Pupils study biology as a separate subject from Year 7 to IGCSE level.
All lessons are taught by biology specialists with a wide variety of research backgrounds and interests. Our laboratories are equipped to the highest standards and practical work is central to our teaching of the subject. Each student is trained from Year 7 in the use of microscopes and how to handle a variety of biological equipment, including organic material during dissections.
We aim to:
- Stimulate the natural curiosity of students and develop their enjoyment and interest in all areas of biology
- Enable students to develop the essential knowledge and understanding of concepts along with the skills required to apply their knowledge during examinations
- Enable students to develop a thorough understanding of scientific method and to work independently and safely within the laboratory
- Encourage students to think independently and to question often
- Develop and maintain positive teacher student relationships built on mutual respect and an understanding of individual needs
- Learning journey - Years 7 and 8
From a young age children develop a fascination with all things biological. Their interest may be with the human body or the natural world (honed by David Attenborough!) and we aim to capitalise on this enthusiasm and nurture this love of biology.
In Years 7 and 8 we give students a wide exposure to different aspects of biology to help them appreciate the wonderful world of living organisms. These courses include as much practical work as possible and students will find themselves examining the histology of cells and making their own cell models, extracting DNA from peas and becoming crime scene investigators when studying genetics.
In Year 7 they cover cells and microscope work, experimental design, variation and evolution, classification, ecology and reproduction in plants. In Year 8 the topics are methods of nutrition, support and movement, human reproduction, genetics, microbiology and building on the foundations from Year 7 of experimental design.
- Learning journey - IGCSE
From Year 9 students follow the CIE IGCSE Biology course (0970). This academically rigorous course enables students to better understand the natural and scientific world in which they live, and to take an informed interest in biotechnological developments.
Students learn the fundamental principles of biology through a mix of theoretical and practical studies. This course provides an excellent level of biological detail and a superb biological background for A level studies.
In Year 9 students explore classification and the organisation of living organisms, movement in and out of cells, biological molecules and enzymes, plant and human nutrition and organisms in their environment.
In Year 10 students study transport in plants and animals, diseases and immunity, gaseous exchange in humans and respiration, excretion in humans, co-ordination and response, drugs and human influences on ecosystems.
In Year 11 they move on to reproduction, inheritance, variation and selection, and biotechnology and genetic engineering.
We celebrate Science Week. A theme is chosen each year which links the three sciences for example “light”. During this week Year 9 students performed photosynthesis experiments examining the effects of different wavelengths of light on the rate of photosynthesis and Year 10 students completed an eye dissection.
- Providing stretch
Students wishing to take their learning further can carry out one of the optional investigations set each term, from exploring how isotonic drinks work to considering enzyme use in industry.
Students are welcome to access our specimen collection, for interest or to produce biological drawings.
We enthusiastically celebrate Biology Week. From watching chicks emerge on our ‘Hatch cam’ to ‘Dissection lunchtime’, there is something for everyone. Zoolab regularly visits the school, providing a chance to examine live animals and understand the finer points of classification.
All biology students from Years 9 and 10 enter the annual national Biology Challenge competition. This competition tests students’ general biology knowledge and their wider understanding of biological issues, and each year more than 30,000 students enter.
In the 2016-17 academic year, all Year 9 and 10 students took part in the Biology Challenge, winning 71 Gold awards, 73 silver awards, 80 bronze awards, 44 highly commended awards and 38 commended awards.
- Beyond the classroom
Biologists frequently come to give lectures as part of our lunchtime 42 society.
Recent speakers include Dr Jem Rashbass, National Director for Disease Registration at Public Health England, whose lecture ‘Blood, pus and stones: a few things you find at a post-mortem’ was not for the squeamish; and consultant neurosurgeon Rodney Laing, who explored the hype and reality that surrounds attempts to fix the brain and spine.
We celebrate Science Week. During the most recent event the theme was ‘light’; Year 9 students performed photosynthesis experiments examining the effects of different wavelengths of light on the rate of photosynthesis and Year 10 students completed an eye dissection.
Ecology Club meets weekly for anyone interested in learning more about the natural world. In 2016 the group took part in the RHS’s ‘Rocket Science’ experiment, in which they cultivated rocket plans from seeds that had been sent to space, to investigate the effect of microgravity.
A weekly after-school club for Years 7 to 9, Science Club provides an opportunity to carry out fun practicals such as identifying what gives fireworks their colour, extracting DNA from fruit, making bath bombs and conducting experiments with light.