Incorporating the key ideas of science

Over Years 7 to 10, students develop their understanding of microscopic and atomic structures; how systems at a range of scales are shaped by flows of energy and matter and interactions due to forces. They will also develop the ability to quantify changes and relative amounts.


In Year 7, students explore the diversity of life on Earth and continue to develop their understanding of the role of classification in ordering and organising information. They use and develop models such as food chains, food webs and the water cycle to represent and analyse the flow of energy and matter through ecosystems and explore the impact of changing components within these systems. They consider the interaction between multiple forces when explaining changes in an object's motion. They explore the notion of renewable and non-renewable resources and consider how this classification depends on the timescale considered. They investigate relationships in the Earth-sun-moon system and use models to predict and explain events. Students make accurate measurements and control variables to analyse relationships between system components. They explore and explain these relationships through appropriate representations and consider the role of science in decision making processes.

By the end of Year 7, students describe techniques to separate pure substances from mixtures. They represent and predict the effects of unbalanced forces, including Earth's gravity, on motion. They explain how the relative positions of Earth, the sun and moon affect phenomena on Earth. They analyse how the sustainable use of resources depends on the way they are formed and cycle through Earth systems. They predict the effect of human and environmental changes on interactions between organisms and classify and organise diverse organisms based on observable differences. Students describe situations where scientific knowledge from different science disciplines and diverse cultures has been used to solve a real-world problem. They explain possible implications of the solution for different groups in society.

Students identify questions that can be investigated scientifically. They plan fair experimental methods, identifying variables to be changed and measured. They select equipment that improves fairness and accuracy and describe how they considered safety. Students draw on evidence to support their conclusions. They summarise data from different sources, describe trends and refer to the quality of their data when suggesting improvements to their methods. They communicate their ideas, methods and findings using scientific language and appropriate representations.


In Year 8, students are introduced to cells as microscopic structures that explain macroscopic properties of living systems. They link form and function at a cellular level and explore the organisation of body systems in terms of flows of matter between interdependent organs. Similarly, they explore changes in matter at a particle level, and distinguish between chemical and physical change. They begin to classify different forms of energy, and describe the role of energy in causing change in systems, including the role of heat and kinetic energy in the rock cycle. Students use experimentation to isolate relationships between components in systems and explain these relationships through increasingly complex representations. They make predictions and propose explanations, drawing on evidence to support their views while considering other points of view.

By the end of Year 8, students compare physical and chemical changes and use the particle model to explain and predict the properties and behaviours of substances. They identify different forms of energy and describe how energy transfers and transformations cause change in simple systems. They compare processes of rock formation, including the timescales involved. They analyse the relationship between structure and function at cell, organ and body system levels. Students examine the different science knowledge used in occupations. They explain how evidence has led to an improved understanding of a scientific idea and describe situations in which scientists collaborated to generate solutions to contemporary problems. They reflect on implications of these solutions for different groups in society.

Students identify and construct questions and problems that they can investigate scientifically. They consider safety and ethics when planning investigations, including designing field or experimental methods. They identify variables to be changed, measured and controlled. Students construct representations of their data to reveal and analyse patterns and trends, and use these when justifying their conclusions. They explain how modifications to methods could improve the quality of their data and apply their own scientific knowledge and investigation findings to evaluate claims made by others. They use appropriate language and representations to communicate science ideas, methods and findings in a range of text types.


In Year 9, students consider the operation of systems at a range of scales. They explore ways in which the human body as a system responds to its external environment and the interdependencies between biotic and abiotic components of ecosystems. They are introduced to the notion of the atom as a system of protons, electrons and neutrons, and how this system can change through nuclear decay. They learn that matter can be rearranged through chemical change and that these changes play an important role in many systems. They are introduced to the concept of the conservation of matter and begin to develop a more sophisticated view of energy transfer. They begin to apply their understanding of energy and forces to global systems such as continental movement.

By the end of Year 9, students explain chemical processes and natural radioactivity in terms of atoms and energy transfers and describe examples of important chemical reactions. They describe models of energy transfer and apply these to explain phenomena. They explain global features and events in terms of geological processes and timescales. They analyse how biological systems function and respond to external changes with reference to interdependencies, energy transfers and flows of matter. They describe social and technological factors that have influenced scientific developments and predict how future applications of science and technology may affect people's lives.

Students design questions that can be investigated using a range of inquiry skills. They design methods that include the control and accurate measurement of variables and systematic collection of data and describe how they considered ethics and safety. They analyse trends in data, identify relationships between variables and reveal inconsistencies in results. They analyse their methods and the quality of their data, and explain specific actions to improve the quality of their evidence. They evaluate others' methods and explanations from a scientific perspective and use appropriate language and representations when communicating their findings and ideas to specific audiences.


In the Year 10 curriculum students explore systems at different scales and connect microscopic and macroscopic properties to explain phenomena. Students explore the biological, chemical, geological and physical evidence for different theories, such as the theories of natural selection and the Big Bang.

Students develop their understanding of atomic theory to understand relationships within the periodic table. They understand that motion and forces are related by applying physical laws. They learn about the relationships between aspects of the living, physical and chemical world that are applied to systems on a local and global scale and this enables them to predict how changes will affect equilibrium within these systems.

By the end of Year 10, students analyse how the periodic table organises elements and use it to make predictions about the properties of elements. They explain how chemical reactions are used to produce particular products and how different factors influence the rate of reactions. They explain the concept of energy conservation and represent energy transfer and transformation within systems. They apply relationships between force, mass and acceleration to predict changes in the motion of objects. Students describe and analyse interactions and cycles within and between Earth's spheres. They evaluate the evidence for scientific theories that explain the origin of the universe and the diversity of life on Earth. They explain the processes that underpin heredity and evolution. Students analyse how the models and theories they use have developed over time and discuss the factors that prompted their review.

Students develop questions and hypotheses and independently design and improve appropriate methods of investigation, including field work and laboratory experimentation. They explain how they have considered reliability, safety, fairness and ethical actions in their methods and identify where digital technologies can be used to enhance the quality of data. When analysing data, selecting evidence and developing and justifying conclusions, they identify alternative explanations for findings and explain any sources of uncertainty. Students evaluate the validity and reliability of claims made in secondary sources with reference to currently held scientific views, the quality of the methodology and the evidence cited. They construct evidence-based arguments and select appropriate representations and text types to communicate science ideas for specific purposes.