Year 9

Beginning in year 9, the students follow a bespoke curriculum that provides them with a solid foundation to progress into study at GCSE. The major content areas are biological systems and processes, plants and photosynthesis and inheritance. Each unit starts by briefly covering what the students should have learnt already in years 7 and 8. The focus is then on literacy, numeracy and laboratory skills. Literacy skills include understanding command words, using key words and structuring answers correctly. Numeracy skills include graph drawing and analysis, using basic maths and taking accurate measurements. Laboratory skills include planning valid practicals, using equipment safely and interpreting and evaluating results. Click on the unit titles below to view BBC Bitesize content.

Autumn Term - Biological systems and processes

Students study biological systems and processes in the autumn term to help them gain a secure understanding of key concepts before moving on to units that require them to apply this knowledge. Students will learn about how structure of cells, tissues and organs relate to their function.

Spring Term - Inheritance

During the spring term, students study inheritance and through this unit will learn that science is a process where scientists work objectively. Through discussion of research, students will appreciate that scientists work collaboratively and modify explanations based on new evidence. Towards the end of the unit, pupils will complete a project where they will decide on the appropriate way to collect, record and process data. They will have an opportunity to evaluate their results and identify further questions arising from them.

Summer Term - Plants and photosynthesis

During the summer term, students will study the topic of photosynthesis and the importance of plants. Students will have the opportunity to make links to their learning in chemistry and physics as they will be learning about the importance of plants in energy transfers. After students have completed their mock, they will complete a series of lessons that prepare them for their GCSE study: understanding command words, plotting graphs, revision techniques and an introduction to required practicals.

GCSE Biology

In years 10 and 11 the students follow the AQA GCSE Biology Specification. The course introduces and develops the ideas and theories surrounding how organisms function and evolve. Each unit has at least one compulsory practical where the students draw on their laboratory skills learnt in Year 9. Understanding of these practicals is assessed in the exams. The majority of the course is taught in Year 10 so there is time for a full revision program of study at the end of Year 11 leading up to the Biology GCSE exams. Click on the unit titles for content via BBC Bitesize.

Year 10

Autumn Term 1: Cell Biology (unit 1) covers basic concepts of the cell and the transport of substances across membranes.

Autumn Term 2: Organisation (unit 2) explains how the organism is adapted to maximise the transport of substances, which links back to the transport of substances across membranes covered in cell biology. Infection and response (unit 3) starts with how the body is adapted to stop the entry of pathogens.

Spring Term 1: Infection and response (unit 3) continues with how the body responds when they do gain entry. It also covers the rise of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Spring Term 2: Infection and response (unit 3) continued. Bioenergetics (unit 4) focuses on the transfer of energy in respiration and photosynthesis and links back to the transport of oxygen, glucose and carbon dioxide covered in Organisation.

Summer Term: Homeostasis and response (unit 5) covers how the body reacts to external stimuli and the control of internal conditions. This links back to the transport and respiration topics found in cell biology, organisation and bioenergetics units.

Year 11

Autumn Term 1: Inheritance, variation and evolution (unit 6) starts with how an organism is a product of its genes and the environment it develops in. Genes are linked back to the production of proteins at ribosomes from the Cell biology unit and how changes in the genes can lead to changes in enzymes, a type of protein, that were covered in the organisation unit. Evolution of species is linked back to the production of antibiotic resistant bacteria.

Autumn Term 2: Ecology (unit 7) covers human impacts on the environment, how biomass gets transferred through ecosystems and the carbon, nitrogen and water cycles. The carbon cycle links back to respiration and photosynthesis from bioenergetics and the nitrogen cycle links back to the production of proteins in the organisation unit.

Spring Term 1: Ecology continued

Spring Term 2: Revision

Summer Term: Revision continued followed by GCSE assessment

GCSE Biology Assessment

Two exams, each 1 hour 45min long and contributing 50% of the overall grade:

  • Paper 1 - units 1, 2, 3 & 4
  • Paper 2 - units 5, 6 & 7

Students take both papers either at foundation level (grades 5-1) or at higher level (grades 9-4). Both papers contain a mixture of multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response questions.

In addition to the exams each student has to complete 10 required practical activities, which although not assessed, are a compulsory component of the course.