Biology is taught by a team of specialist teachers and technicians in high quality, spacious and well-equipped Biology laboratories.
All girls study aspects of Biology in Years 7 and 8. The 2 year KS3 course is designed to enthuse and stimulate and includes a large amount of practical work which is fundamental to ensuring the development of highly competent and confident biologists. Planning and designing investigations and the challenge of explaining observations encourages students to think independently and challenge their understanding.
In Years 9, 10 and 11, pupils follow either the OCR Gateway Separate Sciences programme of study or the Combined Science version of the same specification. Both courses allow for access to A Level Biology, and provide an excellent foundation upon which to build. Lessons are designed to foster original thinking and encourage questioning, essential skills for success in this subject, and to gain an increased understanding of the life sciences.
At A Level this subject provides a range of skills desired by many employers including application, independent thinking, processing, mathematical manipulation, recording and analysing to name a few. A significant part of the course addresses practical methodology and techniques, with pupils able to work individually.
Further skills and passion for this subject can be developed and supported in a vast array of extra-curricular activities within the Science Department as well as participating in events such as Biology Week, Physiological Society competitions and events by the Royal Society of Biology.
“Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved”
Biology at KS3
Biology lessons begin by introducing pupils to a biological laboratory – how to work safely, and how to use pieces of equipment which are essential for the experiments they carry out through the course. The course is designed to relate the Life Sciences to everyday experiences and to generate enthusiasm for, and interest in, the subject. As much of the subject as possible is taught through practical work. Pupils enjoy investigating rates of photosynthesis and enzyme catalysed reactions as well as using light microscopes to visualise cells and tissues of a variety of organs.
Year 8 Biology lessons continue to use practical work wherever possible. Students are introduced to organ systems and measure blood pressue and lung capacity as well as having the chance to dissect organs to study their structure in detail.
Biology at GCSE
The study of GCSE Biology starts in Year 9, following the OCR Gateway Biology Specification J247. The majority of practical activity skills (Topic B7) is introduced in Year 9 and completed or reinforced in Years 10 and 11. Students sit two papers made up of both multiple choice and structured questions at the end of the GCSE course. Each constitutes 50% of the overall GCSE grade. Paper 1 assesses content from Topics B1-B3 and B7. Paper 2 assesses content from topics B4-B6 and B7, with assumed knowledge of the previous topics.
The six teaching topics are:
B1: Cell level systems
B2: Scaling up
B3: Organism level systems
B4: Community level systems
B5: Genes, inheritance and selection
B6: Global challenges
Biology at A level
A Level Biology develops at greater depth the topics which have been introduced at GCSE. Students find this course challenging and stimulating, and benefit from the intellectual demands made on them in developing their powers of thought. Practical work is undertaken regularly throughout the course, with students often working individually. This includes exercise physiology, DNA isolation and gene manipulation and enzyme function.
This course provides excellent preparation for future studies in many fields. The life sciences are essential for studying Medicine, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy, and Dentistry. The importance of Biology cannot be overestimated in today’s world, where challenging economic and environmental conditions are driving the need for well qualified scientists.
Year 12 Biology consists of the following theory topics and six standard practical exercises, with practical skills being assessed in the written examinations:
Foundations in Biology
- Cell structure
- Biological molecules
- Nucleotides and nucleic acids
- Biological membranes
- Cell division, cell diversity and cell organisation
Exchange & Transport
- Exchange surfaces
- Transport in animals
- Transport in plants
Biodiversity, evolution & disease
- Communicable diseases, disease prevention, the immune system
- Classification & evolution The Year 2 course consists of all the Year 1 content plus further theory topics and six further practical exercises, which will be assessed in the written examinations:
- Communication, homeostasis & energy
Students will be assessed in-house by two 1 hour and 30 minute written papers containing long answer, short answer and multiple-choice questions.
Communication & homeostasis
- Excretion as an example of homeostatic control
- Neuronal communication
- Hormonal communication
- Plant and animal responses
Genetics, evolution & ecosystems
- Cellular control
- Patterns of inheritance
- Manipulating genomes
- Cloning & biotechnology
- Populations & sustainability
Students will be assessed for the A level Biology qualification at the end of the second year by three papers.
Papers 1 and 2 will each be 2 hours 15 minutes long, and Paper 3 will 1 hour 30 minutes long.