We aim to inspire our students to develop their knowledge and understanding of the natural world…
What could be more relevant and interesting than understanding how we function and how we interact with our environment? We not only strive for academic excellence, but try to develop an interest in the world around us. The department is passionate about all areas of Biology and we aim to enthuse our students about animals, plants, conservation, ecology, medical research, microbiology, biotechnology… the list goes on!
The Biology Department is an enthusiastic and progressive department striving to stimulate and challenge motivated students. We are not complacent about our results and we constantly evolve our teaching styles and keep up-to-date with recent subject developments. The department is staffed by four specialists and Biology is taught as a separate subject throughout the school. There are currently three well-equipped laboratories used for Biology teaching, and lessons are expertly prepared by two science technicians shared with Physics and Chemistry. Staff 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 are fortunate to benefit from extensive grounds where we can carry out ecology fieldwork; this includes open grass, woodland and a pond. We also have a new greenhouse, an allotment area, gerbils, hamsters and a small collection of carnivorous plants.
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. Biology is taught as a separate science and is studied for two lessons across a fortnight, lessons are an hour long.
Topics covered in the Year 7 scheme of work include cells, classification, adaptations and ecology.
Topics covered in the Year 8 scheme of work include microbes, biotechnology, immunity, body systems and human reproduction.
Key Stage 4
From Year 9, all students follow AQA GCSE Biology (specification code: 8461). 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. Textbooks are provided and there are four lessons across a fortnight. 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 A2 Biology (specification code: 7402). Currently there are 61 students in Year 13 and 58 in Year 12. Each group is taught by two teachers and there are nine lessons across a fortnight. There is also an annual sixth form residential field trip to Somerset.
A large number of our students go on to study vocational courses, such as medicine and dentistry, but we have been delighted to see some students choosing to study Biological Sciences at university.
Recent examination results
Our results reflect the hard work of students and teachers, and are consistently outstanding. Results in public examinations have been very pleasing and the statistics for 2016 and 2017 are shown below:
|2017||A*||A||B||C||D||E||% A* – A|
|2016||A*||A||B||C||D||E||% A* – A|
The ethos within the department is a belief that teaching should be as practical and active as possible. We aim to enthuse students by building a thorough grounding in the core principles of Biology, whilst also providing tasks that stretch and challenge. We encourage students to engage in their learning by asking difficult questions and discussing current issues.
Independent learning is emphasised, as is the need to extend beyond the constraints of the specification. We do not believe in spoon-feeding and lesson activities are tailored to different teaching groups accordingly.
Every year, Year 10 students compete in the Biology Big Quiz at The University of Birmingham. Year 12 and 13 biologists can choose to participate in the Biology Olympiad and all students in Years 9 and 10 are entered for the national Biology Challenge. Results for national competitions are shown below. We are particularly proud that one of our A level Biologists was a finalist in the British Biology Olympiad, placing in the top 16 students nationally.
|Award||Biology Challenge- Y9||Biology Challenge- Y10||Intermediate Biology Olympiad – Y12||Biology Olympiad –Y12 and Y13|
|Gold||4||16||7||9 (6 of whom got through to round 2)|
University masterclasses and entry to external competitions are actively promoted, although we believe that students should take responsibility for embracing these opportunities.
There is a popular biology club, hamster appreciation society and a gardening club. Responsibilities for extra-curricular activities are shared within the department and vary from year to year. Recent achievements include gaining all five of the national Royal Horticultural Society School Gardening Awards. To complete these, the boys learned about gardening, grew and delivered flowers to local old people’s homes, made sandwiches with their salad vegetables, and sold their produce and plants within school. Other exciting ventures in recent years include biology club incubating chicken eggs and monitoring their hatching and development before housing with a local chicken keeper. The popularity of this activity led to hand-rearing runner ducks and quails, none of which were eaten!
For several years, a visiting neuroscientist has run 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. We have also had animal man workshops to teach Year 7 students about adaptations and conservation.