What could be more relevant and interesting than understanding how we function and how we interact with our environment? This is the ethos we aim to encourage within the department. We not only strive for academic excellence, but try to develop an interest in the world around us.
We have invested in a range of plants and animals to inhabit the Biology laboratory and the Nature Club meets several times a week to care for the gecko, stick insects, fish, carnivorous and succulent plants. A new venture started this year, with the club incubating chicken eggs and monitoring their hatching and development before housing with a local chicken keeper.
We also have an active allotment group; they meet at lunchtimes and enjoy growing a range of herbs, fruit and vegetables from seed.
Biology is taught as a separate subject throughout the school. The department is staffed by 3 full time, enthusiastic specialists, all of whom teach Biology from Year 7 to Year 13.
Key Stage 3
All pupils follow a common course. Teaching throughout KS3 is in form groups (max. 32). The course is designed to enthuse young, enquiring minds with a combination of challenging practical and theory work.
Topics covered in the Year 7 scheme of work: classification; adaptations to habitats; health and ecology.
Topics covered in the Year 8 scheme of work: cells; biotechnology; microbes and immune response; digestive system and human reproduction.
Topics covered in the Year 9 scheme of work: variation and inheritance; plant transport, photosynthesis and transpiration; circulatory system; respiratory system and respiration; skeleton, muscles and movement.
Years 7 and 8: 2 lessons across 2 weeks.
Year 9: 3 lessons across 2 weeks.
Key Stage 4
All pupils follow the AQA Level 1/2 Certificates in Biology specification (Code: 8401). We aim for high levels of academic success achieved through stimulating and varied teaching activities. Teaching throughout KS4 is in four sets of 23 or 24 boys. Each set is of mixed ability.
Year 10 and 11: 4 lessons across 2 weeks.
It is departmental policy to try to ensure that the same member of staff stays with a set throughout KS4.
The Post 16 course currently offered is AQA Biology (Advanced) (AS Specification code: 1411; A2 specification code: 2411). The subject, although always having had a good uptake, has grown in popularity in recent years and there are now 4 sets of up to 20 students at both AS and A2.
Teaching of each set is shared between two members of staff, and there are 9 lessons across 2 weeks.
We enter our Year 10 students into the national Biology Challenge, run by the Institute of Biology; this year they performed extremely well with 64 (out of 91) students achieving a certificate of some level. We are also hoping to set up a Science Forum run by our A level students, to discuss current issues in the field of Biology.
Our A level students benefit from attending master classes at Aston and Birmingham Universities; we run the popular Brain Day for Year 13 students, where they learn about the latest innovations in studying and understanding how the brain works, as well as observing a brain dissection. There is a Bioethics group that meets weekly with students from the girls school; they have the opportunity to research and prepare presentations and discuss current issues of interest.
We were the first department to offer the Extended Project Qualification, allowing a small number of students to carry out in depth research in an area of Biology that interests them. This has been very successful and is now offered in other departments.
We are well resourced, with well equipped laboratories, allowing staff to incorporate practical work into their teaching at all levels. This develops the boys’ practical skills and deepens their understanding of the theory, as well as providing an enjoyable and lively learning environment.
We encourage students to engage in their learning by asking challenging questions and discussing current issues. A large number of our students go on study vocational courses, such as Medicine and Dentistry, but we have been delighted to see an increase in students following their interest, by choosing to study Biological Sciences at University.