Qualifications in biology lead onto a very wide range of university courses, apprenticeships and careers, which can include traditional careers such as medicine, veterinary science, and research to media, forensics, diagnostics, law and many, many, more.
In Years 12 and 13 the students follow the OCR Biology A Specification. This develops many of the ideas and theories studied at GCSE such as genetics, homeostasis, bioenergetics and ecology. The course consists of 6 taught modules and 12 Practical Endorsement Activities.
The course is taught by two teachers with modules split between them. The ideas taught at the beginning of Year 12 within Foundations in Biology act as the foundation for all the following topics and are therefore referenced continuously throughout the two-year course. The order in which modules are taught reflects how topics link together, recapping and expanding on ideas throughout the course. Also, teaching Biodiversity and Ecosystems in the summer term is beneficial because plants are growing.
In the summer term of Year 12 the students spend a number of weeks carrying out their required PAG 12 investigation, during which they research, plan, carry out, present and evaluate a practical on a given topic. They produce a scientific paper with correct referencing, a detailed method and statistically analyse their results. These skills have been taught previously in biology lessons, but also as part of their Challenge Projects and Extended Project Qualification.
Near the end of Year 12 students sit the AS papers internally to check their progress. They therefore need to cover all of the AS topics (modules 1-4) in the first year.
At the start of Year 13 the students sit the Breadth in Biology AS paper in their first week back. This is to force the students to remind themselves of the content covered in year 1.
The students complete full mocks of all three papers before starting a comprehensive revision programme focusing of exam technique.
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- Foundations in Biology (2) covers cell structure, biological molecules, nucleotides and nucleic acids, enzymes, biological membranes and cell division.
- Exchange and Transport (3) covers the circulation of molecules round plants and animals and builds on the Organisation unit from GCSE, as well as linking to the biological molecules topic above.
- Exchange and Transport continued
- Evolution and Disease (4) covers how white blood cells function and cell signalling with Evolution recaping and expanding slightly on what is taught at GCSE.
- Biodiversity (4) covers sampling and conservation.
- Genetics and Evolution (6) covers the control, mutation, inheritance and artificial manipulation of genes. The manipulation of genes then flows into the wider biotechnology topic.
- Communication, Homeostasis (5) focuses initially on the receptor, modulator, and response loop crucial in communication. The role of hormones and nerves in homeostasis is followed by how the nervous system works.
- Genetics and Evolution continued
- Communiction, Homeostasis
- A-level assessment
A-level Biology Assessment
Two x 2 hour 15min exams (paper 1 Modules 1, 2, 3 & 5, paper 2 Modules 1,2,4 & 6)
One x 1 hour 30min exam (Unifying Concepts – more problem-solving and application of biology questions that comprise elements from multiple modules)
In addition to the exams each student has to complete 12 practical endorsement activities, whilst although not assessed, are a compulsory component of the course.