The aims of the Department are to develop the scientific knowledge, understanding and practical skills of all pupils throughout their entire school career.
These aims should be in the context of the pupils becoming future members of a caring society, who will need to make important decisions on a wide variety of issues that require an informed decision from a biological standpoint.
The Biology Department is justifiably proud of its record at all levels of public examination. We aim to get the best out of each pupil so that he or she can proceed from QEGS to the most appropriate university course or career.
Throughout all years, students should be able to:
- Recall, understand, use and apply the knowledge set out in the syllabus together with extra material where this is considered desirable.
- Communicate biological observations, ideas and arguments in good English using a range of scientific and technical vocabulary and appropriate scientific and mathematical conventions.
- Evaluate relevant biological information and make informed judgements from it.
- Use practical equipment with confidence and care to enable them to carry out experimental and investigative work in which they plan procedures, systematically take measurements and make observations, analyse and evaluate evidence and relate this to scientific knowledge and understanding.
In order to achieve this we aim:
- To provide a broad, balanced curriculum which appeals to pupils of both sexes and all cultural backgrounds.
- To provide courses appropriate to the abilities of all groups of pupils, there being material to interest, stimulate and challenge all individuals.
- To provide a scientific, and specifically biological, base upon which pupils might build a career.
- Throughout all years, to support cross-curricular themes of numeracy, literacy, health, and information technology.
- To show, where possible, the relationship between Biology and other areas of the curriculum, together with an awareness of the role of biological principles in society in general.
In the first two years (Years 7 and 8):
We provide practically based courses that form a h3 foundation for IGCSE Biology, where pupils elect to follow such a course. All students follow the Heinemann science scheme covering topics including:
In the Third, Fourth and Fifth Years (Years 9, 10 and 11):
In the Third Year students start the Edexcel IGCSE Biology course. This is a more rigorous syllabus much better suited to our more academic students and allows a better understanding of key biology topics for the many students who continue with biology onto AS/A2 level. Our present Fourth Years are in their second year of this IGCSE Biology or IGCSE Science course. The Fifth Years (Year 11) are the last year group to complete the AQA specification for Biology or Science GCSE.
In the Sixth Form, we aim:
- To develop a scientific approach to the solving of problems within the context of planning and conducting practical investigations.
- To encourage an understanding of the wider applications of Biology, and its importance as a subject of social, moral, economic and industrial relevance.
- To provide scientific training either as an end in itself, or as a foundation of more advanced study.
The Biology department is now housed in four new, purpose-built laboratories within the Holden buildings, with associated preparation rooms. Each laboratory is equipped with modern audiovisual presentation equipment and traditional laboratory appointments.
Why choose Biology at IGCSE level?
The IGCSE Course in Biology principally develops the scientific approach. Its aims are to create an interest in living organisms, particularly humans, a respect for life and a social awareness.
The course is extremely up-to-date with knowledge included being, for example, of recent medical drugs, cloning of animals and genetic engineering. Biology is increasing its knowledge base at a tremendous rate these days and to study Biology is to be part of a fast developing and very exciting area of science.
Pupils entering the Fourth Year will already have studied a number of IGCSE areas and they will therefore already be part way towards their IGCSE in Biology.
Studying IGCSEs will provide students with an exceptional standard of education which is both modern and relevant. The course gives students the opportunity to experience Biology within the context of their general education. The design of the course provides a basis for progression to further study in GCE Advanced Subsidiary and Advanced Level in Biology. Students can study Biology either for an IGCSE in Biology or as part of the IGCSE in Science (Double Award); where they only study the Core content and sit Paper 1 in each of the three sciences.
How will I study Biology?
There are a variety of ways of teaching and learning the subject. Besides old-fashioned teaching we use videos/DVDs, practicals, work-sheets and research using the internet. In addition there will be a coursework element (see below). When external examinations become reasonably close you will be supplied with past papers and mark schemes so that you can see not only what examiners ask, but how they ask it and, from the mark schemes, how they think so that you can learn to think likewise.
