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Students during a biology science lesson


Curriculum Intent:

Our intent is to empower students to explore and understand the wonderment of everyday life.  There are many challenges for a 21st Century Biologist, from saving threatened species and reversing climate change, to feeding the world and curing diseases.  We aim to engage students and equip them with skills allowing them to both contribute directly to advancing human understanding of life on Earth, and to make informed responses to data and opinion pieces in the media.  We focus on encouraging creativity in questioning, reflective evaluation of data and precise communication of understanding.

Biology is offered as:

  • Core subject Years 7, 8 & 9
  • GCSE Core Years 10 & 11
  • IB Years 12 & 13

Key Stage 3 Science

Curriculum Overview

Biology Chemistry Physics
Year 7 -Cells

-Structure and function of body systems


-Particles and their behaviour

-Elements, atoms, and compounds


-Acids and alkalis




Year 8 -Health and lifestyle

-Ecosystem processes

-Adaptation and inheritance

-The Periodic Table

-Separation techniques

-Metals and acids

-The Earth

-Electricity and magnetism


-Motion and pressure


Year 9 -How do our bodies work?

-How does exercise affect the body?

-How does our food keep us alive?

-Why is life as we know it on Earth at risk?

-How can we feed the 7.7 billion?

-Why does size matter?

-How are energy transfers useful to us?

-How is long distance travel possible?

-How do waves allow us to communicate?

-What is the difference between potential difference and current?

-What is the link between electricity and magnetism?

-What is our universe made of?

-What are salts and how do we make them?

-Why are the elements arranged as they are?

-How can we make things more sustainable?

-Is there a climate crisis?

-Who done it- can we pinpoint the murder scientifically? CSI- Rochester

-Could there be life on other planets?

Year 7

Students receive six Science lessons per fortnight, with topics rotating through Biology, Chemistry and Physics.  Following an introduction to the key Science investigative skills, students explore the topic of cells, including their adaptations and transport mechanism.  In the next topic students discover how groups of cells, tissues and organs allow the systems of the human body to operate.  Finally human and plant reproduction is covered.  Students develop their practical and inquiry skills throughout these topics, working both independently and in small groups.

Year 8

Students receive seven Science lessons per fortnight via two teachers, with topics rotating through Biology and Chemistry for one teacher.  Students begin their Year 8 studies studying the digestive system and diet, along with the impact of substance misuse. The Ecosystems topic covers plant biology, respiration and interactions between organisms within an ecosystem.  This theme is explored further through the adaptations and competition lessons with the third topic, which also covers evolution and inheritance. Students continue to develop their practical and inquiry skills throughout these topics, working both independently and in small groups.

Year 9

Students receive three Biology lessons per fortnight, exploring a ‘big question’ linked to topics that impact everyday life.  Lessons consist of a balance of taught content, hands-on examination and investigative discovery, designed to develop their scientific thinking and practical skills.


Each topic will have an End of Topic Assessment. This will include a variety of question types and will ask to the student to not only recall information but also apply it. A key component of scientific thinking is being able to apply knowledge to new areas based on what has already been learned. Practical skills are very important in science and these will be developed during lesson time. The application of scientific thinking to practicals will be assessed. This includes the setup and design of a practical, the process of data collection, the creation of tables and graphs, the processing of data, conclusions that can be reached, and evaluation of the practical.

Exams will be cumulative assessments that will challenge students on all areas of science they have covered.

  • Year 7 will have an End of Year Exam
  • Year 8 will have both a Mid-Year Exam and an End of Year Exam
  • Year 9 will have an End of Year Exam

Home learning will be assigned throughout. Year 7 and 8 will use Kerboodle for their Home learning. There are a variety of tasks to help students challenge their understanding through online quizzes.

Further Reading/Resources

– The BBC Bitesize website summarises the knowledge covered at KS3 and includes useful explanatory videos and activities to check understanding.

– Current developments in Biology are explained on the “Science News for Students” website. Here experts review current research papers and introduce ‘power words’ to build understanding and scientific vocabulary. (Life, Human and Earth topics)

– Delve into stories about the Natural History Museum’s collections, scientists and research to uncover the history of life on Earth


Key Stage 4 Biology

Curriculum Overview

Students at Key Stage 4 have two periods a week studying GCSE Biology either as a separate AQA qualification or part of the Trilogy Combined Science qualification.

Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 5 Term 6
Year 10 Cell Biology Organisation Health and disease Plant Biology Ecology
Year 11 Homeostasis and response Inheritance, variation and evolution Revision  


 Year 10

In “Cell Biology” students learn about cell structure and the use of microscopes, different cell types, cellular transport and cellular respiration.

In “Organisation” students learn about the digestive system, enzymes, and the circulatory and gas exchange systems, including the effect of exercise.

In “Health and disease” students learn about communicable and non-communicable diseases, including plant diseases, the body’s defences against disease and treatments for these diseases.

In “Plant biology” students learn the structure of leaves, the process and role of photosynthesis, and transport in plants.

