Course Outline – Biology
The Biology curriculum is designed to develop the skills needed for our students to become capable and confident scientists, incorporating as many practical activities as possible. We endeavour to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based careers, to share our passion and enthusiasm for Biology with our students and to show the relevance of the subject to their everyday lives. We also discuss ethical issues within Biology and encourage students to see the importance of biological advances, as Biological knowledge currently changes at a fast pace. Our teaching assumes that all students could be the scientists of the future if they so choose, and allows them to achieve to the best of their ability.
Through the Biology curriculum we teach many transferable skills and an understanding of how science works, contributing to the cultural capital of the students. Topics are revisited and developed and concepts of additional complexity are introduced at appropriate points. Correct scientific terminology is used throughout, especially during practical work as this is applicable across the sciences.
The Biology Curriculum
- Years 7 and 8 – the aim of the course is to provide a strong basis for GCSE study in Biology as well as fulfilling the requirements of the National Curriculum Key Stage 3. This requires the students to develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through progression; scientific enquiry though biology practical work, and become equipped with scientific knowledge and understanding of the uses and implications of Biology. Practical work forms over 50% of the Year 7 and 8 curriculum, allowing students to develop a scientific attitude, experimental skills, analytical and evaluation skills, as well as measurement and appropriate mathematical skills. Topics include: Cells, Classification, Reproduction, Microbiology, Digestive System, Genetics, Ecology, Photosynthesis and Flowering Plants.
- Years 9 to 11 – the course followed is the Edexcel 1BI0 specification, which provides continuity from Years 7 and 8 and is spread across 3 years for a blended curriculum. This allows sufficient time for practical work that goes beyond the core practicals so that further practical and investigative skills can be developed to ensure students become competent practical biologists. It also allows students to study the content thoroughly to ensure a deeper understanding and provide the best possible preparation for those who go on to study A Level Biology. The course moves with pace, while allowing opportunities to revisit earlier topics and allow sufficient time for revision and examination practice. GCSE Biology topics include: Cells and Control, Genetics, Natural Selection and Genetic Modification, Health and Disease, Plant Structures and Functions, Animal Coordination, Control and Homeostasis, Exchange and Transport in Animals, Ecosystems and Material Cycles. The topics are logically sequenced to facilitate progression of subject knowledge and skills, following our curriculum intent.
- Years 12 and 13 – we follow the OCR A specification for A Level, which is an up-to-date specification reflecting the current advances in Biology. Biology is a very popular A Level at CCHSG, with 4 or 5 small classes each year. Students complete practical sessions in approximately 50% of lessons that facilitate progression and complement theory lessons. Many topics build on GCSE content while some are completely new to students. Students have two different Biology teachers so that two topics are taught at a time. The course moves at a good pace, with regular assessment, while allowing opportunities to revisit earlier topics and giving time for revision and examination practice. A Level Biology topics include: Foundations in Biology (cells, biomolecules and, enzymes), Exchange and Transport in Plants and Animals, Biodiversity, Evolution and Disease, Communication, Homeostasis and Energy, Genetics and Ecosystems.
The department is fortunate in having a suite of twelve purpose built laboratories served by five preparation rooms, staffed by three technicians. This results in almost all science lessons being taught in laboratories and allows practical work to be fully integrated into the lessons at the most opportune time.
Co-curriculum and Extra-curricular Activities
Enthusiasm for Biology is promoted by co-curricular opportunities including: BioSoc (a student run society for all Year Groups), competitions such as the MISAC annual microbiology competition, the Biology Challenge, the Intermediate Biology Olympiad and the Biology Olympiad. Other competitions are advertised throughout the year, including science project work and prize essays. Students are encouraged to attend local scientific talks as well as in-school science talks given by professionals, often alumni, currently working in STEM professions. There are regular trips such as Ecology field trips and visits to the Royal Society Summer Exhibition, the Babraham Research Institute Sixth Form Projects Day and GCSE Science Live. Students also have the opportunity to carry out additional dissections if they wish.
Opportunities for Further Study and Destinations
Students studying A Level Biology frequently go on to study science based degrees. In 2021 students left CCHSG to study the following courses at university: Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Biology, Marine Biology, Biological Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry, Optometry, Osteopathy, Natural Sciences, Pharmacology and Neuroscience, to name but a few.