Assessment and progression
- Single-tier; two exams; no coursework
- Grading A*- G
- Provides a sound foundation for progression to GCE Advanced Subsidiary (AS) and Advanced level, and other comparable post-16 qualifications.
With what other subjects does Biology fit?
Biology fits in very well with the other sciences, Physics and Chemistry, as well as with Mathematics. Geography and Physical Education both contain significant ‘chunks’ in common with or of relevance to Biology. Other subjects such as Art can have some relevance for diverse parts of the syllabus, but you will be at absolutely no disadvantage if you do not take these.
It is important to remember that science-based university courses often require Chemistry and frequently require Physics at GCSE and sometimes at AS/A level. Anyone not planning on taking Chemistry and Physics with Biology to GCSE needs to check on the university requirements for certain courses in which they may be interested. As an example, all medical schools at university require Chemistry to at least GCSE level and other subjects such as Ophthalmics usually have a Physics requirement.
If you have absolutely no intention of following a scientific career, then there is no problem in studying Biology even to A level without any other science subject beyond GCSE.
The word ‘Biology’ means ‘Knowledge of Life’ and that is exactly what it provides.
Why choose Biology at A level?
The aim of the course is to develop a scientific curiosity and logical approach to answering problems. It does this via one’s natural interest in how the human body functions and how we fit into the world around us. One learns about everything from the Biochemistry of living things up to the Ecological aspects of how all organisms fit together within the Earth community. As a result of studying Biology to A level, one would learn how to be analytical, critical and logical; one’s scientific interest would be partly sated and definitely stimulated. Consequently, Biology makes an interesting and useful addition to any subject combination for any potential career.
GCE BIOLOGY EXAMINATION – course AQA GCE Biology 2410
What qualifications do I need to start the A level Biology course?
In addition to the general requirement for five grade Bs, a pupil will need these to include at least a B in Biology or in both Science and Additional Science at GCSE. I cannot stress enough that to tackle the subject with any less would be futile as experience has taught us that the success rate of a GCSE grade C candidate is minimal. Anyone planning to study Medicine, Veterinary Science or Law (among others) which require A grades at A level, will have to have a minimum of an A and preferably an A* in Science subjects at GCSE. There is also no point in planning to read Medicine if GCSE Chemistry has not been obtained either as a separate subject or as part of Science and Additional Science.
What can I do at University with an A level in Biology?
There is a very wide range of careers available to a person possessing A Level or a degree in a Biology-related subject. Such courses include the pure sciences of Botany, Zoology, Biology, Physiology, Genetics and Biochemistry but also an increasingly long list of applied sciences such as Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Physiotherapy, Sports Science, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry, Soil Science, Ecology, Microbiology, Nursing, Brewing, Pharmacology, Pharmacy, Ophthalmology, Horticulture, Food Science, Genetic Engineering and Gene Therapy.
How will an A level in Biology help me in my future life and career?
With regard to a career, then as shown above there is a tremendous range of possibilities derived from an A level in Biology. In all of these, an understanding of related matters outside one’s own (and possibly narrow) professional perspective can bring matters into clearer understanding and help in solving problems caused by restricted viewpoint. It is necessary for Biochemists to have an idea as to the effects of certain chemicals in an Ecological setting and for Physiotherapists to understand the fundamentals of Biology if they are to be successful in their careers.
Even if a pupil does not follow a Biology-related course at university, then there can be few subjects for which the relevance of an A level in the subject can be more obvious. An understanding of the human body and its functioning (and particularly ‘malfunctioning’), of the place and effect of humans in the global community, knowledge of the requirements and methods of plant growth and reproduction, a basic understanding of genetics and many other parts of the Biology syllabus are of untold usefulness. It is always reassuring to understand what is happening to the body under certain conditions, particularly illness. It helps in diagnosing disorders of oneself or one’s family and hence in obtaining appropriate and speedy medical service.
In conclusion, there are dozens of careers available to a Biologist, many benefits to normal everyday life and the subject itself is interesting, stimulating and challenging. It goes very well with a good number of other subjects and is never misplaced in any combination.