Year 6 Science
Pupils in Year 6 should use their science experiences to: explore ideas and raise
different kinds of questions; select and plan the most appropriate type of scientific
enquiry to use to answer scientific questions; recognise when and how to set up
comparative and fair tests and explain which variables need to be controlled and why.
They should use and develop keys and other information records to identify, classify and
describe living things and materials, and identify patterns that might be found in the
They should make their own decisions about what observations to make, what measurements to use and how long to make them for, and whether to repeat them; choose the most appropriate equipment to make measurements and explain how to use it accurately.
They should decide how to record data from a choice of familiar approaches; look for different causal relationships in their data and identify evidence that refutes or supports their ideas.
They should use their results to identify when further tests and observations might be needed; recognise which secondary sources will be most useful to research their ideas and begin to separate opinion from fact.
They should use relevant scientific language and illustrations to discuss, communicate and justify their scientific ideas and should talk about how scientific ideas have developed over time.
These opportunities for working scientifically should be provided across years 5 and 6 so
that the expectations in the programme of study can be met by the end of year 6.
Pupils are not expected to cover each aspect for every area of study.
Living things and their habitats
Pupils should build on their learning about grouping living things in year 4 by looking at
the classification system in more detail.
They should be introduced to the idea that broad groupings, such as micro-organisms, plants and animals can be subdivided. Through direct observations where possible, they should classify animals into commonly found invertebrates (such as insects, spiders, snails, worms) and vertebrates (fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals).
They should discuss reasons why living things are placed in one group and not another.
Pupils might find out about the significance of the work of scientists such as Carl
Linnaeus, a pioneer of classification.
Pupils might work scientifically by: using classification systems and keys to identify some
animals and plants in the immediate environment.
They could research unfamiliar animals and plants from a broad range of other habitats and decide where they belong in the classification system.
Animals including humans
Pupils should build on their learning from years 3 and 4 about the main body parts and
internal organs (skeletal, muscular and digestive system) to explore and answer
questions that help them to understand how the circulatory system enables the body to
Pupils should learn how to keep their bodies healthy and how their bodies might be
damaged – including how some drugs and other substances can be harmful to the
Pupils might work scientifically by: exploring the work of scientists and scientific research about the relationship between diet, exercise, drugs, lifestyle and health.
Evolution and inheritance
Building on what they learned about fossils in the topic on rocks in year 3, pupils should
find out more about how living things on earth have changed over time.
They should be introduced to the idea that characteristics are passed from parents to their offspring, for instance by considering different breeds of dogs, and what happens when, for example, labradors are crossed with poodles.
They should also appreciate that variation in offspring over time can make animals more or less able to survive in particular environments, for example, by exploring how giraffes’ necks got longer, or the development of insulating fur on the arctic fox.
Pupils might find out about the work of palaeontologists such as Mary Anning and about how Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace developed their ideas on evolution.
Note: At this stage, pupils are not expected to understand how genes and
Pupils might work scientifically by: observing and raising questions about local animals
and how they are adapted to their environment; comparing how some living things are
adapted to survive in extreme conditions, for example, cactuses, penguins and camels.
They might analyse the advantages and disadvantages of specific adaptations, such as
being on two feet rather than four, having a long or a short beak, having gills or lungs,
tendrils on climbing plants, brightly coloured and scented flowers.
Pupils should build on the work on light in year 3, exploring the way that light behaves,
including light sources, reflection and shadows.
They should talk about what happens and make predictions.
Pupils might work scientifically by: deciding where to place rear-view mirrors on cars;
designing and making a periscope and using the idea that light appears to travel in
straight lines to explain how it works.
They might investigate the relationship between light sources, objects and shadows by using shadow puppets.
They could extend their experience of light by looking a range of phenomena including rainbows, colours on soap bubbles, objects looking bent in water and coloured filters (they do not need to explain why these phenomena occur).)
Building on their work in year 4, pupils should construct simple series circuits, to help
them to answer questions about what happens when they try different components, for
example, switches, bulbs, buzzers and motors.
They should learn how to represent a simple circuit in a diagram using recognised symbols.
Note: Pupils are expected to learn only about series circuits, not parallel circuits.
Pupils should be taught to take the necessary precautions for working safely with electricity.
Pupils might work scientifically by: systematically identifying the effect of changing one
component at a time in a circuit; designing and making a set of traffic lights, a burglar alarm or some other useful circuit.