Biology

The structure of DNA was first announced in 1953, and since then work on molecular Biology has continued at an ever increasing rate. Scientists are discovering how the molecule may reproduce, how proteins are made by cells, how organisms may be genetically modified and how the entire human genome can be defined.

It is now obvious that regulation of gene activity is the next big area for investigation. The pace of activity is amazing. The amount of information now available is so large a new branch of Biology called Bioinformatics has been created to deal with it. Commercially, biotechnology firms rely on this knowledge, and this expanding industry is a reflection of the importance of the discoveries already made. Given the rate of progress, it is impossible to predict where other developments may lead in the next decade. Students could hardly be studying Biology at a more exciting time.

Lower School

We introduce the pupils to Biology in their first years at Senior School on a range of scales, from the microscopic to the ecological. The topics studied include microbiology, the genetics of inheritance, and reproduction in human and other animals. Human and plant physiology conclude the Lower School teaching programme. The end of Year 7 culminates in a trip to Colchester Zoo to support and extend their class work on classification and the diversity of life on Earth. In Year 7 Biology is taught as part of the Principles of Science course, which integrates Biology, Chemistry and Physics, and in Year 8 it is taught as a single subject.

Middle School and GCSE

Pupils tackle a wide range of topics in preparation for the AQA Biology GCSE exam at the end of Year 11, exploring in greater depth the concepts familiar to them as well as encountering new ideas. Their understanding of classical genetics, for example, is extended to encompass modern advances in cloning and genetic disease. We provide pointers to online resources including BBC Bitesize for GCSE in addition to the CGP revision guides we give to all pupils. In the Lent Term we enter the Biology Challenge – a national competition open to pupils in Year 9 and 10.

“Thank you ever so much for all your help and inspiration in the past year. I will never forget all your anecdotes and the time you did an impression of a maggot in our first lesson. You always made our lessons interesting and you always had an answer for everything especially those weird but wonderful facts.” Year 13 student

Sixth Form and A level

A Level Biology looks at the whole range of topics that this subject covers. Many of them will be familiar from GCSE, but they are considered in greater depth. Year 12 work includes Biological Molecules, Cell Structure, Gas Exchange, Digestion, Transport, Genetics and Diversity. In Year 13, Photosynthesis, Respiration and Ecology are followed by Nervous Systems, Homeostasis, and more Genetics. The course ends with Controlling Gene Expression and DNA Technology.

Practical work is no longer assessed separately, but is integrated into the final exams, with an additional practical endorsement given for all who successfully complete school-based work. With a wellbalanced and extensive practical course as an integral part of the teaching here, this should be a realistic goal for all our students. Students undertake a range of practical work encompassing, for example, biochemistry, modern genetic techniques, invertebrate breeding and behaviour.

At the end of Year 12, students will have the opportunity to undertake their own ecological investigation as part of the practical endorsement. This involves a field trip to the North Norfolk coast.

Year 13 students have the opportunity to take part in the challenging Biology Olympiad competition and we have had a fine crop of medallists over recent years. Studied with other sciences, this popular course will provide an excellent foundation for work in in the wide range of Biological Science and Medicine courses offered at University, or, studied with a wider range of subjects, will provide scientific training which is a useful qualification in its own right.

The Exam Board we use is AQA. There is no course work element for this specification. A Level: at the end of two years of study there
will be three 2 hour exams. At least 15% of the marks are for what you learned in your practicals.

Optional AS Level: After one year of study there will be two 1 ½ hour exams. It should be noted that the results of these exams does
not contribute to the complete A Level. 

To give an idea of the exam results which pupils at Ipswich School achieve at A Level, we have provided an average of the results in Biology over the most recent three year period (2015, 2016 and 2017). Biology - % A*- B = 75%

“Thank you very much for being a great Biology teacher and inspiring me to take the subject further.” From a student who went on to read Natural Sciences at Cambridge University