Education Scotland’s support for learning, teaching and assessment in the sciences

Education Scotland has produced a suite of documents to support learning, teaching and assessment of the sciences from early to third level.

Following on from the Sciences Experiences and Outcomes  we have the  Sciences Principles and Practice Paper, essential reading which:

  • details the purposes of learning within the sciences
  • describes how the experiences are organised
  • offers guidance on aspects such as learning and teaching, broad features of assessment, progression and connections with other areas of the curriculum.


Supporting the Principles and Practice paper is the Concept Development in the Sciences paper.

This document is unique to the sciences curriculum and provides:

  • material for teachers to use alongside the experiences and outcomes to plan for the development of learners’ scientific knowledge, understanding and skills
  • describes progression in the development of knowledge and understanding of some of the scientific concepts.


In addition the Assessing Progress and Achievement in the Sciences paper supplements advice stated in the Principles and Practice paper to support practitioners in capturing what children and young people have achieved.

Assessment in the sciences focusses on learners’ knowledge, understanding, skills, attributes and capabilities in the significant aspects of learning.

We want learners to have K/U of the big ideas and concepts in science and also develop skills in investigation and enquiry, analytical thinking and become scientifically literate – the significant aspects of learning bring these together. They are the core learning against which learners’ progress can be compared periodically and are common to all levels from early to third.

Assessing Progress and Achievement in the Sciences:

  • supports professional learning and provides opportunity for reflection on assessing progress and achievement by giving further information on the significant aspects of learning and an outline of what breadth, challenge and application look like
  • designed to support quality assurance and moderation activities in planning for progression and approaches to managing assessment.

In addition to this there is the new Sciences Progression Framework, a guide intended to support practitioners in considering the evidence of knowledge and understanding, skills, attributes and capabilities provided by learners as they progress through and then achieve a level in the sciences.

The significant aspects of learning relate to the statements for each level within this progression framework. They should be considered jointly when assessing progress and achievement.

We also have annotated exemplification of work in the sciences which show work deemed to typify the achievement of a level in the sciences. The effectiveness of the support documentation is evident when used alongside the annotated exemplars.  

This resource:

  • outlines significant aspects of learning and describes what breadth, challenge and application looks like
  • should be used when planning learning and assessment
  • contributes to the moderation and profiling processes to help create a reliable picture of learners’ progress and achievement.
  • provides a focus for professional dialogue involving staff within or across establishments
  • provides a focus for dialogue involving parents
  • helps inform and review the quality of learners’ work which is deemed to typify the achievement of a level
  • identifies the range of work which typifies the achievement of a level across the learning in a curriculum area
  • encourages practitioners to appreciate how the quality of work being produced by their learners compares with that in the exemplars
  • supports practitioners in identifying aspects of the approaches used which might inform their own practice in their contexts
  • contributes to identifying gaps in the learning of their learners

Additional information regarding the sciences curriculum can be accessed through the Education Scotland sciences website and STEM Central.

Additional assessment resources can be accessed through Education Scotland  Learning Teaching and Assessment