Oak updates

14 March 2023

Science curriculum partner and subject experts

Elisabeth Pugh

Subject Lead (science)

Elisabeth is the Science Subject Lead for Oak National Academy. Liz has worked in science education for over 20 years. She spent 15 years teaching in various settings, with 10 years as a Head of Faculty. Liz has worked as an Subject Matter Expert and Science Advisor in EdTech specialising in online learning, assessment, and feedback.

How our science curriculum is changing

I joined Oak in 2021, and am excited to be overseeing our continued evolution and offer of our primary and secondary science curriculum.

Our focus is on lowering workload and supporting teachers to increase their expertise. Over the coming year and beyond we’ll be creating a new science curriculum and a full set of teaching resources. These will all be designed to better support your planning, in-class teaching and help you develop your own curriculum.

We therefore launched a procurement process to find new partners to create our curriculum and opened recruitment for members of a science subject expert group, so that we can utilise and share the very best practice from across the sector.

We’re here for all teachers: representing the diversity of the sector has been crucial. Within science, we released a sample of lesson planning and teaching resources for KS3 and KS4 for classroom teachers to road-test and feedback, ensuring that our future teaching resources are reflecting real needs in the classroom.

We know that the education sector is rich in diversity and has a wealth of voices, experiences and knowledge to capture and reflect. We know that one size does not fit all, which is why we’re stringently testing our teaching resources: to ensure that not only are they high-quality but also highly adaptable for the varying needs of teachers and pupils across the country. This process will include collaboration from myself as Science Subject Lead, our curriculum partners and a network of subject experts (many of whom are current classroom teachers), to create, review and deploy our new offer so that it’s right for you. As we continue to grow and evolve, we remain here for classroom teachers, enabling them to continuously improve and develop as professionals.

Not only are we excited to work with our new partners in regard to the variety they will bring to Oak, we are also excited for the continued choice that we will be able to offer teachers regarding teaching resources to select and adapt. We are one of many teaching resource and curriculum suppliers, and I am delighted that we can improve this offer so that UK teachers have an even better choice of foundation materials to build upon in their classroom.

Curriculum partner

I am proud to announce that we will be collaborating with the University of York to develop an improved offer in our science curriculum. The University of York Science Education Group (UYSEG) and the Centre for Industry Education Collaboration (CIEC) will work together to develop teaching resources for teachers and pupils covering the primary and secondary science curriculum in England.

I am particularly delighted as they are respected both nationally and internationally in the field of educational research and curriculum development.

UYSEG works on the development of innovative teaching materials, based on the best available research. Their most recent curriculum package is Best Evidence Science Teaching (BEST) which is designed to help teachers to develop evidence-informed practice and provide high-quality resources for effective teaching of difficult ideas, increased student engagement, effective practical work and embedded formative assessment. CIEC works with UYSEG to develop primary-focused BEST resources, drawing upon their expertise of primary science curriculum development of the last 30 years. The BEST curriculum was funded by Salters’ Institute and the Institute of Physics and is currently accessed in collaboration with STEM Learning.

Subject experts

Working with our new curriculum partner is just the start of the process. To make sure we can meet the wide ranging needs of schools from across the country, we’ve also recruited subject experts to provide independent feedback.

Our subject experts will help to shape every aspect of our new offer, from reviewing our sequence, to providing feedback on sample teaching resources and working with us to keep improving our curriculum.

They include subject specialists and teachers with a rich wealth of classroom experience, ensuring that our teaching materials remain for teachers and by teachers. They will also bring a range of opinions, impartial expertise and valued objective feedback and challenge.

Our curriculum development process will be transparent and open: sharing our thought-process and trajectory, from the partners we are collaborating with to the thinking behind our curriculum choices.

Our subject experts are:

  • Jamie Conyard - Inspiration Trust
  • Marianne Cutler - The Association for Science Education
  • Heena Dave - Teacher Development Trust
  • Euan Douglas - Saint George Catholic College
  • Naomi Hiscock - Primary Science Education Consultancy
  • Prof. Sylvia Knight - The Royal Meteorological Society
  • Richard Lewis - Redgate Primary, Formby
  • Lauren McLeod - Royal Society of Biology
  • Helen Skelton - Beaumont School, St Albans
  • Kirsty Simkin - Reach Academy, Feltham
  • Charles Tracy - Institute of Physics
  • Dr. Nicola Treby – University of Roehampton
  • Henry Ward - d’Overbroeck’s, Oxford

Each subject expert group will also include representatives from our curriculum partner, The University of York’s Department of Education.

Our science curriculum principles

In January, it was my great privilege to share a sample of what our future teaching resources will look like in secondary science for KS3 and KS4. We have a long way to go to ensure that we have all lesson planning and teaching resources, for both primary and secondary, ready for teachers to use in autumn 2023 at the high standards we are setting.

In addition to rigorous testing and collaboration between experts across the UK, we will be building these new teaching resources based on Oak’s overarching Curriculum Principles, our guiding approach which brings coherence and quality across every subject. But, like in every subject, there are specifics in science too, so our overarching principles are supported with subject specific principles. These ensure our new curriculum is grown from a strong foundation of core values and key ingredients, resulting in a model that is cohesive and enriching. In science, this means that:

  • There will be a focus on building knowledge of key concepts in a way that reflects how knowledge is organised in the three scientific disciplines.
  • Content will pair substantive and disciplinary knowledge particularly around practical work.
  • Lessons will use a ‘big ideas’ approach to developing subject concepts.
  • Where there is a practical focus, it builds knowledge through the use of carefully planned and purposeful practical activities.
  • Where maths is taught or used in science, alignment with the sequence, language and approach used in the maths curriculum is considered.

One of Oak’s curriculum principles is diversity, and this will be a focus for subject expert groups. In addition, Oak will shortly be launching a process to appoint an organisation who specialises in this field, working across subjects and Oak’s partners to help us deliver breadth and diversity in content, language, texts, media and our teachers.

Our overall curriculum approach

These science-specific principles dovetail with our overall approach to curriculum design, and how we hope teachers can use Oak, as explained by Emma McCrea, our Head of Curriculum Design. You can also find out more about the new partners and subject experts we’re excited to be working with for the other subjects we’re redeveloping first.

Sign up for updates on our new science curriculum

Sign up below to be kept updated on our latest curriculum developments and other helpful content by email. Unsubscribe at any time. Read our privacy policy.

Email sign up