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 greenhouse, an allotment area, guinea pigs and a small collection of much-loved 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:
- Cells & Microscopes
- Bones & Muscles
- Human Reproduction
- Plant Reproduction
Topics covered in the Year 8 scheme of work:
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 up to 25 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). There were 66 students for the 2021 A2 examinations, with 74 preparing for those in June 2022. Each group is taught by two teachers and there are nine lessons across a fortnight.
A large number of our students go on to vocational courses, such as medicine and dentistry, but we are delighted that some students choose 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. The statistics for 2019 (last external public examinations prior to the pandemic) are that 64% of our students obtained a grade 8 or 9. For A level, 62% of students secured an A or A*, with 80% scoring A*-B grades.
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.
Responsibilities for extra-curricular activities are shared within the department and vary from year to year. Recently these have included a popular biology club, hamster appreciation society, rat dissection club, microbiology club, allotment club and gardening club. Our gardening club has gained 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 care homes, made sandwiches with their salad vegetables, and sold their produce and plants within school. Other exciting ventures include biology club incubating chicken eggs and monitoring their hatching and development before housing them with a local chicken keeper. The popularity of this activity led to hand-rearing runner ducks and quails, none of which were eaten!
Every year, our Year 10 students compete in the Biology Big Quiz at The University of Birmingham; we were the overall winners in 2018. All students in Years 9 and 10 are entered for the national Biology Challenge and our sixth form biologists can choose to participate in the Biology Olympiads. We are particularly proud that one of our A level Biologists was a 2017 finalist in the British Biology Olympiad, placing in the top 16 students nationally.
Since 2015, our A level biologists have enjoyed an annual residential field trip to FSC Nettlecombe, Somerset. Outside speakers have included a visiting neuroscientist for Year 13 students and a live animal workshop for Year 7 students. University masterclasses and entry to external competitions are actively promoted, although we believe that students should take personal responsibility for embracing these opportunities. Unfortunately, the pandemic has currently curtailed most extracurricular opportunities but we hope to resume these as soon as possible.