Biology

Biology affects all of us. It plays a crucial role in our everyday existence. Advances in new technologies such as cloning and recombinant DNA have made this discipline more exciting than ever. Rapid advances in medicine, biotechnology and genetic engineering have raised ethical and social issues that we want our students to approach from a scientifically informed viewpoint.

Our primary responsibility is to our students and their learning.  As such we will provide an educational experience and curriculum in which we:

  • create a stimulating environment that facilitates intellectual growth of students
  • provide students with the time and freedom to develop their understanding and make links between what they learn in the lesson and the world around them.
  • encourage students to be advocates for science and the scientific approach to
  • instil critical and analytical skills related to biology throughout the GCSE and A-level courses.

Students learn using a range of techniques and are encouraged to approach tasks and questions logically, to apply their learning effectively and to articulate their ideas using key scientific terms. Research indicates that students learn best by doing and then having adequate time to reflect on what they have done in order to reconcile their findings with their previous understanding of the world. Therefore our teachers organize their classrooms around frequent, hands-on practical work which sets the stage for increasingly sophisticated classroom discourse that challenges students intellectually and develops their ability to communicate ideas.

Knowledge learned in Biology underpins many choices throughout life. As such, teachers use the latest teaching methodologies which support development and building of a comprehensive knowledge of Biology. We have regular opportunities for assessment. This ensures students know how they are progressing and are able to take responsibility for their learning. Tracking progress also allows staff to ensure the best possible outcomes at GCSE and A-level. The Biology Department has excellent laboratory facilities and is equipped to a high standard to support students’ learning.


Biology at Key Stage 3

 Term 1Term 2Term 3
Year 7Working Scientifically
This introduction topic provides students with the knowledge needed to plan, carry, analyse and evaluate practical work in Science.

Cells
Cells are the key building blocks of life. In this topic, students study the key features of a plant and animal cell and how specialised cells are adapted for their functions. They finish by looking at unicellular organisms.
Structure and Function of Body Systems
Students take a look at the human body and how important processes are carried out. They look at the lungs and breathing, the skeleton and muscles and joints
Zoo
As part of the Year 7 programme of study, students have the opportunity to visit the zoo. Before the trip, students study classification of animals and how their adaptations allow them to survive in their environments.

Reproduction
Students begin by looking at adolescence and the changes during puberty. They then look at internal and external fertilisation in animals and the human reproductive system. Students then study pollination in plants and how dispersal of seeds.
Year 8Health and Lifestyle
Students look at the nutrients in food and why each is needed in a balanced diet. The digestive system is then introduced to the students to discover how our body processes food. They then study the effects of smoking, alcohol medicinal and recreational drugs on the body.
Ecosystem Processes
In this topic, students study important biological processes such as respiration and photosynthesis. They then look at food chains and food webs and how everything links in an ecosystem as well as things that can affect the balance of an ecosystem.
Adaptation and Inheritance
The Adaptation and Inheritance topics begins with students looking and variation and species. This then links to the introduction of inheritance through DNA and the theory of Natural Selection

Practicals in Biology

Biology, like all sciences, is a practical subject and throughout the GCSE and A-level course students will carry out practical activities including:

  • using microscopes to see cell division
  • dissection of animal or plant systems
  • aseptic technique to study microbial growth
  • investigating activity within cells
  • investigating animal behaviours
  • investigating distributions of species in the environment.

GCSE Curriculum: Years 9-11

We teach GCSE biology in topics, ensuring key ideas are revisited and with each encounter there is increasing complexity and new context to reinforcing previous learning. The course consists of eight key areas:

  1. Cell biology
  2. Organisation
  3. Infection and response
  4. Bioenergetics
  5. Homeostasis and response
  6. Inheritance, variation and evolution
  7. Ecology
  8. Key ideas

A-level Curriculum

A-level Biology lasts two years, with exams at the end of the second year. Topics include:

First year of A-level

  1. Biological molecules
  2. Cells
  3. Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  4. Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms

Second year of A-level

  1. Energy transfers in and between organisms
  2. Organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
  3. Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
  4. The control of gene expression

Possible career options

Studying A-level Biology at university gives all sorts of exciting career options, including:

  • Doctor
  • Clinical molecular geneticist
  • Nature conservation officer
  • Pharmacologist
  • Research scientist
  • Vet
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Marine biologist
  • Dentist

The enriched curriculum

We underpin our Biology lessons with a wide range of extracurricular activities.

  • Competitions such as the KS4 Biology Challenge and KS5 Biology Olympiad enable pupils to explore topics beyond the limitations of the curriculum. Our students who score highly in these competitions are encouraged to attend the awards ceremony in London.
  • We have a student-run MedSoc group. This group discuss medical and ethical issues and support each other with their applications to university.
  • Our Environmental and Wildlife Club encourages a love of nature alongside a consideration of the environment in which we live.
  • We have a mentoring system where students are able to support younger pupils with Biology work, developing their understanding and removing misconceptions.
  • We look for role models to help our students discover career pathways they may not have considered, for example “Science Live” where students are able to listen to cutting edge scientists talk about recent discoveries and their work.
  • Students are encouraged to take part in the after-school Journal Club, where they are able to give presentations and discuss any science topics they are interested in, from dental stem cells to sleep deprivation.
  • We expand students’ horizons, introducing them to the complexity of ecology during a residential field-trip to Wales in Year 12.
  • We nurture and support relationships with past students, acknowledging their accomplishments. We encourage former students to return and work with our MedSoc group and present at our Journal Club, alongside our own students.