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 has clear expectations and/or goals for learning in science (eg 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 (eg 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
  • Is able to manage the planning, assessment, classroom management and resource issues of science education
  • 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 also 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 also 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