Skegness Academy

Science Mastery supports students' understanding and ignites interest beyond the classroom

Science Mastery supports students' understanding and ignites interest beyond the classroom

School context

Skegness Academy is a secondary school and sixth form in Lincolnshire.

Two years ago, engagement in science was low and there were issues with staff retention. Rob Freeman, Mastery Lead, tells us, “something had to change.”

Teacher wellbeing

The department introduced Science Mastery with the intention of increasing engagement and helping teachers’ to develop an improved work-life balance. “Improving work-life balance will help us to deliver better lessons which in turn will improve the progress of our students,” Rob explains. “And that's happened.”

“It definitely helps reduce my planning time,” Justin Shaw, Science teacher, continues. “The resources provided give a basis from which to plan more engaging lessons meaning I'm a lot happier and a lot calmer.”

Students are working harder

But this wasn’t the only effect of introducing Science Mastery. “We have improved student confidence,” says Rob. “They are now accessing extended written questions which they weren't doing before.”

Supporting great lessons with great resources

We know that teaching science is no easy feat. “Whether it's a physics lesson, biology lesson or a chemistry lesson, there is a lot of content to know and understand,” Rob explains. “The preparation booklet is good because it helps to pre-empt misconceptions and then plan for them accordingly. The PowerPoint slides are helpful because you can modify them, and the notes sections are vitally important to new teachers.”

Rob continues: “The Frayer diagrams are great because it tells the students what the keywords are breaks the understanding of them down into manageable chunks. Students know what the keywords mean at the beginning of the lesson, then they are revisited again and again.”

“There is the right amount of information,” Justin says. “The lesson slides are more accessible to SEND students and utilise dual-coding to support student understanding.” The ability to adapt the content is important. “It's great having that basis to begin with which I can adapt according to student needs.”

Scaffolding helps all students progress

Scaffolding enables Justin to adapt the curriculum for the needs of his class. “I've got a couple of different year 10 groups, and some need more scaffolding than others. I can add in some more pathways for them to get to the final answers, whereas I've got other classes that are a higher range, so I can remove the scaffolding quicker.”

The worksheets provided are a great way to support and stretch. “Because they are scaffolded, I don't need several different worksheets,” explains Justin. “I can have one set and I know that some students are just going to do section A, others can do section A and B and there'll be those that can do all three sections.”

Consistent, interlinked curriculum

For students transitioning between classes, having consistency is a benefit. “Students go from class to class and they know where they are,” says Justin. “They understand the lesson structure because it’s the same. They know the worksheets. They've got a lot less confusion.”

“I also like the fact that ‘Do Now's interleave retrieval practice,” adds Rob. “They get a lot of practice that way, revisiting the same content multiple times to aid retention.”

Partnership and support

Asked about their decision making behind selecting Science Mastery, Rob replies, “Ark Curriculum Plus has a CPD programme, comes with resources, and has research behind it. That's why we chose it initially.”

But it has become so much more than that. “The team at AC+ listens,” Rob says. “They make changes in real time in response to feedback, but also in response to research. Other providers don't do that.”

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