Biology – how could we live without it?

Biology is taught as a separate subject in Years 7-11 by specialist teachers in dedicated subject-specific laboratories. A range of resources and activities are used to support the pupils' learning. There are two full time members of staff, two part time members and a full time technician.

The aims of the department are to help each pupil:

• develop a passion for, and curiosity in, the living world;
• learn and master scientific skills;
• understand the inter-relationships between living things and the planet on which they live;
• appreciate the ethical and moral issues associated with current advancements in the life sciences;
• prepare thoroughly to achieve the highest standards in examinations at GCSE and A-level.
 
The study of biology is extremely popular throughout the school. At GCSE, the Edexcel IGCSE specification is followed throughout Years 9-11. Pupils are examined in two written papers at the end of Year 11 which test understanding of facts and theories as well as knowledge of practical procedures. There is no controlled assessment or coursework aspect to the IGCSE.
 
Biology has a very high uptake in the sixth form. The new AQA Biology A-level specification is followed, with examinations taking place at the end of the year 13. There is no controlled assessment for A-level biology, but a separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A-level. All pupils will carry out a series of required investigations which will be assessed by teachers based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams.

Our Year 13 students competed in the annual British Biology Olympiad which was taken by over 7500 students. One of our students was awarded a gold award and one was awarded a bronze award, with others being highly commended. Pupils from Year 12 also took part in the Intermediate Biology Olympiad. Our year 10 students competed in the Biology Challenge, and were awarded the following prizes: one gold award, five silver awards and four bronze awards. 

The biology department enhances the teaching of the curriculum by offering various extracurricular activities:

•Biology Clinic
•Life Sciences
•UKCAT and BMAT preparation
•Biology Olympiad, and Intermediate Biology Olympiad at Sixth Form level
•Biology Challenge for GCSE students
•Pet Care Club

Visits and field work also take place throughout the academic year in order to complement school-based study. For example, we take full advantage of the proximity of Chester Zoo and its Education Centre.