Key Stage 4
- The current Y10 (2015-16) will be the last cohort to complete the Edexcel Certificate in Biology (KBI0), which is I-GCSE approved for teaching in UK schools.
Assessment comes in the form of two written papers to be completed in May-June 2017. Biology Paper 1B is 2 hours and accounts for 67% of the total marks, while Biology Paper 2B is 1 hour and accounts for the remaining 33% of the marks. Both papers include questions covering the practical aspects of the course.
The course is divided into five sections: 1.The nature and variety of living organisms; 2. Structures and functions in living organisms; 3. Reproduction and inheritance; 4. Ecology and the environment; 5. Uses of biological resources.
Year 11 (2016-17)
- Section 4: Ecology and the environment – i) The Organism in the Environment; ii) Feeding Relationships; iii) Cycles within Ecosystem; iv) Human Influence on the Environment
- Section 5: Use of Biological Resources – i) Food Production; ii) Selective Breeding; iii) Genetic Modification; iv) Cloning.
From September 2015, our Year 9 students have been following the Edexcel (9-1) Biology specification at KS4. There are two examinations in Biology and all of these are taken at the end of Year 11.
The topics taught in each year group are as follows:
- Topic 1 – Key concepts in biology
- Topic 2 – Cells and control
- Topic 3 – Genetics
- Topic 4 – Natural selection and genetic modification
- Topic 5 – Health, disease and the development of medicines
- Topic 6 – Plant structures and their functions
- Topic 7 – Animal coordination, control and homeostasis
- Topic 7 – Animal coordination, control and homeostasis
- Topic 8 – Exchange and transport in animals
- Topic 9 – Ecosystems and material cycles
Paper 1 (1BI0/1H)
Written Paper – 1 hour 45 minutes – 100 marks – 50% of the qualification. The paper assesses content from Topics 1 - 5.
Paper 2 (1BI0/2H)
Written Paper – 1 hour 45 minutes – 100 marks – 50% of the qualification. The paper assesses content from Topics 1, 6 - 9.
Both papers comprise a mixture of different question styles, including multiple-choice questions, short answer questions, calculations and extended open-response questions.
Students complete a minimum of the eight mandatory core practicals. Their knowledge and understanding of these practical techniques and procedures is assessed in the written exams.
It is expected that the majority of students will follow the separate science route, receiving a separate 9-1 grade for each of the subjects Biology, Chemistry and Physics. However, in circumstances where a student may benefit from studying a narrower specification, they will be entered for the Combined Science qualification, receiving two 9-1 GCSE grades.
Key Stage 5
- At A Level, our students follow the Edexcel Biology (Salters Nuffield) specification. Salters Nuffield Advanced Biology provides background to the SNAB approach that the school uses to teach biology through context rather than concept.
Practical skills are developed throughout the course. Students will be given the opportunity to use relevant apparatus and techniques to develop and demonstrate these specific practical skills, by completing the 18 core practicals prescribed as a minimum. Practical skills are assessed indirectly via the exams and directly by teacher assessment of students' competency. There is no longer a coursework component to the course.
The A Level is split into 8 topics that are taught over two years. Topics 1-4 will be taught in Year 12:
- Topic 1: Lifestyle, Health and Risk
- Topic 2: Genes and Health
- Topic 3: Voice of the Genome
- Topic 4: Biodiversity and Natural Resources
Assessment at AS Level
- Paper 1 Lifestyle, Transport, Genes and Health - Topics 1 & 2 (1hr 30, 50%)
- Paper 2 Development, Plants and the Environment - Topics 3 & 4 (1hr 30, 50%)
Students that progress on to complete the full A Level are taught Topics 5-8 in Year 13:
- Topic 5: On the Wild Side
- Topic 6: Immunity, Infection and Forensics.
- Topic 7: Run for your Life
- Topic 8: Grey Matter
Assessment at A Level examines all specification content (first examined in June 2017):
- Paper 1 The Natural Environment and Species Survival - Topics 1-6 (2hr, 33.33%)
- Paper 2 Energy, Exercise and Coordination - Topics 1-4, 7 & 8 (2hr, 33.33%)
- Paper 3 General and Practical Applications in Biology - Topics 1-8 (2hr, 33.33%)
Study skills at A level
It is important that students learn to develop effective independent study skills and take responsibility for their own learning. It is expected that they undertake 5 hours per week of independent study, to complete both set tasks, as well as supplementary notes and additional reading, in order to consolidate and extend their learning. The department offers two opportunities for such independent work. On the shared area they are able to access more than 300 Biology Factsheets, written by experts to take students beyond A level Biology. Subscription to snabonline opens up opportunities to counter areas of weakness through 'Skills Support', e.g. for students not studying Chemistry there are support sections to help understand some basic chemistry ideas. There are also tailored links to web sites that expand on the activities that have taken place in class and include current research. Students will be provided with usernames and passwords to access the site both in school and at home. Independently, students are encouraged to update their knowledge by reading journals such as New Scientist or Student BMJ. They are also provided with reading lists which suggest books that would be of interest for particular parts of the specification. Other ways of keeping in touch are through the science columns of the former 'broadsheet' newspapers, as well the diverse array of programmes available on Radio 4 and those regularly broadcast on television, including Panorama and Horizon.