Appendix 1: Indicators of capable practice in science

Leading science education



The principal provides leadership for the science curriculum

  • The principal and board of trustees have clear expectations and/or goals for learning in science (e.g. in the strategic plan)
  • The principal, senior management and board of trustees value and promote science teaching across the school
  • There is a shared understanding about science as an important/necessary area of the curriculum, rather than an add-on
  • There is a shared understanding about what good practice looks like in science education
  • Science is suitably resourced in terms of equipment, time and professional development
  • The principal ensures that there is suitable feedback on the quality of science teaching (e.g. through performance management or some other less formal approach)
  • Science is celebrated at the school and community level
  • Science achievement is reported to the board as part of a self-review process aimed at ongoing improvement in science teaching
  • The principal ensures that there is professional development, resources and confidence for teachers to teach science

There is a designated lead-teacher of science

  • This leader is suitably qualified in terms of the subject and pedagogical knowledge
  • This leader is able to manage the planning, assessment, classroom management and resource issues of science education
  • This leader is able to work well with other staff members to help build their confidence, planning, assessment, classroom management and overall quality of their science teaching

Planning and assessment



Science curriculum planning

  • The school has a clear plan for delivering the objectives of the science curriculum, with special emphasis on the Nature of Science strand
  • The planning shows that students have regular opportunities to undertake science, and know that they are doing science
  • The planning allows for a range of engaging activities
  • The school’s planning reflects the need for students to learn core scientific ideas, scientific process skills and have time to investigate their own ideas
  • The science learning attempts to make connections with the lives of students and/or aspects of society
  • Builds on the existing knowledge and understanding of students and allows students to apply and test their knowledge
  • Uses relevant practical work to engage students
  • Has clear learning outcomes and suitable methods for assessing the scientific skills, process and knowledge of students

The assessment of science

  • Uses the science exemplars (or some other national/local baseline matrices and/or ARBs) to help analyse individual student achievement in relation to the levels of the curriculum
  • Different forms of assessment are used to assess scientific process, skills and knowledge (including practical work)
  • The assessment is flexible to allow for individual students goals and investigations
  • The assessment information on science is collated, analysed and used to inform professional discussions, planning and teaching
  • Science achievement information is reported to the board, school community and parents
  • Students understand the specific criteria they need to meet to be successful in science activities
  • Parents receive information about student achievement in science
  • Feedback to students is focused on supporting and improving learning

Classroom teaching of science




  • Teachers are enthusiastic about teaching science
  • Teachers have a sound pedagogical and subject knowledge base
  • The teacher has high expectations for student achievement

Teaching strategies

  • Teachers establish students’ alternative conceptions/prior knowledge as part of teaching
  • Teachers make connections to the lives of students, aspects of society and the ideas in other subjects
  • Teachers build on the existing knowledge and understanding of students
  • Teachers help students develop core scientific ideas while investigating their own ideas
  • Teachers use a range of engaging, relevant practical activities with students
  • Teachers use of a wide range of strategies to engage different groups of students, e.g. Pacific, Māori, boys and girls
  • Teachers use strategies that take into account the religious ideas of some students
  • Teachers use technology, as appropriate, to support and extend student’s learning

Classroom management

  • The classroom management strategies enable students to move safely around the classroom
  • The learning environment is challenging, but safe and inclusive
  • Teachers can give good instructions to ensure that students can safely carry out the lesson

Student achievement

  • Students are achieving in line with/or above the curriculum expectations
  • Students see themselves as successful (high self efficacy)

Student engagement

  • Students like doing science at school
  • Students are motivated by their classroom science activities
  • Students think they are learning well in science
  • Students are enthusiastic about doing more science at school

Integration of careers teaching into science

(Years 7 and 8 especially)

  • Students have an opportunity to investigate scientific careers
  • Students have an opportunity to hear about, or observe, the work of science-based careers
  • Students see the relevance of science to their futures