Our ethos

Science is a dynamic, growing and exciting practical subject. At Dunhurst, children are able to express and develop their scientific ideas. Their further learning is then inspired by the opportunities to check their ideas against experimental evidence. Children will complete experiments every week, as it is through experience that they best challenge or confirm their beliefs. They then begin to understand currently accepted scientific theory.

Whilst there is a modern, child-centered, approach to experiments, we expect formal, traditional write ups. These enable the children to develop many analytical skills and provide a rigorous test of the knowledge they have gained from their practical work.

We have two very well resourced labs to fully accommodate the needs of the younger and older children. A range of specialist teachers ensure the children have the highest quality lessons no matter which branch of science they are studying. In addition to lesson time, our specialist teachers run both formal and informal science clubs. Pupils regularly ‘drop in’ to the science labs to try out an idea or propose experiments for subsequent lessons, following their independent research.

The aim of science at Dunhurst is simply to inspire the children with a love of the subject. In return they inspire us and constantly remind us of the joys of science and the joys of learning.

Our Aim

  • To instil a love and understanding of science 
  • To express and develop their scientific ideas
  • To develop children who question information that is presented to them
  • To encourage critical thinkers who search for knowledge
  • To understand the role of  experiments and how they can further the knowledge of the scientific community
  • To understand the role of famous scientists in shaping scientific ideas
  • To understand that science sits within a broad world and to appreciate the views of all people
  • To be inspired by the children as they teach us whilst they learn


There are many standard experiments and standard ways of delivering science. At Dunhurst the science department aims to break down these standard approaches and always seeks to develop new ways for the children to learn. The best experiments come from ideas generated by the children. They are more child-centered, more memorable and often work just as well! Aside from experiments in the purpose built labs children explore the science all around them in the wonderful grounds, they take part in heated debates whether or not to re-open Cornish Tin Mines and present their often excellent independent studies on, for example, the future of alternative energies.

Independent learning is encouraged and indeed for some topics they are given the briefest of outlines as to what they should achieve and then gently guided through as their interest and abilities develop. This has led to the construction of some excellent motors and loudspeakers of which we were all justifiably proud.

Pupils are treated as individuals though of course many will complete similar pieces of work or experiments. The science department strives to push each individual as far as they are able to take a topic academically. With thought provoking questions pupils are encouraged to challenge their existing ideas and develop new ones where appropriate. No matter their ability we expect each child to have eureka moments of clarity. 

Groups 1-3 

Curriculum topic titles have been selected to match those of the National Curriculum (NC). This enables our testing regime to be validated with nationally standardised tests and helps in the resourcing of topics. Objectives also follow the NC as this enables easier transfer into Dunhurst from other schools. Senior schools’ science departments invariably follow a curriculum very close to that of the NC however,our lesson plans and activities reflect the very unique nature that is Dunhurst; practical activities should happen at least every other lesson and will be beyond ‘the standard’ experiments of the NC. Teachers do not worry about deviations from schemes, if classes or individuals suggest ideas or activities they should be encouraged to pursue them.

Groups 1 -3 have two double lessons per week. Each double lesson lasts approx 75 minutes depending on the structure of the school day. We have purchased the ‘Exploring Science’ scheme as a starting point for activities that are then developed as described above. 

We liaise carefully across the three schools and between departments to ensure a coherent experience for the Groups, especially concerned with key experiments and possible trips out of school.

Blocks 1 & 2

Block 1 has two double and one single lessons per week; Block 2 has three double lessons per week. Each single lesson lasts approx 40 minutes depending on the structure of the school day. 

To help provide a coherent experience for Blocks 1 & 2, the topics have been selected to continue the unique learning experience between Dunhurst and Bedales and coverage of key skills is planned between the schools. 


Science clubs are run through the year and have an outline plan at the beginning of the sessions but organically develop to allow pupils the chance to examine their own interests. Many pupils will also ‘just pop in’ to talk about science they have happened upon or want to check their understanding. 

Science trips are arranged at least annually for each year group. 

Progression to Block 3 at Bedales

Blocks 1 - 3 is a key period for the development of children’s understanding of science. During this time they move from an approach that is full of questions and curiosity to being able to assimilate a wide range of facts, appreciate  the connections between them and search for scientific truths.  They will begin to realise applications and limitations of science. By the end of the first year of Bedales (Block 3), our scientists will already be beginning their IGCSE science and will have a love of the subject and the confidence to use the scientific method to solve or test problems. These skills are gained through the rigorous studies of Dunhurst and Bedales science, where we foster curiosity and a love of the subject alongside the development of confidence to use scientific methods to solve and test problems. 

There are at least termly meetings between Heads of science at Bedales and Dunhurst. These meetings focus on the curriculum content, skills, assessment of pupils and ensuring each part of the school has a unique yet coherent approach.

Head of Department: Erawin ‘Olly’ Olie 

While learning about Science, pupils collaborate with their peers and older students - watch a short film about Science at Bedales School.