From Charles Darwin’s 200th anniversary to swine flu, and from DNA databases to the safety of vaccines, hardly a day goes by without some item of biological interest in the news. Tomorrow’s citizens will need a sound foundation in life sciences.
Our Biology Department is staffed by an enthusiastic and experienced team of four Biology specialists and a technician. Our courses include plenty of laboratory practical work and field visits. All four laboratories are equipped with multimedia projectors linked to the School’s Intranet. We have a thriving colony of free-range South American leafcutter ants (Atta cephalotes) as well as fish, tree frogs, gerbils, orchids, and many other plants. We are fortunate in having grassland, woodland and freshwater sites within the School grounds.
Curriculum and Examinations Middle School Biology runs from Year 9 to Year 11. Year 9 students follow an introductory course based on the Cambridge Spectrum Science programme. In Years 10 and 11 most pupils study Edexcel International GCSE in Biology, while some take Double Award Science. These courses include a wide variety of class practicals, demonstrations and software simulations. These IGCSE courses are assessed entirely by external written examinations with no coursework.
Our A' Level students take the Edexcel Salters Nuffield Advanced Biology (SNAB) course. This takes an innovative and stimulating context-based approach, and is supported by excellent material on the SNAB website. The Year 12 topics are Lifestyle, Health and Risk; Genes and Health; Voice of the Genome; and Biodiversity and Natural Resources. Year 13 Biologists complete the final units of the SNAB course; On the Wild Side; Infection, Immunity and Forensics; Run for your Life and Grey Matter. These students also complete a personal research project: recent topics have investigated colour vision in maggots and how the sense of taste fades with age. SNAB Biologists visit a local zoo, carry out fieldwork on sand dunes and rocky shores on the Cumbrian coast, and take part in a molecular biology practical workshop at the LIFE Centre in Newcastle.