Why are individuals different? Can plants save the world from global warming? How can we feed the world? Should we genetically engineer organisms to be more like our “perfect” requirements? Will medicine be able to make us live forever?  Biology is the study of living things, both those alive today and those we know about from fossils.  It includes Human Biology but goes well beyond this, covering Ecology, Plant Biology and Microbiology.

We aim to encourage an inquisitive and practical approach to the subject.  We are a department that values inquiry over mere information and encourage creative thought.  In Biology lessons we encourage our students to take risks and make it acceptable for them to try and fail – the best scientists learn from their mistakes!

We hope that through the study of Biology we can open the girls’ eyes to the wonder of the living world from sub-cellular organelles through to whole ecosystems and human impact on the environment.

A wide range of activities are used to make the subject as practical, engaging and challenging as possible from Key stage 3 through to Key Stage 5. Practical work forms the backbone of class activities wherever possible in order to develop analysis and interpretation skills as well as helping the girls to challenge their understanding of the Biological concepts learnt. The emphasis in Biology lessons is to give the girls an opportunity to work things out for themselves to help them to gain a deeper understanding rather than just learning facts. Other class activities such as internet research, peer teaching, role play and field work ensure that lessons are active and engaging whilst also providing challenge.

Curriculum

Year 7

Year 8

Year 9

Year 10

Year 11

Year 12

Year 13

Term 1

Autumn Term 1

Tea Making
-Introduction to Science skills

Kitchen
-The Particle Model
-Changes of State
-Heat transfer
-Reversible and Irreversible Reactions

Assessment tasks:
-Assessed homework(s)
-End of unit test

Spring Term 1

Alien
-Forces and Motion
-Mass and Weight
-The Earth, Moon and the Solar System
-Exoplanets
-Interpreting Graphs

Assessment tasks:
-Assessed homework(s)
-End of unit test

Summer Term 1

Forensics
-Elements, Mixtures and Compounds
-Chemical Reactions
-Separation Techniques
-Word Equations
-Scientific Method

Assessment tasks:
-Assessed homework(s)
-End of unit test

Term 2

Autumn Term 2

A&E
-Cells, tissues and organs
-Reproduction
-Adolescence and Puberty
-Scientific Method

Assessment tasks:
-Assessed homework(s)
-End of unit test

Spring Term 2

Electricity and Magnetism
-Current, Voltage and Resistance
-Series and Parallel Circuits
-Electromagnetism
-Planning Investigations

Assessment tasks:
-Assessed homework(s)
-End of unit test

Summer Term 2

Extinction
-Climate Change
-Adaptation and Classification
-Analysing Graphs

Assessment tasks:
-Assessed homework(s)
-End of unit test

Term 1

Autumn Term – Spring Term

Live & Kicking

-Digestion

-Respiration

-Gas Exchange

-Muscles and the Skeleton

Term 2

Spring Term – Summer Term

Species at War

-Food webs &Food chains

-Energy Flows

-Pyramids of Numbers & Biomass

-Bacteria, Microbes & Fungi

-Defence against Diseases

Term 1

-Cell Structure

-Cell Division

 

TERM 3

-Enzymes

-The Heart

Term 2

-Transport in Cells

-Animal Tissues & Digestive system

 

Term 1

-Heart, blood, lifestyle diseases & cancer

-Infection & Response

-Photosynthesis

 

TERM 3

-The Nervous System & the Eye

-Organisms and the Envrionment

Term 2

-Respiration

-Homeostasis and Hormones

Term 1

-Evolution

-Hormones

Term 2

-Reproduction and Genetics

-Human Imact

Term 1

-Biological Molecules

Biological molecules

Nucleic acids

-Cells

Cell structure

Transport across cell membranes

Cell recognition & the immune system

TERM 3

-Organisms respond to changes in their environments

Homeostasis

-Genetics, populations, evolution & ecosystems

Populations in ecosystems

Term 2

-Organisms exchange substances with their environment

Exchange

Mass Transport

-Genetic information, variation & relationships between organisms

DNA, genes & protein synthesis

Genetic diversity

Biodiversity

 

Term 1

-Energy transfer in and between organisms

Photosynthesis

Respiration

Energy & ecosystems

-Genetics, populations, evolution & ecosystems

Inherited change

Populations and evolution

 

Term 2

-Organisms respond to changes in their environments

The Kidney

Response to stimuli

Nervous coordination & muscles

-The control of gene expression

Gene expression

Recombinnt DNA technology

 

Staff

The Department boasts a wide range of experience across the whole realm of Biology.  Current staff are:-

  • Dr A Bailey (Head of Biology)
  • Mrs T Kirby
  • Miss E Lock (Year 10 PAL)
  • Mrs M Begum (part time)
  • Mrs H Flora (Maternity cover)
  • Dr H Pullin (Maternity leave)
  • Miss A Edwards (Biology Technician)

Additional Information

Key Stage 3

In Year 8 and 9 pupils have one biology lesson each week.

