Science to raise and Track Achievement

STRATA - Science for learners with special educational needs in special school or mainstream settings

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The STRATA project began with a group of teachers from a number of special schools in Cambridgeshire working with children with a range of special needs - Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities (PMLD), Severe Learning Disabilities (SLD), Moderate Learning Disabilities (MLD), and Emotional and Behavourial Disabilities (EBD).

The first phase of the project developed a series of schemes of work covering common primary science topics. These can be downloaded as Word documents to be used and adapted. The second phase of the project worked towards creating an on-line mechanism to generate customised schemes of work through the development of a planning tool. Click on the tabs below for further information.


Working together, the STRATA team first developed a scheme of work and an assessment and recording framework for science that addresses the particular issues faced by the teachers of children with special needs. The original STRATA schemes of work can be found here. These provide a comprehensive range of activities that are both age appropriate and sufficient to meet a variety of needs.


Developed out of the original version, the STRATA team have created a new scheme of learning which:

  • allows teachers to create their own customised schemes of work.
  • gives science background information
  • supports progression* in working scientifically
*This uses the system of P levels and what were National Curriculum levels 1-3, which the team still feel provide a good indication of steps in progression.

Overall the new scheme:

  • reflects the updated curriculum
  • covers KS1-3 with clear links into KS4 and qualifications
  • has outcomes focused on skills
  • can be used to support science in mainstream and special needs classes
  • supports assessment and recording
  • provides scientific background information for teachers
  • provides links to a range of linked websites for resources
  • contains progression in Working Scientifically from P1(i) to 'Level 3'
  • provides scientific key words and definitions
  • details common misconceptions and points to note
  • allows teachers to personalise the scheme
  • contains guidance on how to support specific needs in class

At the heart is an interactive planning tool which enables you to create a medium term plan for a topic selecting particular objectives and range of levels. The planning tool is designed to give you as much flexibility as possible to generate a downloadable customised PDF.

Your download will include:

  • Big questions to engage and motivate pupils
  • Quick activities to review learning
  • Key vocabulary and definitions
  • Background information for teachers
  • Things to think about when teaching the unit
  • Useful websites for the topic

To try out the planning tool, click on the Planning Tool tab.


The STRATA scheme has been updated thanks to the hard work of the following teachers and advisers:

  • Wendy Battye (science subject leader and experienced special needs teacher): Hillside Special School (ages 3-19)
  • Penny Brewer (experienced special needs teacher): Granta School (ages 2-19)
  • Elly Gay (science subject leader): Beverley St Nicholas (Primary)
  • Amy Hill (science teacher): Headlands School Science College
  • Mandy Hodgkinson (School Improvement Officer Science): East Riding of Yorkshire
  • Bernadette Illsley: Marlborough School, London Borough of Bexley
  • Moira Lloyd (Independent SEN adviser)
  • Julia Miller (Independent Education Consultant)
  • Helen Norris (science subject leader and experienced special needs teacher): Granta School (ages 2-19)
  • Ngozi Okwesa: Swiss Cottage Specialist SEN School, London Borough of Camden,
  • Shân Oswald (Independent Education Consultant)
  • Debbie Pardey: Riverside School, St Paul’s Cray, London Borough of Bromley
  • Marlene Persaud (Independent Education Consultant)
  • Mairead Ulamoleka: Oak Lodge School, London Borough of Barnet
  • Jackie Wilson (AST): Hessle High School

The development of the STRATA Planning Tool and the Assessment Tool were undertaken by Julian Clarke. The Trust is extremely grateful for all the work done by Julian and by Shân Oswald who led the STRATA project.


The planning tool can be accessed here. It will open in a new tab or window.

It is fairly straightforward to generate your own medium term plan which draws on the STRATA schemes of work:

  • Click on the boxes to select the relevant range or ranges of levels from P1-3 to L1-3.
  • Select the topic you are interested in. (Please note that you can only select one topic at a time.) You will see that objectives for the topic change as you select different topics.
  • Select from the objectives available by ticking the boxes.
  • Teacher guidance notes, topic outlines and optional activities are available but just uncheck the boxes if you do not wish to have these.
  • Once you have selected at least one objective, the 'Generate medium term plan' button at the bottom of the page will change to blue. Click the button and your medium term plan will be generated as a PDF document. This will either save or open this document according to your browser settings. You can then generate more plans as you need them.

If you select all the level ranges and all the objectives for a particular topic, the PDF generated may be quite large - perhaps 60 pages if you choose to have the guidance notes and optional activities. It is advisable to try to focus down on specific objectives and a narrower range of levels to generate more manageable plans.


To accompany the Planning Tool, an Assessment Tool is available which can be used to create profiles for individual learners and/or class groups. It is the form of an Excel spreadsheet which can be used to record pupils' progress against the objectives in the STRATA topics. Guidance is given on the spreadsheet itself about how to use it to create individual and class records.


In order to support the use of the STRATA materials, you might find the following resources of use:

  • A guide to 'Supporting SEND Pupils in Science' - this guidance covers a range of issues about working with pupils with special educational needs or disabilities. Although much of what is in this guide will be familiar to teachers working in Special Schools, it will be useful for teachers in mainstream schools working with pupils with these needs.
  • A summary table relating to the guide above giving a quick indication of strategies which might be used to support learners with SEND.
  • A short document showing links between STRATA topics and themes commonly found in primary schools.
  • Some guidance on progression across the P-levels and into what were National Curriculum levels 1-3 for the area of Working Scientifically. This complements the progression in the other content areas covered in STRATA topics.
  • To complement the guidance on progression in Working Scientifically, there are some notes on developing this aspect of learning science, particularly supporting practical work and aspects of carrying out scientific enquiries.
  • A document which cross-references STRATA units to Entry Level Courses offered by different awarding bodies.
  • This link is to the CLEAPSS guide to science for pupils with SEND. This contains a lot of useful information and guidance and we are very grateful to CLEAPSS for allowing us to include it here.
  • This link is to the Science for All website at Sheffield Hallam University. This project which was supported by PSTT generated a range of resources for use by teachers and teaching assistants working with learners with SEND.
  • This document from the Department for Education describes the use of the P-level system for use with pupils working below the standard of the main National Curriculum. It contains guidance about all subjects but the section on science provides some descriptors for P1 to P8 which may be helpful.