Oak updates

1 August 2023

Collaborating with our science expert group

Elisabeth Pugh

Subject Lead (science)

We were delighted to announce, back in March, the curriculum partners and expert groups that would be collaborating with our subject leads to provide independent feedback and advice so we best meet the needs and diversity of the country’s education sector.

Our expert groups have now met twice, firstly to hear about the curriculum partners and subject leads’ initial plans for their new primary and secondary curricula and how they would be involved as experts. More recently, they discussed threads, curriculum explanations and curriculum sequencing, as well as science-specific elements outlined below.

Curriculum explainer statement

We sought views on the quality of the curriculum explainer statement.

What is a curriculum explainer statement?

When you look at an Oak curriculum for the first time you will want to understand its intentions and how we reflect these. We have prepared curriculum explainer statements to articulate our vision to educators in a clear and concise manner.

Our expert’s thoughts on our curriculum explainer statement

The curriculum explainer statement was well received by the group. It was felt that the statement encompassed our science curriculum principles well and that the evidence-informed design was clear.


We sought views on the threads selected for each subject to ensure they are suitable and meaningful.

What is a thread?

There’s agreement across the sector that one approach to curriculum coherence is to identify groups of units across the curriculum that explicitly build a common body of knowledge. What is not agreed, is a common language to describe these groups. Concepts, big ideas, themes and threads are all used to describe these groups often in relation to a specific subject.

We have decided to use the term threads to represent these links like the visual concept of a thread weaving through the curriculum.

Our experts’ take on threads

We asked our subject experts if they felt the threads initially chosen for science would help to organise a curriculum successfully in a way that was useful for teachers.

Our science curriculum will be organised by the use of ‘big questions’ as threads. The expert group discussed this and will be consulted on this further when more detail is available.

Whilst most were deemed to be sensibly placed, some questions based on the feedback given will be revisited to ensure that knowledge is built in a logical way and that the sequence of some of the questions is the most appropriate.

The group also discussed the challenge of posing questions suitable for both primary and secondary but was reassured that the focus on the knowledge underneath each question will ensure that knowledge is successfully built upon across all year groups.

Quality of the curriculum sequence

We sought views on the quality of the sequence of units within the subject curriculum.

Feedback on the curriculum sequence from our experts

At this early stage, science subject experts were shown the unit titles, threads and lesson titles.

Discussions contained many positives, with many of our expert group commenting on the logical progression through the units and the placement of certain topics earlier in the year was pleasing to our experts too.

Experts raised that having multiple threads linked to units may impact the overall cohesion of the curriculum as with some topics there could be a large number of linking threads. In the design of the curriculum sequence, we chose the most meaningful threads for each unit and limited the number of threads to a maximum of three per unit.

Experts were pleased to see additional content to enrich primary science lessons, beyond those outlined in the national curriculum. It was asked whether these additional elements would be made clear to teachers so that they are aware of which objectives are statutory. As a result of this discussion, all primary enrichment activities have been marked as optional.

We sincerely value the range of opinions and impartial expertise that our expert groups are lending us during this exciting time as we build our new curricula and teaching resources. We will reflect on this vital feedback as we continue to develop our curriculum sequences and teaching resources.

If you have any feedback you wish to share on topics discussed above please do get in touch at [email protected].

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You can view our new primary and secondary curriculum plans now. Teaching resources for every unit and lesson in the plans will be rolled out over this school year.

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