have no controlled assessment or practical, but the pupils will have to undertake a number of required practicals and they are assessed at the end of the course by terminal exams.
Pupils have access to online materials and a digital textbook on the ‘Kerboodle’ website but, again, we also like to engage their minds in creative ways. One class recently recreated electric circuits in their revision class using red liquorice shoelaces, icing and biscuits.
In 2018, the department had the best GCSE results ever. 100% of pupils studying Biology, Chemistry and Physics achieved the gold standard of a grade 9-4 and 90% of pupils studying Combined Science achieved this compared to the National average of 54.8%.
We have had many stories of Alumni who have carried on their studies in Science to further education and beyond. Recently we learnt of one who is currently in her second year studying medicine at Cardiff University. Another alumnus is studying radiography at Portsmouth University and he recently came in to school to talk to Year 9 in their PSHE lesson about his studies and a career in radiography.