How Science Works (UK curriculum)

The phrase ‘How science works’ (HSW) was introduced into the national curriculum in 2006, making an appearance in the revision of key stage 4. The national curriculum was revisited for key sage 3 in 2008 and the term ‘How Science Works’ was again introduced also. In this new revisited curriculum HSW has shown greater emphasis on scientific processes. The main focus of HSW was that pupils should be able to learn about science and how scientists works within society, as was included by the programme of study in KS4.

Jenny Frost (2010 ‘Learning to teach science in the secondary school’) stated:
“The science national curriculum ‘HSW’ is described under four headings.”
  •  Data, evidence, theories and explanations;
  •  Practical, problem-solving and enquiry skills;
  • Working individually and in groups, which help with communication skills;
  •  Applications and implications of science.


How Science Works allows pupils to become more attached to the science that they are learning about by relating it to their own everyday lives; mentioned:

 “HSW should be directly related to their own lifestyles and ways of life, to be able to relate and understand more.”

The idea (the dream)

Michael Reiss a co-editor for ‘Learning to Teach Science’ summarised the four bullet points of HSW as:

“how science is done and what sorts of things scientists research.” 

Reiss linked this with the idea that pupils (after leaving school) may forget about the content of science, but by the concept of HSW they will still ‘hopefully’ hold a view as to how science is done and to how trustworthy it is.

This can then be applied to their everyday lives eventually when they leave school; taking into account the skills developed rather than the knowledge or facts taken from books.

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