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 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. 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 a very high uptake in the Sixth Form. The 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 and will be assessed by teachers based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills.
Our Year 13 students compete in the annual RSB British Biology Olympiad which was taken by over 9000 students this year. One of our students was awarded a gold and four were awarded bronze awards, with others being highly commended. Pupils from Year 12 also take part in the RSB Intermediate Biology Olympiad. Our Year 10 students competed in the RSB Biology Challenge, and were awarded the following prizes: three gold awards, seven silver awards and fourteen bronze awards.
The biology department enhances the teaching of the curriculum by offering various extracurricular activities:
•British Science Week
•UKCAT and BMAT preparation
•Biology Olympiad, and Intermediate Biology Olympiad at Sixth Form level
•Biology Challenge for GCSE students
•Pet Care Club
Visits and fieldwork 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.