Science Intent and Rationale


At Marlborough, we aim to develop the children’s curiosity about the world around them and encourage a sense of excitement and awe at natural phenomena and scientific processes. Our Science curriculum places emphasis on practical learning opportunities where the children can explore and learn to ask questions which they can then answer themselves through scientific enquiry. Through investigation, we nurture independence and communication skills as the children work on increasingly complex ideas to match their own maturity and prepare them for life beyond primary education. Throughout their learning journey at Marlborough, teachers will develop children’s self-confidence as they are encouraged to make connections between their prior knowledge and what they see, learning to suggest their own theories. This is developed into critical thinking where the children hone their resilience to challenge their results and suggest improvements.



Children begin their time at Marlborough exploring their surroundings and asking questions to clarify their understanding. Throughout the year they observe seasonal changes, with a focus on weather patterns and plant life, learning to draw pictures to correctly demonstrate leaf colour or blooms where appropriate. In winter, they explore the changes in water when it freezes and when it melts, through play with ice cubes. They are challenged to discover how the size and thickness changes the speed at which it melts. Knowledge and understanding of the melting is reinforced throughout the year through cooking where, for example, the children melt chocolate understanding that temperature helps things to melt more quickly.

In spring, the children begin to explore animals and their life cycles by observing duck eggs develop and grow into a chick. A range of animals are introduced (caterpillar, frogspawn and farm animals) and the children observe their development noting the changes and some similarities and differences. They also begin to use handheld magnifiers with insect viewers in their minibeasts topic where they explore where they live and why.

Forces and materials are introduced as children explore magnetic materials learning to sort them into magnetic and not magnetic. They are challenged to build structures with them. They also look at materials that float and sink with the challenge to make floating objects sink and vice versa. Later they are challenged to apply their understanding by using junk modelling to make a boat that floats.

Year 1

In year 1, the children begin to build on some of the concepts they observed in EYFS and deepen their understanding. They continue to observe seasonal changes in the weather and the impact this has on plants, expanding their scientific vocabulary to include deciduous trees and the names of common British trees that they see around them. They also begin to understand why some trees drop their leaves in winter associating this with shorter days and a colder climate recognising that evergreen trees such as pines can often be found in colder climates.

Building on from their experience of animals in EYFS, in year 1 the children broaden their experience of different animals to include common animals from each classification (mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and birds). They learn to name and sort them into groups based on their physical appearance and their diet (omnivore, herbivore and carnivore). Building on this understanding, they learn to name and label parts of the human body. Through practical enquiry, the children learn to associate the 5 senses with specific body parts and are introduced to the idea of testing to further their understanding of the world and that keeping things the same makes it fair.

As the seasons change, they continue to build on their understanding of blooms in EYFS to being able to identify and label the simple parts of a flowering plant.

In the Summer term, the children are introduced to materials by distinguishing objects from the materials they are made out of and identifying a variety of common materials such as wood, metal, plastic, glass and rock. They begin to describe their simple physical properties and group them based on these.

Throughout their time in year 1, their curiosity will be nurtured as they are encouraged and taught how to ask questions. They will learn to observe the world around them to help in answering their questions and begin to present scientific information in simple drawings and labelled diagrams. They will be encouraged to develop their own ideas and explanations in response to observations and pictures. Children will learn to group animals and plants based on observable features.

Year 2

In year 2, children start the year by furthering their understanding of plants and animals by looking at the differences between things that are living, dead or have never been alive. From this, they begin to understand the basic needs of animals and look at how the different habitats provide for these needs including how they depend on each other and plants within the habitat.  They expand their skills in recording scientific information from year 1 to include food chains understanding the direction of the arrow represents the flow of energy.

By Spring term, the children revisit the basic needs of animals with a focus on humans. They look at their diet and record their eating habits in a food diary. With the support of a teacher, the children begin to look carefully at their results, to support them in understanding that in order to stay healthy, humans need a balanced diet. They begin to separate food into groups understanding that meals should have a balance of different food groups (using their lunch as a practical example). They look at the impact of a high diet of fat, sugars and salts understanding that this can make people unhealthy. Adding to this, the children look at other aspects of human health including the importance of exercise and good hygiene.

