Biology is the scientific study of life, biology is a rich and diverse field of study. Biology is versatile and ever-changing making it a study subject that is full of excitement and wonder. Our students study life at various levels, from the tiniest of cells, and organisms to entire ecosystems. Studying biology promises students an exciting and rich curriculum with a wide array of opportunities to develop various skills. Students are offered a mixture of theory and practical lessons, and a challenging and dynamic syllabus. Biology offers out students a wide array of skills which will allow them to access a plethora of different courses and career paths.
The exam board is Edexcel (Pearson 9-1) for GCSE Biology and the GCSEs are awarded under the new 9-1
grading system. All assessment at GCSE is by examination at the end of Year 11.
There are two exam papers sat at the end of year 11. There is no coursework but there are 8 compulsory
Biology core practicals that may be assessed in the written exams. For both paper 1 and paper 2:
- First assessment: May/June (at the end of year 11).
- The assessment is 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- The assessment is out of 100 marks.
- Students must answer all questions.
- The paper will include multiple-choice, short answer questions, calculations and extended open-response
- Calculators may be used in the examination.
- Available at foundation tier and higher tier.
- The foundation tier paper will target grades 1–5.
- The higher tier paper will target grades 4–9.
In Biology, at KS4 we teach the topics listed below in order to build on knowledge and fill in the gaps from KS3
Also, these topics are in line with GCSE specification and relevant for subsequent topics at KS5.
They allow pupils to develop key concepts and skills which can be further developed at KS5.
The topics are taught in a particular order to build up knowledge from the key concepts earlier on in the course .
We expect our pupils to gain a good foundation of knowledge ready to build on in their three year GCSE course.
The skills we expect our pupils to gain are a knowledge of topic specific content, exam technique, extended
writing skills, core practical skills, collaborative skills, mathematical skills and the ability to make cross-curricular links.
This will help students become well rounded individuals with knowledge and skills that are transferable to everyday
Topics 1-5 will have been covered by the end of year 10—this covers paper 1 of the GCSE. These topics provide
students with a grounding in key biological concepts, such as cell structure which underpins all of biology.
Topics 2 and 3 focus on genetics and requires a solid understanding of cell structure in topic 1
(which is covered in year 9).
Topic 5 brings all these concepts together and looks at health and disease.
Topics 6-9 are covered by March of year 11– this covers paper 2 and leaves good time for revision and past paper
Each year builds towards pupils gaining a well rounded foundation of knowledge in biology ready to build on or add
to in the following years. The curriculum also builds to formative topic assessments, which take place throughout
the year .
Our curriculum also has other experiences built in for pupils to be a part of such as a Science club and other STEM
challenges and competitions, e.g. Biology challenge, Workshops with the Welcome Collection and many more.
For A level , we follow the Edexcel Biology A Salters’ Nuffield syllabus. It provides a context led approach
which suits our students.
Good grasp of key biological concepts
Excellent experimental skills assessed via CPAC– core practical assessment criteria which students have
to demonstrate throughout the course.
Analysis and interpretation of data, application of skills to new data sets
Preparing students for undergraduate study or equivalent which in many cases may be directly linked to the
syllabus or in a related discipline.
Students need to demonstrate understanding of the syllabus and apply their knowledge to new situations
Develop transferrable skills which may be required for the world of work or further study eg. practical skills,
Topic 1 – Lifestyle, Health and Risk
Topic 2 – Genes and Health
Topic 3 – Voice of the Genome
Topic 4 – Biodiversity and Natural Resources
Topic 5 – On the Wild Side
Topic 6 – Immunity, Infection and Forensics
Topic 7 – Run for your Life
Topic 8 – Grey Matter
Each class has 2 teachers and the syllabus is spilt - Two topics are covered in term one and two topics are
covered in term 2. and 3. Towards the end of term 3, the A2 content begins to be taught. Topics 5 and 6 are
taught in term 1 of year 13 , 7 and 8 in term 2. The topics are taught in this order because the initial topics
provide students with the necessary skills ( maths and analytical skills) to tackle the synoptic nature of the exams.
Genetics and Genome is subject which governs all the topics covered. In the summer term we start topic 5 to
prepare students for the field trip which takes place in July. Forensics topic coincides with the trip to Middlesex
university to carry out the core practical in this topic.
Each topic also has maths skills which get progressively more challenging - and this is a cumulative skill which
appears in most parts of the syllabus.