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Curriculum Director Rob Benson
Email r.benson@habstrustsouth.org.uk



Biology is the study of life. When we say ‘life’ we are not just talking about us, human beings, we are talking about all animals, plants, bacteria and viruses. Students will explore how we start off with inanimate molecules and atoms such as DNA and get the complexity of living things. Questions such as ‘What makes something living?’, ‘How do living things convert energy from one form to another?’ and ‘How do they use this energy for multiple reactions?’ are explored throughout the Biology curriculum. Another key concept that is explored is how we are similar to other organisms such as plants, insects and bacteria and the role of DNA in reproduction and containing information.


We start the curriculum with looking at Cells which are the building blocks of life and work our way towards how we can engineer different molecules and finally looking at Ecosystems and Material Cycles to help understand how to sustain our natural resources. This takes students on a systemic journey so that at each phase they are learning content built from the previous stage. Skills are embedded throughout the study of Biology, such as, development of scientific thinking, experimental skills and strategies, being able to analyse and evaluate information and using scientific vocabulary, quantities, units, symbols and nomenclature. 


Key Stage 3 Overview

The Key Stage 3 curriculum starts each year looking at the key scientific skills that pupils will need, such as asking scientific questions, how to plan investigations, recording data, analysing data and evaluating data. Students will arrive already having studied the life cycle of plants and animals including growth, development and reproduction and the structure of plants. They should also have looked at some animals having skeletons and muscles for support, protection and movement. They should have studied the digestive system in humans and looked at the different parts that make it up, different factors such as drugs and diet that impact on the way the human body functions, and the classification of living things into broad groups and variation and adaptation of different living organisms. This is all built upon in the curriculum where students will discover what animals and plants are made of. They will also meet some tiny organisms that can only be seen under a microscope. They will explore how different structures work together to keep an organism alive. They will also look at how new plants and animals are created through the process of reproduction. They will then go on to compare the effects of healthy and unhealthy lifestyles on your body. They will look at why organisms need energy to function effectively. Finally, they will investigate the differences that exist between organisms, and why this is important for their survival.


Year 7 topics

Biology 1 Chapter 1: Cells

Biology 1 Chapter 2: Structure and function of body systems

Biology 1 Chapter 3: Reproduction

Biology 3 Chapter 1: New technology in Biology

Year 8 topics

Biology 2 Chapter 1: Health and lifestyle

Biology 2 Chapter 2: Ecosystem processes

Biology 2 Chapter 3: Adaptation and inheritance

Biology 3 Chapter 2: Turning points in Biology

Biology 3 Chapter 3: Detection in Biology

Year 9 topics

Transition topics:

Biology Topic 1: Key concepts in Biology

Biology Topic 2: Cells and Control

Biology Topic 3: Genetics


Key Stage 3 Homework

A range of extended writing questions and project work and will be set once a fortnight.


Key Stage 4 Overview

The key ideas specific to the Biology content include:

  • life processes depend on molecules whose structure is related to their function
  • the fundamental units of living organisms are cells, which may be part of highly adapted structures, including tissues, organs and organ systems, enabling living processes to be performed effectively
  • living organisms may form populations of single species, communities of many species and ecosystems, interacting with each other, with the environment and with humans in many different ways
  • living organisms are interdependent and show adaptations to their environment
  • life on Earth is dependent on photosynthesis in which green plants and algae trap light from the Sun to fix carbon dioxide and combine it with hydrogen from water to make organic compounds and oxygen
  • organic compounds are used as fuels in cellular respiration to allow the other chemical reactions necessary for life
  • the chemicals in ecosystems are continually cycling through the natural world
  • the characteristics of a living organism are influenced by its genome and its interaction with the environment
  • evolution occurs by a process of natural selection and accounts both for biodiversity and how organisms are all related to varying degrees.


Year 10 topics

Biology Topic 4: Natural selection and Genetic Modification

Biology Topic 5: Health, disease and the development of medicines

Biology Topic 6: Plant structure and their function

Biology Topic 7: Animal coordination, control and homeostasis

Year 11 topics

Biology Topic 8: Exchange and transport in animals

Biology Topic 9: Ecosystems and Material cycles


How is this qualification assessed?

Exam board: Edexcel

Please note that there is no longer any controlled assessment in the Sciences. Instead students have to complete required practicals and these will be assessed in the terminal examinations.

