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Assessing Science Attainment Target 1


The UK National Curriculum defines Science as a core subject (along with English and Maths) at all key stages and divides the subject into four areas:

  • Sc1:Scientific enquiry

  • Sc2:Life processes and living things

  • Sc3:Materials and their properties

  • Sc4:Physical processes

Each area is defined by a set of attainment targets (which determine each pupil's level of attainment) and is associated with a (non-statutory) scheme of work provided by QCA.


To reference the programme of study for all key stages, attainment targets and schemes of work - log on to the National Curriculum homepage and follow link to the Science page.


Whereas the latter three areas (because they are predominantly content-based) can be assessed by means of written tests, assessing Scientific enquiry is best done within the context of practical scientific investigation.


As well as being taught the importance of gathering evidence when attempting to answer questions of a scientific nature, pupils should be taught how to:

  • Plan an investigation

  • Obtain and record evidence

  • Present evidence

  • Consider evidence

  • Evaluate their investigation

The following grid is intended to assist teachers as they seek to assess pupils' levels of attainment within this area of the science curriculum.








Ideas and evidence in science



  • Pupils recognise that scientific ideas are based on evidence.

  • Pupils describe (with examples) how experimental evidence and creative thinking have been combined to provide scientific explanation.

Planning an investigation

  • Pupils respond to suggestions about how to find things out.

  • With help, they suggest how to collect data to answer questions.

  • Pupils respond to suggestions and put forward their own ideas about how to find the answer to a question.

  • They recognise why it is important to collect data to answer questions.

  • In their own investigations, pupils decide on an appropriate approach to answer a question.

  • Pupils select suitable equipment for carrying out their investigation.

  • Where appropriate, pupils make predictions.

  • When trying to answer a scientific question, pupils identify an appropriate approach.

  • Pupils select suitable apparatus for the investigation and plan to use it effectively.

  • Where appropriate, pupils make predictions based on their scientific knowledge and understanding.

Obtaining evidence

  • Pupils use simple texts, with help, to find information.

  • Pupils use simple equipment provided and make observations related to the task.

  • They observe and compare objects, living things and events.

  • Pupils use simple texts to find information.

  • Pupils make observations and use a range of simple equipment to measure quantities (e.g. length, mass, volume).

  • Where appropriate, they carry out a fair test (with some help) recognising and explaining why it is fair..

  • Pupils select information from sources provided for them.

  • Where appropriate, pupils show that they understand "fair testing" procedure (varying one factor whilst keeping others the same).

  • Pupils make a series of observations and measurements that are adequate for the task.

  • Pupils select from a range of information sources.

  • When the investigation involves "fair testing", pupils identify key factors to be considered.

  • Pupils make a series of observations, comparisons or measurements with precision appropriate to the task.

  • Pupils begin to repeat observations and measurements and to offer simple explanations for any differences encountered.

Recording & presenting evidence

  • Pupils describe their observations using scientific vocabulary and record them, using simple tables where appropriate.

  • Pupils record their observations in a variety of ways.

  • Pupils record their observations, comparisons and measurements using tables and bar charts.

  • Pupils begin to plot simple graphs.

  • Pupils record observations and measurements systematically.

  • Where appropriate, pupils present data as line graphs.

Considering evidence

  • Pupils say whether what happened was what they expected.

  • Pupils provide explanations for their observations and for simple patterns in recorded measurements.

  • Pupils communicate in a scientific way what they have found out.

  • Pupils point out and begin to interpret patterns in their collected data.

  • Pupils begin to draw conclusions from these patterns related to their scientific knowledge and understanding.

  • Pupils communicate their conclusions with appropriate scientific language.

  • Pupils draw conclusions that are consistent with the evidence and begin to relate these to scientific knowledge and understanding.

  • Pupils use appropriate scientific language to communicate quantitative and qualitative data.

Evaluating an investigation


  • Pupils suggest improvements to their work.

  • Pupils suggest improvements to their work, giving reasons.

  • Pupils make practical suggestions about how their working methods could be improved.


  Click here to download this grid (and individual pupil assessment sheets) as a pdf file  
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