The Year 8 scheme follows on from the WIKID scheme and consists of two modules. Unit 1 ‘Live and Kicking’ covers digestion, enzymes and health issues, whilst Unit 2 ‘Species at war’ is based on ecology and energy transfers.

In Year 9 students begin their GCSE studies following the AQA 8461 specification. This is a ‘new’ style GCSE which is assessed through two written papers both taken at the end of Year 11.

An emphasis on Practical skills is made through 12 required practical investigations which are carried out during the course and these are assessed within the written papers.

Throughout Year 8 and 9, each section of study (normally about six weeks) ends with an end of topic test; these grades are used in report writing.  Practical activities are monitored and feedback given.  In addition, home learning and class work is assessed and contribute to our growing picture of each student’s current effort and achievement. From all these aspects of assessment the girls receive suggestions about how to improve and how they might stretch themselves further in Biology.

Key Stage 4

All girls take single subject Biology at GCSE following the AQA specification.

Year 10 and 11 continue to study the new GCSE AQA 8461 specification, which they started in Year 9. This is a ‘new’ style GCSE which is assessed through two written papers both taken at the end of Year 11.

An emphasis on Practical skills is made through 10 required practical investigations which are carried out during the course and these are assessed within the written papers.

End of topic tests, along with assessment of the work set in class and for home learning provide the girls with feedback on their progress throughout the course.

Post 16 (A Level)

We follow the AQA A Level Biology specification 7402 which consists of 3 written papers at the end of Year 13. Students complete 12 required practical investigations, for which they have to meet 5 competencies and the skills gained are assessed in their written papers.

Throughout the course the girls are assessed by both of their Biology teachers. Their contribution to class work and discussions is commented upon, home learning is regularly marked and improvements suggested. Practical skills are observed and outcomes monitored. Individual tasks such as topic tests as well as mock exams also allow the girls and their teachers to be aware of current levels of attainment.

 

How can parents help?

  • The Birmingham Wildlife Conservation Park and the Botanic Gardens make a pleasant half-day out and will expand your daughter’s experience of the natural world.
  • Growing things is fun!  Even windowsill pots give girls the chance to experience the thrill of seeing a plant grow and thrive under their care.
  • Keeping a pet is a great opportunity for your daughter to grow in understanding of life processes.
  • Thinktank, Birmingham’s science museum has many exhibits related to Biology and its applications.
  • There is lots of Biology on television: any of the Attenborough programmes, Chanel 4’s Inside Nature’s Giants, some of the Horizon programmes.
  • Radio 4’s “Material world” is great too – and available as a podcast!
  • Encouraging your daughter to:
    • Read the teacher comments and where relevant act on them.
    • Reflect on assessments to enable them to identify how to improve.
    • Make revision materials at the end of each topic
    • Review their work frequently
    • Use the text book to consolidate classroom learning and read ahead to be ready for new topics
    • Explain their learning from lessons to you or their siblings
    • Ask your teacher for a more detailed explanation

Where next

  • Beyond the obvious but fiercely competitive medicine & dentistry there are the popular and still highly demanding courses like pharmacology, optometry and audiology.
  • Biology has many aspects which can all provide degrees and job opportunities.  Consider zoology, applied biology, sports science, agriculture, physiology, forestry, neuroscience, ecology, and marine biology.  Then there are the many biochemical aspects – biochemistry, genetics, food scientists, pathology, histology, bio-physics, bio-engineering and the like.
  • Many Biologists end up using their biological skills in their work, but many gain other positions in industry through their ability to interpret and communicate well and the literacy, numeracy and graphical skills developed whilst studying Biology.

Opportunities out of lessons

  • The allotment club
  • Science club for years 7 and 8
  • The Biology Challenge organised in Y10, and Olympiad for Sixth Formers
  • Activity day trips to Science Live (y10) and Science museums in London (y11)
  • Aston University Microbiology day (y9)
  • Society of Biology lectures at Birmingham University
  • Nuffield Bursary placements in y12
  • Library Periodicals: Biological Sciences review, New Scientist magazine,  BBC Focus magazine
  • Library Books: The Blind Watchmaker,  The Red Queen, Nature via Nurture, Bad Science and many others

Useful links

AQA GCSE Biology specification

AQA A Level Biology specification

For general biology revision try:

Scool 
GCSE Bitesize
Biology Mad

The Society of Biology is the professional body for Biologists – they offer student membership too:

The BBC Science and Nature website is always worth a look:

Also try their news section:

An extensive project about the diversity of life is here:

You might also try some of the TED talks – this one about marine biology is great:

But there are hundreds of others.