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Progression in Science: Physics

Science National Curriculum


Progression in Physics


Subject Key Objective Progression & Development by Year Group


The following is a guide to help you understand your child's progression through school.

All lessons are effectively differentiated to ensure that all children can achieve the objective set.


Physics Knowledge - EYFS


In Nursery, children will:


  • I can explore how things work;
  • I can explore and talk about different forces I can feel.

In Reception, children will: 


  • I understand the effect of changing seasons on the natural world around them.



Physics Knowledge - Year 1


In Year 1, children will:


  • name the seasons;
  • know about the type of weather in each season;
  • describe how day length varies.



Physics Knowledge - Year 3


In Year 3, children will:


  • know about and can describe how objects move on different surfaces;
  • know how some forces require contact and others work at a distance (such as magnets);
  • observe how magnets attract and repel (and other materials);
  • predict whether magnets will attract or repel based on direction of poles;
  • compare & group together everyday materials based on whether they are attracted to magnet & identify some magnetic materials;
  • describe magnets as having two different poles;
  • recognise that we need light in order to see things and that dark is the absence of light;
  • notice that light is reflected from surfaces;
  • recognise that light from the sun can be dangerous and that there are ways to protect my eyes;
  • recognise that shadows are formed when the light from a light source is blocked by an opaque object;
  • find patterns in the way that the size of shadows change.


Physics Knowledge - Year 4


In Year 4, children will:


  • identify and name appliances that require electricity to function;
  • construct a simple series circuit;
  • identify and name the components in a series circuit (including cells, wires, bulbs, switches and buzzers);
  • predict and test whether a lamp will light within a circuit (is it complete?);
  • know the function of a switch and therefore whether a lamp lights in a simple circuit;
  • know the difference between a conductor and an insulator; recognise metals as good conductors;
  • know how sound is made, associating some of them with vibrating;
  • know how sound travels from a source to our ears;
  • find the patterns between pitch and the feature of the object producing a sound;
  • find the patterns between the volume of a sound and the strength of the vibrations that produced it;
  • know the link between how loud a sound is and the distance from the object making that sound.


Physics Knowledge - Year 5


In Year 5, children will:


  • know what gravity is and the fact that it acts between things on Earth and the falling object; 
  • identify the effect of air and water resistance between moving surfaces;
  • identify the effect of friction between moving surfaces;
  • recognise that some mechanisms, including levers, pulleys and gears allow a smaller force to have a greater effect;
  • know about and can explain the movement of the Earth and other planets relative to the Sun;
  • know about and can explain the movement of the Moon relative to the Earth;
  • know and can demonstrate how night and day are created using terms such as rotation;
  • explain why the sun looks like it moves across the sky;
  • describe the Sun, Earth and Moon (using the term spherical).







Physics Knowledge - Year 6


In Year 6, children will:


  • compare and give reasons for variations in how components function, including the brightness of bulbs, the loudness of buzzers and on/off position of switches;
  • draw circuit diagrams using correct symbols;
  • know how the number and voltage of cells in a circuit links to the brightness of a lamp or the volume of a buzzer;
  • recognise that light appears to travel in straight lines;
  • explain that we see things because light travels from light sources to our eyes or from light sources to objects and then to our eyes;
  • use the idea of light travelling in straight lines to explain why shadows have the same shape as the objects that cast them;
  • use the idea that light travels in straight lines to explain that objects are seen because they give out or reflect light into the eye.