In summer, the children build on their understanding of the structure of plants to look at their basic needs and the life cycle of a plant from a bulb or seed. They plant seeds and practise careful observation to watch the seed grow. They will develop their recording skills to include drawing as well as adding labels to explain what is happening at specific time intervals (using vocabulary developed in year 1).

Throughout their time in year 2, the children will build on their observational skills from year 1 learning to look more closely and begin to use scientific equipment such as magnifiers. They will also begin to apply prior knowledge to their observations and suggest reasons for what they can see. They will revisit their understanding from year 1 that tests help us to learn new things and the idea of keeping things the same is reinforced. As their knowledge grows, they will learn to identify and group animals and plants in more ways using scientific language.

Year 3

In year 3, the children are introduced to the topic of Light where they build on their understanding of properties of materials, with a focus on light. They use the scientific language developed in year 1 and 2 to sort materials into reflective and non-reflective and opaque, translucent and transparent. They will explore their understanding of shadows and investigate what influences the shape and size of them.

Building on their understanding of magnetic materials in EYFS, in year 3, the children develop their understanding of forces, recognising that some forces need contact between objects but magnetic forces can act at a distance. The children continue to develop their experimental skills by furthering their understanding of fair testing through discussions as a class of how they can keep things the same (control variables). As the year progresses, the children will become increasingly aware of what variables exist in an experiment and become more independent in suggesting how they can be controlled using their experiences of enquiry from KS1 and building on them in year 3.

Year 3 are also introduced to the topic of rocks where they revisit the general properties of rock from year 1 and 2 and develop this to distinguish between the properties of different types of rocks and their role in helping us to understand the past through fossils. They will look at how rocks are formed and investigate their basic properties, learning to make decisions about suitable uses. This will link to their history topic to aid their understanding of the types of rocks people used in the Stone Age and why.  They will also look at how soil is formed and investigate differences in soil types, linking this to what they were made from.

In the summer, the children continue to develop their understanding of the human diet by recognising that we rely on the food we eat to get vital nutrition. Children also develop their recording skills as they learn to use keys to identify the purpose and function of the human skeleton as well as the function of muscles for support, protection and movement. They will reinforce their understanding of the requirements of a plant from year 2 by conducting an experiment to isolate these basic needs and observe what happens. The children will be able to suggest what elements need to be kept the same and will be introduced to the idea of a control (one seed will be treated normally – given water, light, good soil etc.) to test their experiments against. Building on this, they will look at function of each part of the plant through observations and experiences where they will deepen their understanding by drawing conclusions from what they observe. For example, they will look at the role of a flower in reproduction, highlighting the role of bees and other insects in pollination and the role of fruit for seed dispersal.

From Autumn term in year 3, the children are introduced to fair testing and encouraged to recognise where they can keep things the same (building on work in KS1). They will develop their experimental skills throughout the year as they are introduced to more scientific equipment and measures such as distance (cm). As their knowledge grows in complexity, so will their recording methods as they are introduced to various tables and learn to complete them with values as well as ticks/ crosses and drawings (from KS1). They will conduct their experiments in small groups following a model from the teacher and discuss their results as a class. As they develop an understanding of scientific enquiry, they will be encouraged to develop their own questions and become more involved in discussions on how the test should be run. They will also be introduced to predictions as they draw on skills from year 2 to apply their current knowledge to a new scenario.

Year 4

The children begin year 4 by continuing to develop their understanding of the human body. They will learn about  the simple functions of the digestive system including teeth and the importance of mouth hygiene where they will revisit their knowledge of keys from year 2 and 3 as a way of recording information. Building on from their work in year 2 on food chains, the children learn to create and interpret a wider range of food chains and webs, developing their understanding of producers, predators and prey, linking this to the habitat and how they are dependent on each other.

Later in the Autumn Term, they will begin to look at states of matter, building on their learning from EYFS and their knowledge of materials and their properties from KS1. In this unit, they will continue to develop more complex recording of scientific information through diagrams of the molecules within solids, liquids and gases. They will build on their everyday experiences of these states of matter and learn to further their understanding by controlling variables in practical experiments. They will expand on their use of scientific equipment to include accurate use of a thermometer, measuring cylinders and beakers. Throughout the year, year 4 pupils will be encouraged to be increasingly independent in their enquiries as they control variables and collect readings as a group. They will also be supported to expand their understanding of how data should be recorded using their experiences in KS1 and year 3 to build on. With support from the teachers they will begin to independently reflect on what their results show.

