Preparing Young Scientists for the Future

Kirsty Anderson

Consultant and Trainer for Wellington Colleges China

Indoor and outdoor spaces for our Early Years pupils are designed to encourage our youngest learners to explore invitations to play and have opportunities to enquire through well-designed provision which is child-centred and follows their current interests and fascinations. Children begin to see connections between ideas, and very importantly start asking questions as they develop their knowledge and understanding of the world. This curiosity for science, established in the Early Years- through exploration and play with different materials, in different places, and with different people- is developed and embedded throughout our schools so that all pupils appreciate how science enhances their lives. Positive attitudes towards scientific thinking are fostered from the very beginning of our pupils’ learning journeys, made possible by the team of subject specialists who carefully craft engaging curricula for older pupils, and who liaise with the teams across all phases of the school to ensure that all pupils are well-prepared for a scientific future. Really great teachers have excellent subject knowledge, understand how children learn, and recognise what the challenges can be with their subject. At the same time, science teaching in our schools is aimed at ensuring children are gaining essential science knowledge or “capital” which can and does help learners understand natural phenomena, and the important place science holds in changing lives and changing the world.
Teaching in the Early Years and throughout primary is centred around exploring and observing the world around us, including noticing processes and changes of state such as freezing and melting. Pupils are encouraged through adopting the doing tradition of science teaching, with hands-on practical exploration and projects which help develop a sense of excitement and curiosity. All pupils take part in a Science Week across our schools at Wellington Colleges China, complete science-based projects and take part in science competitions all of which motivate learning and allow pupils to showcase their growing knowledge to their families through presentations and poster displays. The interest of young scientists is embedded as the foundations are well-laid for understanding how science can be used to explain how things happen, predict how they behave, and analyse causes.

As children move further in their education in our international schools, they continue to follow a curriculum which mirrors yet extends the National Curriculum for England and are, of course, really inspired by the of excitement and curiosity of learning in a specialised science laboratory. Pupils are engaged by a carefully constructed curriculum which not only expands on previous experiences of investigations but also enables children to develop teamwork through group tasks, which embeds a genuine feeling of the nature of science as a career, as well as embracing the value of being Inclusive. In our Huili bilingual schools a curriculum which combines the National Curriculum for England with the expectations of the Chinese National Curriculum has been carefully developed. This bespoke Huili, bilingual curriculum enables cross-curricular thinking and learning, and science links seamlessly with the cultural understanding shared in the history curriculum which celebrates the Four Great Inventions of Ancient China- gunpowder, paper, the compass, and the printing press- which remind our learners that science has an exciting, essential and lasting impact on the world!

In our Senior Schools the curriculum is focused more on single sciences, with different Heads of Department working hard to showcase their individual subjects as children approach IGCSE. Pupils might investigate germ theory in biology for instance, explore the Atmosphere and Earth in chemistry and Forces and Electricity in physics, all taught by subject specialists in fantastically equipped science labs. This prepares students for their IB or A levels, where they have the chance to contextualise their understanding of how science works and further their grasp of approaches to science. More than exam success though, the science curriculum enables learners to think critically, and to engage deeply with a core subject through thinking like a scientist and embodying the value of Independence.

The positive attitudes towards science fostered in our schools are created through the hard work of both the pupils and their teachers. Subject specialist teachers are skilled and passionate scientists who inspire all pupils to succeed in science at IGCSE and IB or A level and influence many pupils to undertake degrees in science or applied science fields like biochemistry and engineering. It is clear that our science teams are champions at embracing the school’s values to develop independent, intellectual and inspired scientists of the future!

With special thanks to Dr Nikki Bache, former Director of Science and Technology at WCIS

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