Biology is the branch of science that primarily deals with the structure, function, growth, evolution, and distribution of organisms. As a science, it is a methodological study of life and living things. The common objectives of biological research include understanding the life processes, determining biological processes and mechanisms, and how these findings can be used in medicine and industry.
All students will study Biology in all year groups from years 7 to 11, with many students choosing to continue studying the subject into years 12 & 13. Biology is broken down into several key strands to allow students of how life works:
- Biological molecules
- Metabolic processes
- Exchanges & transport systems
- Musculoskeletal structures & systems
- Coordination and control systems
- Microbes & Disease
- Reproduction, genetics, variation & classification
All of these strands are studied by the students in key stages 3, 4 & 5 alongside experimental and investigative practical work to demonstrate biological processes and concepts in action. The practical work also allows students to develop their planning, procedural and analytical skills, in line with the requirements of GCSE and A level, as well as helping them to further understand the scientific method that underpins all of scientific research and development – developing their scientific literacy.
There is also the possibility to take part in extra-curricular and enrichment activities with biology, including the British Biology Olympiad, the Biology Challenge and any specific projects that students come up with.
Key stage 3 Biology is taught to all students in years 7 & 8, they are taught in their form groups of 27 and have four biology lessons per fortnight.
Throughout KS3 students will be introduced to the full breadth of topics within Biology
- Food & diet
- Human reproduction
- Variation & classification
- Practical skills development & assessment
- Breathing & respiration
- Diet, health & movement
- Plant reproduction
This gives them a strong foundation or core Biology knowledge which, alongside the teaching and introduction of GCSE and A level terminology and ideas, ensures that the students are well-prepared for the rest of their Biology course.
Practical skills and the scientific method are introduced early in the year and are incorporated throughout the KS3 curriculum. This allows students the opportunity to build their confidence in the lab and develop their ability to carry out experimental procedures, interpret data and even plan their own investigations.
GCSE Biology is taught in years 9, 10 & 11 at Sutton Grammar School with students taught in their tutor groups of 27 in year 9 and then in mixed ability classes of 27 students in years 10 & 11. In year 9 the students have 4 lessons a fortnight, this increases to 6 lessons a fortnight in years 10 & 11. The GCSE is assessed at the end of year 11 as two written papers, many students then progress to continue to study Biology at A level where the knowledge and skills gained at GCSE are essential.
The course is divided into seven large topics:
- Cell Biology
- Infection and response
- Homeostasis and response
- Inheritance, variation and evolution
These topics are divided further and covered throughout the three years in an order that allows students to revisit and recap previous content before moving on and using this foundation to continue to build and develop their understanding further.
Throughout the course, the students will continue to have many opportunities to continue to use and develop their practical skills. These skills, alongside data interpretation and planning, form a core component of the examinations at the end of the course. Students will also complete the 10 required GCSE practical experiments, which are necessary to obtain their GCSE certificate and also form a key component of the end-of-course examinations.
Biology is a modular course which builds on the biological principles and processes studied at GCSE. Students will develop a greater understanding of biological facts and principles and an appreciation of their significance in our changing world.
In year 12 students have 11 lessons per fortnight. During this year they will cover the first four units:
- Lifestyle, Health and Risk:
- Biological molecules
- Circulatory system
- Lifestyle choices & health
- Genes and Health:
- DNA structure & replication
- Protein structure & replication
- Cell membranes & transport across membranes
- Monohybrid inheritance
- Voice of the Genome:
- Cell structure
- Mitosis & meiosis
- Stem cells & cell differentiation
- Gene expression
- Tissue organisation
- Biodiversity and Natural Resources:
- Adaptation, natural selection & evolution
In year 13 students have 12 lessons per fortnight. During this year they will cover the final four units:
- On the Wild Side:
- Climate change
- Immunity, Infections and Forensics:
- DNA profiling
- Bacteria & virus structure
- Barriers to infection & the immune system
- Run for your Life:
- Musculoskeletal system
- Grey Matter:
- Neuronal structure & function
- Nervous impulses & coordination
- Brain structure & function
- Vision & Learning
- Drug Effects & Development
- Genetically modified organisms
As a part of the course the students must complete a series of 18 core practical investigations, students are assessed for certain skills during these practicals over the two years to contribute towards them obtaining practical endorsement at the end of the course. Whilst this does not contribute to the students’ grades, questions about them can appear in their final written examinations and the practical endorsement itself can be a requirement for some science-based higher education courses.
Throughout the course there are also many other opportunities for practical work, allowing students to continue to develop the skills that will be necessary for any future scientific field of study that they may wish to progress into. With a qualification in Biology, you could go on to Further or Higher Education, studying Biology or one of the other sciences or related subjects. Biology is also an ideal pathway to a career in science-based industry or ecological careers.