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Curriculum Leader:

Mr C Jones

Department Introduction:

We aim to provide a comprehensive curriculum based upon the key principles of how organisms live and survive. We want our students to understand how different organisms function, how their bodies are organised and how they survive in the environments in which they live. We want our students to appreciate how DNA is the basis of life and the variation that they see in living things can be explained by the theory of natural selection and evolution. Above all, we want our students to enjoy the subject and appreciate the wonder and complexity of life on our planet.


By teaching our students biology, we want to give them a sense of global citizenship. We encourage them to value their place in the world and take responsibility for how their actions will affect the environment and the health of themselves and others. We aim to develop their knowledge and skills so that they can make informed decisions on scientific issues when they are adults. To achieve this, we want out students to be scientifically curious and observant. We want them to seek explanations to what they see around them but also to think critically about the scientific information they are given.


Our final aim is to instil a sense of scientific confidence that will encourage out students to follow a science related career if that us where their interests lie. We want our students to have broad horizons and high aspirations, understanding that careers in science are varied and far reaching but all have the goal of making a positive contribution to communities, society and the environment.

Department Aims:


Key Stage 3:

Biology at WGHS is taught as part of a bespoke science course which aims to promote the enjoyment of the subject, develop the practical skills that students will need to study the subject further and embed an understanding of the core principles and the more abstract ideas of the subject.


In Year 7, students begin by learning about how plants and animals are adapted to their environment and how these adaptations help them survive. They continue to explore the different ways that organisms reproduce and pass on inherited characteristics. These ideas then allow students to understand the principle of survival of the fittest and how species evolve over time.


Students start Year 8 by learning about cells and develop their microscope skills and continue through the year learning about the process that are required to keep cells alive. They learn about diet, digestion and enzymes, the circulatory and breathing systems, and photosynthesis. They finish the course by learning about ecology, applying what they have learnt to understand how organisms live together in the environment.

Key Stage 4:

AQA GCSE Biology (8461)


Students start their three year GCSE journey in year 9. Each student has access to an online text book via Kerboodle to help them with their studies.


How is Biology GCSE assessed?


At the end of year 11 there will be two externally examined written papers for Biology, each containing 100 marks and contributing 50% towards the final GCSE grade. Each paper is 1hour 45minutes long and consists of multiple choice, structured, closed short answer and open response questions.


The topics in each paper include:


Paper 1


  • Cell biology
  • Organisation
  • Infection and response
  • Bioenergetics


Paper 2


  • Homeostasis and response
  • Inheritance, variation and evolution
  • Ecology


Students should have a basic understanding of the following biological principles and be able to apply them in either paper:


  • The structure and functioning of cells and how they divide by mitosis and meiosis. Topic 1, Cell Biology.
  • That variation occurs when gametes fuse at fertilisation. Topic 6, Inheritance, Variation and Evolution.
  • The two essential reactions for life on Earth: photosynthesis and respiration. Topic 4, Bioenergetics.
  • Metabolism is the sum of all the reactions happening in a cell or organism, in which molecules are made or broken down. Topic 4, Bioenergetics.
  • All molecules are recycled between the living world and the environment to sustain life. Topic 7, Ecology.


This specification encourages the development of knowledge and understanding in science through opportunities for working scientifically. Working scientifically is the sum of all the activities that scientists do. Students will also develop their practical skills and analysis techniques through a series of required practicals. These practicals will help them to put in to practice the knowledge they have gained over the whole GCSE course as well as preparing them for their examinations.

Key Stage 5:

AQA Biology AS (7401) and A-Level (7402)


The A level course is designed to provide a suitable preparation for degree courses, while the AS course would be appropriate for any student with an interest in Biological Sciences but who does not intend to pursue a science related career. As well as developing biological knowledge and understanding the course emphasises the way biologists work and the contributions they make to modern society.


The course builds on concepts and skills that will have been developed in the new GCSE science specifications. It presents biology as exciting, relevant and challenging.


How is Biology A-Level assessed?


At the end of year 13 there will be three externally examined written papers for Biology.


Paper 1


Content from AS topics 1-4 to include:


  • Biological molecules
  • Cells
  • Organisms exchange substances with their environment
  • Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms


The assessment is a two hour paper worth 91 marks making up 35% of the A-level grade. 76 marks are a mixture of short and long answer questions, 15 marks are extended response questions.


Paper 2


Content from A2 topics 5-8 to include:


  • Energy transfer in and between organisms
  • Organisms respond to changes in their environment
  • Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
  • The control of gene expression


The assessment is a two hour paper worth 91 marks making up 35% of the A-level grade. 76 marks are a mixture of short and long answer questions, 15 marks are comprehension questions.


Paper 3


Content from topics 1-8 including practical skills.


The assessment is a two hour paper worth 78 marks making up 30% of the A-level grade. 38 marks are structured questions including practical techniques, 15 marks are critical analysis of given experimental data and 25 marks are for one essay from a choice of two titles.


Practical assessment


Practical assessments have been divided into those that can be assessed in written exams and those that can only be directly assessed whilst students are carrying out experiments. A-level grades will be based only on marks from written exams. A separate endorsement of practical skills will be taken alongside the A-level. This will be assessed by teachers and will be based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams.


All students have opportunities to use various apparatus and develop and demonstrate techniques necessary to pass their endorsement. The apparatus and practical techniques are common to all A-level Biology specifications not just AQA. Carrying out the 12 required practicals means that students will have experienced use of each of all the apparatus and practical techniques required. At least 15% of the overall assessment of A-level Biology will assess knowledge, skills and understanding in relation to practical work.

In order to be able to develop skills, knowledge and understanding, at least 10% of the marks will require the use of mathematical skills. These skills will be applied in the context of biology and will be at least the standard of higher tier GCSE mathematics.


Progression to Career/ University Courses:


Biology careers can lead you to study living organisms to help develop biological knowledge and understanding of living processes for a number of different purposes, including treatment of disease and sustaining the natural environment. Biological sciences, Research scientist, Botany, Biomedical Science, Zoology, Microbiology, Genetics, Molecular Biology, Forensic science, Marine Biology, Biochemistry, Neuroscience, Ecology, Environmental Sciences, Government agency role, Teacher, Science writer, Medicine, Veterinary Sciences and Sport Sciences, Dentistry, Pharmacology, Optometry.

Extra-Curricular Activities:

Science support club every Thursday lunch time.

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