In the Spring term, year 4 are introduced to the topic of sound where they build on their everyday understanding and use practical enquiry to understand how sounds are created and travel to our ears. They will be encouraged to follow their own lines of enquiry, as they continue to build independence, to draw conclusions with supplied equipment and an emphasis on observing patterns. This focus on enquiry is further developed in the topic of electricity where the children construct simple series circuits and learn to identify common appliances that run on electricity. They will investigate what is needed for a complete circuit and working bulb or motor, recognising that switches can break the circuit. Through this topic they will also identify and group materials on whether they will conduct electricity, identifying that metal is one of the best. Through their enquiry, they will begin to consider the limitations of experiments conducted in school, recognising that our results can point to an incorrect conclusion if components are not working as they should.

In the Summer term, the children revisit their understanding of states of matter by studying the water cycle combining this understanding with their geography knowledge and linking it to climates across the world. The skill of grouping living things in different ways is also revisited before moving on to learning about the broad classifications of vertebrates and invertebrates. They will explore simple classification keys (building on their work with keys in Year 2 and 3) learning some of the characteristics of each group and how to identify them. They will continue to broaden their skills in recording data from year 3 to include Venn diagrams. Building on their work on habitats in year 2, they will look at how they can change due to natural disasters or human impact. They will learn to gather data from secondary sources and interpret it to draw and present their own conclusions about the impact. In this unit, the children will learn about current threats to wildlife.

Throughout year 4, the children continue to develop their independent enquiry skills as they learn to draw on their experiences in previous year groups and apply this understanding to new scenarios. They will independently suggest how to control variables in a given experiment (building on their knowledge from year 3) and develop their own lines of enquiry after a discussion as a class. They will begin to learn the structure of recording scientific information, understanding that in a table the variable that we change (independent variable) goes on the left and the change that we are measuring (dependent variable) goes on the right. As the year progresses, the children will begin to suggest a table format in discussions with the class. In addition to this, the children will be able to reflect on their results with increasing independence, building on work in year 2 and 3, and are introduced to the idea of precision in their measurements (using smaller increments can increase precision). The children are also introduced to the term evaluation as they reflect on the accuracy of school equipment, with the support of an adult, and the limitations we face in controlling variables.

Year 5

In year 5, the children build on their understanding of animals and classification from previous years by comparing their life cycles with a particular focus on metamorphosis as well as the differences between mammals and other classifications where they lay eggs. They will build on their work in year 4 on Venn diagrams and use them as a comparative tool for life cycles. They will also build on their understanding of states of matter to learn about solutions and mixtures, including how to separate them. As with year 4, they will continue to develop their independent experimental skills by using scientific equipment with increasing accuracy to include pipettes for measuring small volumes of liquid. They will learn to pose questions that develop their current understanding and with support design experiments that will answer them. With support, they will begin to suggest future experiments to deepen their understanding and answer new questions. They will also learn to explain their results using their knowledge. Building on the critical thinking developed in year 4, the children will learn about anomalous results and how to make their enquiries more precise.

In the spring term, year 5 focus on Earth and space learning to identify evidence that has been used to support or refute scientific ideas in the past, including the idea that Earth was flat and developing their skills at using secondary sources on information. They will revisit and develop their geography skills by linking lines of longitude to the apparent movement of the Sun across the sky and conduct enquiries using globes and torches to deepen their understanding. They will explore how the Earth’s rotation causes day and night and the orbit of the planets in our solar system around the Sun. They will also describe the Moon’s orbit of Earth including the phases of the Moon by applying their understanding of Earth’s day and night. Building on their knowledge of our solar system, the children will learn about the force of gravity and how this keeps us on the Earth. They will look at how this theory was developed by Isaac Newton and conduct their own experiments to look at how the force of gravity can be manipulated. The children will broaden their experience of experiments, building on their work on forces in year 3 to increase the precision of their measurements, their independence in controlling variables and working as a group, as well as reflecting on what their results tell them with increasing independence.

