The Biology Department is welcoming and successful while continually striving to improve. To this end, the teaching is constantly adapting to changes in the current state of knowledge within the breadth of specialist areas that come under the Biological Sciences. The teaching staff have a wide range of interests and experience, which enables the department to provide an inspirational and stimulating environment for students of all ages. The aims of the department include not only increasing the biological and scientific knowledge of the students, but also promoting their inquisitiveness and developing their experimental and analytical skills. The laboratories are fully resourced and the department is well-supported to provide an environment conducive to a ‘hands-on’ learning approach.
From September 2008, the Department has been teaching the new OCR Biology specification to all those who opt for A-level Biology. This is a modular specification with examinations in January and June. In recent years, there have normally been three AS teaching groups and two A2 groups. At the end of the Lower Sixth and after the June series of module examinations, those sixth form students intending to continue with Biology at A2 attend a residential field course, covering much of the ecological content of the A2 in an experiential way. Other practical work at A-level is fully incorporated into lessons. This not only adds to the interest of the course, but also prepares the students for the assessment of their practical skills, which involves internally assessed practical tasks, taken under examination conditions. A pleasing number of our students gain places to further their study of Biology in some form at university. This includes students who go on to study for applied degrees such as Medicine and Veterinary Science as well as those taking pure subjects including Marine Biology and Environmental Science.
Genetically modified bacteria (on the right).
Our A2 biologists inserted a bioluminescent gene from a jellyfish causing these bacteria to glow under UV light.
The Science Faculty currently offers Science, Additional Science and the three separate sciences (‘triple science’) at GCSE. These are covered in Forms 4 and 5 (Years 10 and 11). While many students take the Science and Additional Science route a significant number prepare for GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The content of GCSE Biology is taught by subject specialists. Experimental work (including field work) is integral to the Biology content for GCSE, not least for the purpose of assessing the pupils' practical skills as part of the requirement for the GCSE courses.
Key Stage 3:
The Third Form (Year 9) pupils follow a pre-GCSE Science/Biology course that covers aspects of Human Health, Reproduction and Ecology. Practical and experimental work is integrated throughout the year. The aims of the course are: to cover many biological issues that are significant to the future lives of our pupils and at the same time to provide a good preparation for GCSE with respect to the skills and content required in Form 4 (Year 10) and beyond (see above). As at GCSE, Form 3 Biology is taught by subject specialists.
First and Second Form pupils (Years 7 and 8) are taught a Science course incorporating elements of Biology as well as Physics, Chemistry and general Science skills. Each class of Form 1 and 2 pupils have the same teacher all year to ease the transition to Science at secondary school level.
Combined with the Third Form teaching described above, we aim to cover both the National Curriculum for Science and the content of the Common Entrance Syllabus.
Head of Department:
David Kennedy BSc (Hons), CBiol, MSB
Don Clarke BSc (Hons), CBiol, MSB
Andrew Hammersley BSc (Hons)
Jackie Fletcher BSc (Hons)
Diane Horsley BSc (Hons)
Liz Cheeseman HNC