Following the introduction of the required practicals into the new Science GCSE specification, we have introduced ‘Becoming a Seaford Scientist’ (BASS) at KS3. These are a set of lessons that occur once a fortnight throughout the year. Our Year 7 and 8 students are currently taking part in these lessons.
The focus is to improve the students’ ability to work together and problem solve practical tasks by working as a part of a group with as little teacher input as possible. The skills focus on the ‘How Science Works’ understanding, which now has an increased focus in the new GCSE.
BASS also fits in with the whole school strategy of fostering independent learning, as it allows pupils to work together to overcome different scientific problems with as little help from the teacher as possible. BASS enables students to develop communication and group skills work.
Phillip Whelpton (Assistant Head of Year 11 and Head of KS3 Science) tells us: “The required practical makes up 15% of the new GCSE. By introducing BASS into our KS3 curriculum it will enable the students to have the key scientific skills and knowledge going into their GCSE years”.
‘BASS’ is underpinned by three key aims and three pupils’ rules. The key aims are to:
• give Seaford pupils the thinking skills required to apply their learned content to novel and investigative situations
• give Seaford pupils an insight into how we want our GCSE and A Level scientists to think and how this then links to real scientists
• provide opportunities for Seaford pupils to discuss scientific ideas and concepts openly in a safe environment
The pupils’ rules are:
• THINK: These lessons will be demanding on your brain – you need to be actively thinking and questioning all of the time
• DO: Get stuck in – there will be lots of investigations and discussions, so everyone should be able to have a go at something in every lesson
• RESPECT: Allow your classmates to think and do not disregard anything anyone says. You might not agree, but you need to discuss this properly
These lessons have been well received by our students. Here is some of their feedback:
Lily Web: “I like the lessons because there are lots of practicals”.
Clemmie Farrant: “It gives you a chance to do something that you don’t do every normal science lesson”.
Greg Doyle: “The BASS lessons are interesting because we do practicals”.
Piers Walters: “It is fun how we experiment with the practicals. We watch and learn new things”.
Ollie Crossley: “They are active lessons”.
Toby Price: “The BASS lessons are fun because we do lots of practicals”.
Mr Whelpton: “There is always a great buzz in the corridor with students asking ‘is it the BASS lesson?’. As a teacher it is great to watch the students communicating and working together to overcome a problem”