In the summer term the children will continue to develop their independence in setting up enquiries by conducting their own lines of enquiry from developing the question to writing a conclusion and evaluating its accuracy in the context of forces and how they influence objects. To develop this idea further, the children will create their own cams and pulley mechanism in DT, to explore how we can use these to allow a smaller force to have a greater effect. Before transitioning into year 6, the children will also revisit their knowledge of life cycles to review it in the context of plants. They will further their experimental skills by dissecting a flower and focus on how plants reproduce both sexually and asexually. From there, they will look at reproduction in animals comparing the differences between internal and external fertilization. They will also look more in depth at the human life cycle and what changes occur as humans develop into old age. This includes revisiting the topic of puberty from their PSHE work in year 5 and builds on their understanding of fertilisation in humans from year 4. They will look at the gestation period of humans and compare this to other animals by plotting a scatter graphs to help interpret the data.

Throughout year 5, the children build on their questioning skills that began in KS1 and are encouraged to pose questions that further their understanding using the examples from year 3 and 4 to help them. They will develop their recording skills to suggest an appropriate layout for a table or results, using their knowledge from year 4, while also learning how to plot a line and scatter graph. They will understand the importance of these as they are taught to use them to analyse results and draw conclusions from the data (also building on work in year 3 and 4). In year 5, they will continue to develop their evaluation skills from year 4 to become more independent and address a wider range of factors that could have influenced their data. Finally, with the support of a teacher they begin to design experiments that will answer their questions and further their understanding of a new concept.

Year 6

In year 6, they revisit their knowledge of classification keys and the broad groups of vertebrates and invertebrates from year 4 to develop a deeper understanding of why they are classified in these groups, building on knowledge developed in year 5. They will look at increasingly complex classification keys and be able to classify living things into groups including microorganisms and explain why they belong in those groups using scientific characteristics. From there, they will explore how living things have changed over time by revisiting their knowledge of fossils from year 3 and using secondary sources of information to understand how Charlies Darwin reached his theory of evolution. They will build on their understanding of reproduction in year 5 (that offspring inherit characteristics from their parents but are not identical to either one) to include the idea of random mutation and go on to explain how plants and animals are adapted to suit their environment.

In the spring term, year 6 will revisit the impact of diet, exercise and good hygiene on the human body including the effects of drugs. They will deepen their understanding of the impact and how to stay healthy by linking this to our circulatory system.  They will recognise this as the transport system in humans just as they learn about transportation of water in plants in year 3. They will conduct their own lines of enquiry on the impact of exercise on the heart, learning to control variables and recognising that where this is not possible it may cause inaccuracies in their results. They will continue to develop their scientific recording by using diagrams, drawings, keys and tables of increasing complexity.

In their final term, the children will revisit their understanding of light from year 3 and build on this to understand that light travels in straight lines. They will use enquiry based learning to explore natural phenomena with light and draw increasingly complex diagrams to explain how we see. They will also revisit the electricity topic from year 4 and develop it further to understand how they can influence the brightness of a bulb in a series circuit and learn to draw circuit diagrams with the correct scientific symbols. Children will be encouraged to work with increasing independence drawing on the skills they have learnt throughout their time at Marlborough. They will also be encouraged to explore their own lines of enquiry safely, with the aim of furthering their understanding.

In year 6, as the children learn about increasingly complex scientific concepts they are required to use secondary sources to further their understanding and recognise the limitations of school equipment. They are encouraged to apply their learning from year 4 and 5 to pose interesting questions which further their understanding and allow them to conduct independent enquiry in school using the available equipment. Children will be able to choose appropriate methods of measurement, taking into account the level of precision that is needed by developing their understanding from year 5 and drawing on their experiences of a range of equipment from previous year groups. They will also be able to independently design a suitable table or graph to record and analyse their results in so that they can draw accurate conclusions with increasing complexity. They will revisit plotting line and scatter graph from year 5 to reinforce its usefulness in analysing data. Building on their work in year 5, they will be able to independently evaluate their enquiry and its accuracy.



Additional Opportunities

In addition to the curriculum outlined above, we also offer enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities including:

  • Visits to our local high school for upper KS2 pupils to take part in science days.
  • An after school club for Year 1-6, run by Mad Science. This year, nearly 70 of our pupils have attended!