Biology

Aims

We aim to:

  • encourage pupils to study living organisms and processes in a scientific manner
  • balance subject knowledge with the development of investigative skills
  • give pupils opportunities to design, carry out and evaluate practical experiments using a very wide variety of laboratory apparatus
  • emphasise the importance of health and safety in the laboratory setting to ensure the wellbeing of all pupils and staff working there

Staff and facilities

Five recently-refurbished dedicated Biology laboratories are available, as well as a Sixth Form teaching room. Each laboratory is extremely well-equipped, containing all basic laboratory apparatus and a variety of specialist equipment.

Each has audio-visual equipment to allow the watching of videos and DVDs. We also have integrated computers and projectors so that we can use PowerPoint or other computer presentations in the laboratories if we so choose.

The Biology department staff consists of six full-time teachers, two part-time teachers and three highly-qualified technicians.


Subject time per 10-day cycle

Lower School – three lessons (three hours) with up to an hour of homework in total
GCSE – five lessons with two hours of homework
A-level – 10 lessons with additional individual study in Lower Sixth, 11 in Upper Sixth


Biology in the Lower School

In the first three years Biology is taught as a separate science. Pupils are introduced to the world of living organisms and cover many of the basic topics that are fundamental to the study of Biology.

First Year

Topics include:

  • cells and microscopy 
  • organs and organ systems
  • human reproduction
  • inheritance and selection 
  • forensic science 

Second Year

Topics include:

  • variety of living organisms and classification
  • nutrient cycles
  • food chains and food webs
  • movement, exercise, diet and healthy lifestyle
  • infectious diseases and defense against disease 
  • drugs

Third Year

Topics include:

  • basic biochemistry
  • enzymes
  • diffusion and osmosis
  • diet and digestion
  • gaseous exchange
  • respiration.

Pupils are encouraged to study living organisms and processes in a scientific manner. Topics are taught balancing subject knowledge with the development of investigative skills, including opportunities to design, carry out and evaluate practical experiments. These are an integral part of our science teaching and include the use of standard laboratory apparatus as well as more subject specific equipment such as microscopes.


Biology further up the school

GCSE

Biology trip

Biology trip

At GCSE we follow the Edexcel IGCSE specification which enables students to:

  • acquire knowledge and understanding of biological facts, concepts and principles
  • develop an appreciation of the significance of biological facts, concepts and principles and the skills needed for their use in new and changing situations
  • appreciate the importance of accurate experimental work to scientific method and reporting
  • form hypotheses and design experiments to test them
  • sustain and develop an enjoyment of, and interest in, the study of living organisms
  • evaluate, in terms of their biological knowledge and understanding, the benefits and
  • drawbacks of scientific and technological developments, including those related to social,
  • environmental and economic issues

The design of the course provides a basis for progression to further study in GCSE and A-level Biology.

A-level

Studying Biology at Advanced level helps lay the foundations for further study and careers in biological sciences. It is also essential for pupils wishing to study medicine, veterinary medicine or dentistry.

Biology A-level goes into much more detail than you will have covered at GCSE. It will give you the skills to make connections and associations with all living things around you. Biology literally means ‘the study of life’ and if that’s not important, what is? Being such a broad topic, you’re bound to find a specific area of interest, plus it opens the door to a fantastic range of interesting careers.

Topics include:

  • biological molecules
  • cells
  • organisms exchange substances with their environment
  • genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
  • energy transfers in and between organisms
  • organisms respond to changes in their internal and external environments
  • genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
  • the control of gene expression

Practical work:

  • using microscopes to see cell division
  • aseptic technique to study microbial growth
  • investigating activity within cells
  • investigating animal behaviours
  •  investigating distributions of species in the environment
  • dissection of animal or plant systems (heart, fish gills, leaves)

There is no coursework on this course. However, your performance during practicals will be assessed. There are three exams at the end of the two years for A-level, all of which are two hours long. At least 15% of the marks for A-level Biology are based on what you have learned in your practicals. 10% of Biology examinations will assess mathematical skills at higher tier GCSE level.

According to bestcourse4me.com, the top degree courses taken by students who have an A-level in Biology are:

  • Biology
  • Psychology
  • Sport and Exercise Science
  • Medicine
  • Physiology 
  • Toxicology, Pharmacy, Chemistry

Please consult the Sixth Form Handbook (pdf) for further information.


Co-curricular activities

Animal club

The Animal club is principally orientated towards Lower School pupils. They are taught how to look after the animals in a safe and correct manner. We endeavour to foster responsible behaviour when handling and caring for animals.

Animal club

Animal club

If parents agree, pupils can put their name down to take one of the animals home during the holidays.

Allotment Club

The department is currently planning an allotment garden that will allow pupils to engage in the process of growing their own food. It is anticipated that the club will start in February 2017 for the new growing season.

Biology challenge

Pupils in the Fourth Year are entered for the Biology challenge. This is an online competition which takes place in school. Its aims are:

  • to encourage an interest in Biology beyond the school curriculum and stimulate curiosity in the natural world
  • to involve as many pupils as possible in a challenging and interesting Biology competition
  • to act as a junior version of the British Biology Olympiad, raising its profile and encouraging participation

Biology Olympiad

The British Biology Olympiad challenges and stimulates gifted students with an interest in Biology to expand and extend their talents. In offering a wider syllabus than A-level, it allows gifted students to demonstrate their knowledge and to be suitably rewarded and publicly recognised by the award of medals, certificates and other prizes.

It is hoped that competing in the Olympiad will encourage students already interested in this valuable, wide-ranging and rewarding subject to continue their study beyond A-level.