Biology

The aims of the Biology Department are to:

  • To stimulate pupils' curiosity and to sustain and develop their enjoyment and interest in biology and the natural world.
  • To develop an appreciation that humans are living organisms holding a place in nature and in society, as well as having a profound effect on them.
  • To develop an awareness of our body's physiology and to promote healthy lifestyles.
  • To explore the social, ethical, environmental and technological aspects of biology and to consider the importance and value of these in society.
  • To develop an understanding of the scientific method and its application.

Biology is taught by a team of three full time and two part time biology teachers, each of whom is well qualified and enthusiastic. The department is based in three well-equipped teaching laboratories. Technical support is provided by a dedicated prep room and well qualified technician. The department has three video projectors, three electronic whiteboards and a two Flexicams, two digital microscope, data-logging equipment and is well resourced for GCSE and A-level practicals.

We aim to make the teaching of GCSE and A-level courses a stimulating and interactive process and hence to encourage a conscientious approach to learning by our pupils and the development of a sound understanding of the principles underlying the facts. A Biology Club is run for Year 7 and Year 8 pupils with the aim of providing opportunity for some extra-curricular biology practicals, such as dissecting owl pellets. A lunch time study group also provides an opportunity for interested year 13 students to discuss recent biological advances and to help prepare them for interviews. The department recently coordinated the planting of 1600 trees in a new woodland on the school campus. This year the department has started a Gardening Club for pupils of all ages.

Year 7

This ‘Foundation Course’ emphasises skills and the fundamental principles of Biology. This ranges from the characteristics of living things, cells and other level of organisation, classification and reproduction in plants and animals. There is also an emphasis on practical skills and an experimental approach to science.

Year 8 - 11

We continue the KS3 syllabus in Year 8 and start the GCSE course in Year 9. At the end of Year 9 most students opt to take Biology at GCSE. In all years there is a strong emphasis on ecological investigations allowing us to make the most of our beautiful environment. Students gain experience of fieldwork in aquatic, woodland and coastal ecosystems.

In the Sixth form

A-level is taught from the AQA Specification in Biology. There are usually about forty biologists studying A-levels in any one year. We again take advantage of our local environment and give our students a strong grounding in ecological fieldwork. The most able biologists will be entered for the Society of Biology ‘Olympiad’ exam and our students have had success in this in the past. Results at A-level have been consistently strong with a high percentage gaining A and B grades. In 2009 the department won a Good Schools Guide award for the standard achieved by girls taking the Advanced Extension Award over the last three years. We run a popular dissection club for sixth form students.

Other activities

The department also organises lectures from visiting speakers:

2008 Professor John Endler – ‘Habitat, the colour of light, colour vision and visual signalling in birds’
2009 – Richard Pearce – ‘The ecology and conservation of sharks’
2009 – Dr N. Markham and Dr M. Miller – ‘Preparing to be a doctor’
Annually – Exmoor Zoo
2010 – Dr Joah Madden “Sexual selection in Bower Birds”
2011 - Dr Robert Enever, Natural England, "The Science behind reducing fish discard from trawlers"
2012 – Dr Safi Darden – ”Sexual selection in guppies”

Trips and fieldwork

Year 7 Bristol Zoo
Year 8 Hartland - Rocky shore and North Devon churchyard to study lichens
Year 8 River Heddon – Freshwater invertebrates and ecology
Year 10 Ecological methods fieldwork on the river Bray
Year 12 Succession on Braunton Burrows
Year 13 Rocky shore ecology

Careers

Biology is a popular subject at A-level. It works well in combination with several other A-levels, including Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology, Geography, Physical Education and hence can help to prepare the student for a wide range of careers.