KS3 Science Explained

Keystage 3 or KS3 begins when children leave primary school and enter into secondary education. It marks the beginning of the build up to GCSE studies. As such, students will learn and take lessons in a variety of subjects including science.


KS3 Science presents a fundamental shift from the science lessons that children will have in primary school. Much of the theory is replaced by genuine experiments complete with theory and a designed hypothesis.


As a core subject, science is taught in ability sets through KS3. however, regardless of which ability set child falls into, the curriculum will remain unchanged. The key difference is that higher sets will be working towards more advanced levels. At the same time, the lower sets will be offered more support that they do typically need.


KS3 stands for key stage 3 and will begin as children enter secondary school, ending at year 9. As such, most students in KS3 will be between the ages of 12 and 14.


What Does The KS3 Science Syllabus Include:


The syllabus includes all three main areas of science:


  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Biology


It builds on topics that children already studied through their years in primary school. As such, pupils will be exploring topics that they are familiar with but at a more advanced level. As noted, they will be working in laboratories and will often carry out experiments. The results of these experiments gain more of a focus too. Students will be shown how to record and analyse the results.


The aim here is to ensure that children can develop three areas of scientific learning such as:


  • Understanding of evidence
  • Communication
  • Practical and enquiry skills


Over three years children will study a range of different topics including:


  • Energy, electricity, and forces
  • Chemical and material behaviour
  • The environment, earth, and the universe
  • Organisms, behaviour, and health
  • The environment, earth, and the universe


Since there is no formal plan, these subjects can be taught in any order and will be spread out over two of three years depending on the school. Each area also has a range of different subtopics that a child will be taught too. For instance, the environment, earth, and universe will include:


  • Weathering of rocks
  • Motions of the moon, planets, stars, and sun
  • Changes within the environment and their causes


Organisms, behaviour, and health will cover topics like:


  • Life processes
  • Human reproduction
  • Adolescence
  • Healthy eating and the importance of exercise
  • Food chains
  • Dissection
  • Variation in living things


How Will KS3 Science Be Assessed?


As of 2009, there are no national assessments that are established as part of the KS3 science curriculum. Due to this, teachers are given the freedom to arrange as many or as few tests as they like. As such, KS3 science could be entirely assessed based on the completion of coursework. Although, it’s common for schools to have at least a few tests through the school year and potentially one formal assessment. This is important to determine whether students are absorbing the information and developing the necessary skills in key areas.


KS3 Science Learning At Home


Students will typically be given science homework as part of the KS3 curriculum. Indeed, typically, it’s expected that pupils will complete a couple of hours of science homework each week ontop of the total 3 hours that are completed during school time.


As well as homework, schools will often recommend that parents increase their child’s learning in a variety of ways such as:


  • Home setup experiments
  • Tools such as a pH testing kit
  • Using a telescope to look at the different planets


Aims Of KS3 Science


There are numerous aims and goals of KS3 science for the teacher and the pupil. First, it is important to understand the connection between KS3 science and GCSE Science. Ideas and concepts are developed in key stage 3 to ensure that they can be used proficiently in key stage 4.


In most cases, students will have been studying the sicences for eight or nine years by the time they begin the GCSE course. To reach their full potential, it is crucial that they have mastered fundamental ideas and skills.


Students can complete KS3 and gain the knowledge they need to move to KS4. However, it is allso important that they understand how to apply this knowledge effectively. The aim is to ensure that different principles and models can be connected with key concepts.


The subtopics listed above are some of the concepts that can be used to ensure that students have a full and deeper understanding of the larger topic areas that will be relevant through KS4 as well as GSCE Science.


An example of this would be when students learn about ‘speed.’ Students will be required to know things such as relative motion and acceleration. They will also be provided with skills like using formulas such as speed = distance/time. However, they will also need to apply this knowledge. An example could be creating time-distance graphs while labeling different changes that are present in motion. Students could also be asked to describe how the speed of an object can vary when it is measured by observers who are not moving. This is one of the ways it's possible to assess their knowledge and understanding at KS3 level.


Another goal of KS3 science will be to teach pupils how to work scientificalls and approach learning the correct way. This includes a variety of skills such as how to analyse scientific patterns. Again, this goes beyond learning the knowledge as pupils will also need to understand how to apply it in a variety of different areas and situations.


Throughout KS3 students will learn how to analyse scientific data, discuss the data that has been collected, draw the key conclusions, and present the data in a way that can be understood. They will also discover how to develop ideas, approach criticisms of their ideas from the data, and even justify the opinions that they have presented. These are just some of the elements included in KS3 that will ensure students learn how to work scientifically, asking the right questions, and gathering the necessary conclusions.



Think Smart Academy

Over 10 years of experience

Get a Free Expert Consultation

We invite you to our Slough tuition centre, for a presentation and walk through on how we will help your child pass their exams.