Since the discovery of the structure of DNA the biological sciences have made rapid progress. The human genome has been sequenced and sequencing of other organisms occurs every day, enabling insight into evolutionary links between species. Epigenetics looks at the switching on and off of genes and has led to proposals for early identification in an individual’s of disposition towards diseases such as cancer. New techniques in electron microscopy have led to some amazing discoveries and greater understanding of fundamental areas of Biology; the concept of animal cells being individual entities has been challenged with the discovery of tunnelling nanotubes which allow links to be made from one cell to another for the movement of proteins, ions and electrical impulses.
Pupils in their first years in Senior school develop ideas from KS2 working on investigation skills as well as Biological theory. In Year 7 Biology is taught as part of our integrated ‘Principles of Science’ course which culminates with a trip to Colchester Zoo where students extend their class work in all areas of science. In Year 8 students are taught Biology as a single subject where they continue work in preparation for the start of the GCSE in Year 9.
Middle School and GCSE
Pupils start their Biology GCSE in Year 9. This linear AQA course covers a wide range of topics; building on topics previously covered as well as introducing new ones. Pupils are given a practical work book that covers all the required practical activities needed for the exam in Year 11. This is used throughout the GCSE course and provides a revision source for these activities. We also provide students with a CGP revision guide as we approach the final exams. During the Lent term pupils have the opportunity to 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
Biology at A Level takes a big step up from GCSE and students are able to look in much greater detail at many of the topics covered in previous years. The linear AQA course culminates in 3 exam papers at the end of the 2 years of study. For students taking on Biology for one year, there is the opportunity to take the AS at the end of the first year. Year 12 work includes, biological molecules, cell structure, exchange and transport systems and culminates in a field trip to Holkham in Norfolk with the start of the ecology work for the second year. In Year 13 students look into the complexities of photosynthesis and respiration, as well as the nervous system, genetics and gene expression.
An extensive range of practical activities allow students to develop their practical skills and make links with theory studied. They carry out a number of required practicals and the concepts around these are examined in the final exams. Students are required to gain practical competency and gain skills in a range of techniques. These are assessed throughout the course within the normal lab environment. Numerous opportunities to gain competency are given.
Students have the opportunity to take part in the ‘Intermediate Biology Olympiad’ in Year 12 and the ‘Biology Olympiad’ in Year 13 and we have had many medallists over recent years.
This course provides excellent foundations for study in a wide range of Biological Sciences and Medicine courses offered at university and for scientific high level apprenticeships, particularly when taken alongside other sciences.
“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
The average of the results in Biology over the most recent three year period is:
- GCSE – 9: 31%, 9-8: 48%, 9-7: 69%, 9-4: 100%
- A Level – A*: 25%, A*-A: 59%, A*-B: 80%, A*-C: 95%