Ark Kings Academy

Science Mastery is supporting non-specialist teachers at Ark Kings Academy

Science Mastery is supporting non-specialist teachers at Ark Kings Academy

School context

Ark Kings Academy is an all through school for children aged 3-16 in Birmingham. They have used Science Mastery at KS3 since September 2019, and at KS4 since September 2023. Head of Science, Ashana Jesmin, and Science teacher, Janine Sacks, tell us how valuable it is for non-specialist teachers.

Repurposing teacher time

“I found a huge difference for me, not coming from a physics background,” explains Janine. Until that point, she had been teaching from slides created by a previous teacher, who had been teaching physics for 15 years. “There was a lot more work for me to do.”

Since the department started using Science Mastery, “it's changed hugely for me,” Janine says. “My content is there and it's perfectly arranged. I just need to tweak it for my class. It is so well structured and the slides flow really nicely. It's made a huge difference to my time. I'm not working as much on slides during the holidays.”

Janine also values the unit preparation booklet – the starting point for teachers when planning lessons. It’s brilliant. It tells you exactly where to go.”

Teachers have time for more impactful activities

“I am using my time differently,” Janine tells us. “I'm thinking about the questions differently. I'm planning differently now. I'm looking ahead at revision interventions, things that I wouldn't have necessarily had the time to even consider before.”

Ashana agrees. “If you're not a subject specialist, you can't identify what the plausible distractors are. With Science Mastery, the exposition and misconceptions are there for you. You just have to think about the best way to put it forward to the class you have in context.”

Getting ready for exams

Science Mastery is preparing students well for exams, with a focus on exam technique as well as exam-style questions.

“It matches AQA perfectly,” says Janine.

Before Science Mastery, students seemed to know the content in lessons but weren’t performing in exams. “When you’d say ‘compare’ to students, they thought it was only the differences, whereas no, it's the similarities as well,” Ashana explains. Science Mastery teaches students to understand what the exam questions are really asking. “What does this describe question mean? What does an explain question mean? What does an evaluate question mean? They were lacking those exam skills.”

Delivering for all students

“I've seen a huge difference between my year 10s and my year 11s from last year to this year,” says Janine. She is able to stretch her higher reaching students using the scaffolded worksheets. “There's a part A, B and C. I love that C part for my high attainers. They never get bored.”

“One feedback students gave before was that we didn't have enough discussions,” reveals Ashana. Science Mastery provides questions to prompt dialogue. “I really like those true false statements. Do you agree? Who is correct? Who is incorrect? Or what's wrong with this statement here? How would you correct it? Those are nice, collaborative activities that we use with the students.”

“Instead of thinking about the question,” Ashana adds, “you are thinking about building that culture and environment in the classroom. How am I going to make sure that my students are speaking about it?”

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