There are three Science departments, whose aim is to instil a love of science, to help our pupils see the importance and relevance of science in their world, and ultimately, to inspire them to follow a career in the sciences. We have high expectations of all pupils and, wherever possible, we deliver the curriculum using practical and investigative approaches.

From Year 9 onwards, the material in all three Science subjects is GCSE standard and all lessons are taught by specialist teachers. Lessons contain practicals where appropriate, so experimental and analytical skills can be developed.

Biology is a vast and increasingly important subject in today’s world, encompassing many topics at the frontiers of modern science. It is relevant to everyone’s life, addressing aspects such as health and disease, inherited characteristics, food and drink production and our interactions with the natural world. Biology helps learners understand some of the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of life on our planet: from the exciting advances recently made in genetics to the importance of conserving species which have existed over extended periods of time; and from how our bodies work to what the inside of a cell actually looks like.

GCSE Biology

GCSE Specification: Edexcel Pupils sit two papers at the end of Year 11, both 1 hour and 45 minutes long. Each paper is worth 100 marks and 50% of the GCSE. Topics 1-5 are examined in Paper 1, whilst topics 1 and 6-9 are examined in Paper 2.

Year 9

Topic 1: Key Biological Concepts

Pupils will begin by studying animal and plant cells under light microscopes and gain an understanding of the differences in structure. Biological drawing will be incorporated into the study of different kinds of animal cells. Enzymes will be introduced, with pupils running investigations into how different factors affect enzyme function.

Topic 2: Cells and Control

Cell division and growth are the focus for the beginning of the topic – this includes mitosis, cancer cells and stem cells. The use of stem cells in medical treatment and research is discussed and the topic then moves on to the brain, the spinal cord and the use of scans to investigate brain function. The topic finishes with the nervous system, concluding with the structure and function of the eye.
Year 10

Topic 3: Genetics

The beginning of the topic covers reproduction, meiosis and DNA. Pupils will then move on to learn about the formation of proteins and how this leads to variation at the genetic level. This follows on to inheritance, missing alleles and the effect of mutations.

Topic 4: Natural Selection and Genetic Modification

The first half of the topic focuses on Darwin’s theory of evolution as well as classification. The second half of the topic develops knowledge of genes in agriculture and medicine, fertilisers and biological control.

Topic 5: Health, Disease and the Development of Medicine

Health and disease are covered in detail, from communicable diseases to cardiovascular diseases, pathogens, viruses, plant diseases and the immune system. The topic ends with antibiotics and monoclonal antibodies.

Topic 6: Plant Structures and their Functions

Pupils begin by learning about photosynthesis and factors that affect it. This continues on to how plants absorb water and nutrients and finally looks at transpiration/translocation, plant adaptations, plant hormones and their uses.
Year 11

Topic 7: Animal Coordination, Control and Homeostasis

A number of important mechanisms in the body are explored, such as the control of metabolic rate, the menstrual cycle and the hormones that control it. It also covers the regulation of blood glucose, diabetes, thermoregulation, osmoregulation and the kidneys.

Topic 8: Exchange and Transport in Animals

This topic focuses on the circulatory system, including the heart. Knowledge of cellular respiration is developed, as well as factors affecting diffusion.

Topic 9: Ecosystems and Material Cycles

This topic focuses on Ecology. Concepts include biotic and abiotic factors, communities, assessing pollution, parasites, biodiversity, food security, the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the nitrogen cycle and rates of decomposition.

A Level Biology

Specification: OCR A There is no AS examination; all pupils follow the full two year A Level course. This is made up of six modules which are examined in three papers at the end of the two-year course. Each exam will include 10% higher level Maths skills.

The following modules are studied through the course:

Year 1

  1. Development of Practical Skills in Biology
    This module is assessed throughout the course in a range of practical investigations.
  2. Foundations in Biology
    This module includes the structure and functions of cells, biological molecules, nucleic acids and enzymes.
  3. Exchange and Transport
    This module looks at the ways animals and plants exchange substances with their environment, examining the lungs, gills, heart and vascular tissues.
  4. Biodiversity, Evolution and Disease
    This module examines communicable diseases, how they are spread and how the body responds. It also covers biodiversity and how organisms evolve and are classified.

Year 2

  1. Communication, Homeostasis and Energy
    This module covers a wide range of processes in organisms including the nervous and hormonal systems and the functions of the kidney, liver and pancreas. It also focuses on respiration and photosynthesis.
  2. Genetics, Evolution and Ecosystems
    This module focuses on genetics and inheritance, examining the processes involved in DNA profiling, cloning and biotechnology. It also deals with the importance of sustainable ecosystems in a world with an increasing population.
Paper 1

2 hours and 15 minutes written examination

100 marks

37% of total A Level

Biological Processes

Pupils are assessed on content from Modules 1, 2, 3 and 5.

Paper 2

2 hours and 15 minutes written examination

100 marks

37% of total A Level

Biological Diversity

This paper examines content from Modules 1, 2, 4 and 6.
Paper 3

1 hour and 30 minutes written examination

70 marks

26% of total A Level

Unified Biology

Content from Modules 1-6 is assessed.
Non-examination assessment

12 Core Practical Activities

Assessed internally and recorded as either a Pass or a Fail which are reported separately on the exam certificate.
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