In “Ecology” students learn about the structures of ecosystems, including element and energy flow and the role of decay.  They study the feeding relationships within an ecosystem and the adaptations of the organisms in relation to abiotic and biotic factors.  Students study practical ecology techniques.  They also learn about the effect of pollution on biodiversity and also consider positive interactions humans can have in an ecosystem.

Students will develop their practical skills through a range of tasks.

Year 11

In “Homeostasis and response” students learn about plant and human hormones.  They study the control of body temperature, blood glucose levels and water balance.  Students learn about the menstrual cycle and fertility technologies.  They also learn about the brain and the nervous system, including reflex actions and the eye.

In “Inheritance, variation and evolution” students learn about reproduction on a cellular level and the structure of DNA.  They consider how proteins are made and the effect of mutations.  Students learn to predict inheritance theoretically and study the work of pioneers of inheritance and evolutionary theories.  They consider how variation links with natural selection and the evidence to support this theory.  Finally students study biotechnologies.

Students will develop their practical skills through a range of tasks.

Assessment at GCSE

– Paper 1: 50% of qualification. 105 minute written examination in which students are required to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of Topics 1-4 and the associated experimental and data skills.

– Paper 2: 50% of qualification. 105 minute written examination in which students are required to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of Topics 5-7 and the associated experimental and data skills.

 Further Reading/Resources

– The BBC Bitesize website summarises the GCSE knowledge and includes useful explanatory videos and activities to check understanding, as well as sample past paper questions.

– The Freesciencelessons YouTube channel has a range of videos covering a wide range of GCSE Biology topics with clear explanations and animations.


Key Stage 5 Biology

Curriculum Overview

Students at Key Stage 5 follow the IB Biology course as part of the IB Diploma.

Term 1 Term 2 Term 3 Term 4 Term 5 Term 6
Year 12 Molecular Biology

(Additional higher level (AHL): Plant Biology)

Cell Biology

(AHL: Nucleic acids)

Human Physiology

(AHL: Metabolism and Bioenergetics)

Independent investigation

(AHL: Physiology 1)

Year 13 Ecology, evolution and biodiversity (AHL: Physiology 2) Option: Neurobiology and behaviour SL (and AHL) Genetics SL (and AHL) Revision

Year 12

In “Molecular biology” students learn about the molecules that contribute to metabolism, including the actions of enzymes and the processes of protein synthesis, respiration and photosynthesis. This is extended in the “Nucleic acids” and “Metabolism and Bioenergetics” topics for higher level students.

In “Cell biology” students learn about cell structures, origins, transport and division.

In “Human physiology” students learn about the systems of the body including the digestive, circulatory, immune, gas exchange, nervous, hormonal and reproductive systems. In higher level “Physiology” students learn about movement and the role of the kidneys, as well as extending their understanding of the immune and reproductive systems.

In “Plant biology” students learn about plant transport, growth and reproduction.

In the independent investigation, students design a protocol to investigate any biological question. They spend at least 10 hours collecting and analysing data, before evaluating their research.

Year 13

In “Ecology” students learn about ecosystems, including energy flow and carbon cycling, as well as climate change.

In “Evolution and biodiversity” students learn about natural selection, evolutionary relationships and classification.

In “Neurobiology and behaviour” students learn about neural development and the brain, and perception of stimuli, with high level students also covering innate and learned behaviour and the effect of drugs on the nervous system.

In “Genetics” students learn about the structures and processes of inheritance, including predicting inheritance patterns, and study biotechnologies. Higher level students extend these concepts and also study gene pools and speciation.


 Assessment at IB

  • Paper 1: Core content                                                    20% SL                  20% HL

Multiple choice questions covering the core and additional higher level content, as appropriate.

  • Paper 2: Core content                                                     40% SL                  36% HL

Data-based, short-answer and a choice of extended-response questions from the core and additional higher level content, as appropriate.

  • Paper 3: Practical and options                                         20% FL                  24% HL

Section A – Written answers covering experimental skills and techniques, analysis and evaluation, using unseen data linked to the core and additional higher level content, as appropriate.

Section B – Short-answer and extended-response questions from the appropriate option.

  • Internal assessment: Independent investigation             35% SL                  25% HL

A 6-12 page write-up of an investigation taking about 10 hours, with a purposeful research question to demonstrate personal engagement, exploration of the context, analytical and evaluative skills and scientific communication.

Further Reading/Resources

– An excellent resource for clear explanations, extension information, and super-condensed summaries is the BioNinja website. They even have an app!

– Some example individual investigations from the IBO support site.


British Values:

British Values in Biology

Democracy: Peer review to allow publication of results.

Rule of law: Practical rules for safe experimentation. Ethics of cloning, genetic modification, stem cell therapies, drug testing, human impact on biodiversity and climate. Evolution taught in schools.

Individual liberty: Stem cells, IVF, Contraception.

Mutual respect: Peer review, applying the scientific method.

Tolerance of those of different faiths and beliefs: Stem cells, IVF, Contraception, Evolution.