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Science for CE 13+: How we set out to cover the revised ISEB Science specification
By Ron Pickering
11 Feb

The ISEB Common Entrance Science 13+ specification has been updated for first teaching from September 2021. To support teachers and pupils as they work through the new specification, we’re publishing a new Common Entrance 13+ Science series which is mapped to the new specification.

The revised Common Entrance Science 13+ specification has a reduced content and an update to the type of assessment of students' performance. The specification also emphasises the importance of practical and analytical skills.

The new Science for CE 13+ textbook ensures:

  • All the learning outcomes are covered, both in terms of content and forms of assessment
  • All the suggested practical activities are described, as well as providing guidance in designing other appropriate examples

The learning outcomes have three command words, which are featured throughout the new Science textbook for ease of reference:

  • Know – specifies knowledge to be learned and recalled
  • Understand – requires pupils to apply their knowledge to familiar and novel situations
  • Recognise – requires pupils to show an awareness of the significance of their knowledge and understanding to science and society

The assessment style shows a move away from a predominance of recall to a greater emphasis on understanding and awareness of significance. We made sure that this change is accommodated in the way the content is presented and in the examples of questions used in Science for Common Entrance at 13+.

The reduction in content means that it has been possible to condense the three current Science books (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) into a single volume. The single volume format is more convenient for both teachers and students – fewer books to carry from place to place!

The aims of the syllabus are broad but particularly include:

  • To develop an awareness of the impact of developments in technology on the environment
  • To develop an ability to evaluate and communicate scientific evidence
  • To develop an awareness of science as a social and cultural activity, which has responsibilities, strengths and limitations

Each of these is a feature of the new textbook, building on the format of the current three separate volumes but taking into account updates and changes in content.

The new specification and textbook enable candidates to acquire a sound foundation of knowledge and understanding for future studies, and facilitate the smooth transfer between schools in the independent and maintained sectors of education.

This is a particular strength of the new textbook. Whilst recognising that there has been a reduction in the extent of content, the new textbook includes necessary changes to content for examination at 13+ and offers ‘Go further/Go forward’ material to be taught post-13+ examination and act as a bridge to KS3.

The revised syllabus also emphasises ‘Thinking and Working as a Scientist’. The new book builds on the current CE titles as it provides:

  • Clear instructions on forming a hypothesis
  • Clear explanation of experimental design, particularly the understanding of variables
  • Descriptions of chemical and physical tests, and the safe and appropriate use of apparatus
  • Guidance on the presentation of results, as tables and in graphical form
  • Brief outlines of the contributions made to our scientific understanding by scientists of the past, including those made by the BAME community and by female scientists such as Mary Anning, Mary Seacole and Katherine Johnson
  • Cross-curricular links between the Science specification and both Mathematics and Geography
  • Links between Science and PSHE, encouraging students to discuss current issues in Science.

In summary, we made sure that the new book matches the revised ISEB Science specification in that:

  • It precisely covers the content required for Science at 13+ Common Entrance, including new and updated material
  • The end-of-topic questions reflect the style of the new sample examination papers
  • It emphasises the scientific principles involved in practical work
  • It illustrates the correct presentation of scientific data and shows links to Mathematics, Environmental Science and PSHE
  • It offers extension material to challenge high achieving students, and to allow smooth transfer between 13+ and secondary school Science courses.

Students can check their understanding as the answers to embedded questions are available as a downloadable PDF. Other supporting resources from Galore Park include a Revision Guide and Exam Practice Questions and Answers book which will be publishing in 2022.

Ron Pickering has worked in both maintained and independent education for more than 30 years, including as a Science Advisor and Curriculum Manager at Altrincham Grammar School for Girls, as well as a Science Inspector for OFSTED. He now divides his time between teacher training, both in the UK and overseas, and writing, and has written numerous successful books covering the GCSE, IGCSE and A Level Science specifications. Find out more about Ron here.

The new Common Entrance 13+ Science for ISEB CE and KS3 Textbook and Textbook Answers will be publishing in Summer 2021. These new resources are for first teaching from September 2021 and for first examinations in November 2022. Learn more about our new Science for Common Entrance series and pre-order the new resources here.

The new resources map to the new ISEB specification for Science for Common Entrance at 13+. Find out more about the new specification and its aims here.

Tags: 13+, 13+ Common Entrance, 13 plus, Common Entrance, Entrance exams, Independent School Examination Board, ISEB, Key Stage 3, Ron Pickering, school entrance exams, Science, Science Exam

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