Biology – how could we live without it?

Biology is taught as a separate subject in Years 9-13 by specialist teachers in dedicated subject-specific laboratories. A range of resources and activities are used to support the pupils' learning. There is one full-time member 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. In Years 7 and 8 biology is taught as part of the 'Activate Science' course which investigates the big ideas of organisms, ecosystems, and genes.  At GCSE, the AQA biology specification is followed throughout Years 9-11. Pupils are examined in two papers at the end of Year 11 which will test knowledge and understanding of the topics covered. There is no controlled assessment; instead, pupils’ knowledge of scientific apparatus and techniques will be assessed across both papers.

Biology has an extremely high uptake in the Sixth Form. We follow the AQA Biology A-level specification, with examinations taking place at the end of the Year 13. A separate endorsement of practical skills is completed using twelve required practical investigations. Teachers assess each student’s competency in a range of skills.

Our Year 13 students compete in the annual Royal Society of Biology (RSB) British Biology Olympiad. Pupils from Year 12 also take part in the RSB Intermediate Biology Olympiad, and our Year 10 students compete in the RSB Biology Challenge.

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

•Biology Clinic
•British Science Week
•UCAT 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.