A 5-year curriculum map to build understanding

How are your curriculum topics organised? Like the specification? Based on an old scheme? If so, our big ideas approach could help you build stronger student over 5 years.

Here’s how it works. We have identified 14 fundamental ideas that underly all the science content in Key Stage 3 (11-14) and GCSE Combined Science (14-16). These are principles, models, laws and theories that explain lots of phenomena. They’re the things we really want students to understand,

For instance, forces has two distinct big ideas which if you understand them, can help you apply knowledge and answer the most difficult exam questions.


  • Forces predict motion: knowing the forces, and Newton’s laws, you can work out how an object moves
  • Forces act through fields

For all the big ideas, we are creating a progression of understanding, through a number of topics spread out over the 5 years, aiming at GCSE Combined Science.

For example, this big idea has 3 topics. Each builds on the understanding of the one before – revising it – and going into more depth.

Big idea understanding is at the heart of each topic. Here’s the one for Contact forces, year 7 The description focusses on the key concepts that students need to understand, and how they are connected. This understanding is then elaborated into a series of objectives of increasing demand, for students to know, apply, and analyse. You can see how what these topic objectives look like in the sample topic grids.

See the 5-year curriculum