Separate Science assessment overview:

Paper 1 (1BI0/1) – 1hour and 45 minutes – 50% of qualification

Content: Topic 1: Key concepts in Biology, Topic 2: Cells and Control, Topic 3: Genetics, Topic 4: Natural selection and Genetic Modification, Topic 5: Health, disease and the development of medicines

Paper 2 (1BI0/2) – 1hour and 45 minutes – 50% of qualification

Content: Topic 1: Key concepts in Biology, Topic 6: Plant structure and their functions, Topic 7: Animal coordination, control and Homeostasis, Topic 8: Exchange and transport in animals, Topic 9: Ecosystems and material cycles

Combined Science assessment overview: (all 6 Science papers will inform the final double grade)

Paper 1 (1SC0/1B) – 1hour and 10 minutes – 16.67% of qualification

Content: Topic 1: Key concepts in Biology, Topic 2: Cells and Control, Topic 3: Genetics, Topic 4: Natural selection and Genetic Modification, Topic 5: Health, disease and the development of medicines

Paper 2 (1SC0/2B) – 1hour and 10 minutes – 16.67% of qualification

Content: Topic 1: Key concepts in Biology, Topic 6: Plant structure and their functions, Topic 7: Animal coordination, control and Homeostasis, Topic 8: Exchange and transport in animals, Topic 9: Ecosystems and material cycles


Key Stage 4 Homework

A range of extended writing questions and exam questions and will be set once a fortnight.


How is this subject assessed?

Once each chapter (Year 7 and 8) or topic (Year 9, 10 and 11) has been taught there will be an end-of-chapter test giventhe following lesson. Once a test has been completed a reflection task is set for students so that they can work on any areas where gaps are still occurring and a further exam question will be given to them on that part of the topic. Gaps are identified by a full question-level analysis conducted after each assessment. At GCSE, there is a mixture of different question styles, including multiple-choice questions, short answer questions, calculations and extended open-response questions.


Books are marked twice a term with a piece of deep marking taking place once a term on an extended writing piece. Deep marking will include some time given for students to feedback to marking.


How does this subject fulfil SMSC needs?

Social: Science is changing our society. Life expectancy is getting longer, people are driving more efficient and eco-friendlier cars, and more and more people are putting solar panels on their rooftops. Our society has become dependent on scientific developments which we could not have foreseen 50 years ago but also our lives are likely to change significantly in the future because of our reckless damaging activities to the environment as a human society. Students must consider their impact on the world around them and start to look at what we can do to help the next generation have a habitable planet. Areas we specifically focus on are that of pollution, global warming and destruction of the ozone layer. Learners will develop personal qualities and social skills by listening to the viewpoints of different scientific groups and politicians and developing the ability to take a full and active part in lessons. Students will also look at ways of participating co-operatively and resolving conflict on issues such as should we carry out PGD? They will also look at how science is portrayed in the media.

Moral: Our understanding of science has allowed us to develop technology we couldn’t have imagined 50 years ago. Now however, we must start deciding if we should we do all the scientific activities we are able to or morally should we decide not to. This can be as simple as ‘Should we test medicines for humans that could save lives on animals causing them cruelty?’. It could be as complex as ‘Should we allow somatic or germ line cell therapy?’. Moral development is a vital part of any scientist’s development. Students will need to develop a good understanding of it to firstly pass exams which always comprise ethical questions but more importantly to become a good rounded scientist. Learners will look at moral values and ethical issues such as the human impact upon the planet and environment and the ethics of cloning and genetic testing. They will also look at consequences of their actions such as the legal aspects of drug abuse and the growing impact of rising obesity levels in western society.

Spiritual: Sometimes science and spiritual ideas do cause conflict but in a modern society it is important to understand why these conflicts arise so we can respect the views of others and move forward. It is seen more often that science is able to stand alongside the spiritual beliefs of many. This is looked at often from a neutral standpoint within Science lessons. Learners will explore the ideas of evolution, the use of stem cells in reproductive research and the cure for inherited diseases, embryo selection, the use of genetic testing for some religious groups, the use of genetically-modified crops and bacteria, the ethics of cloning animals, the implications of abortion, genetic diseases and human behaviour. They will get the opportunity to use their imagination and creativity in learning via developing speaking skills, presentation skills and building active display boards. They will also use descriptive writing to elicit emotion and feelings via silent debates and acting and role play.

Cultural: Scientific development comes from all across the world, from people of all backgrounds and cultures. Some of science’s most important discoveries have come from other parts of the world and it’s important for students to understand this as many believe that progress comes largely from the UK or America. It is also important to understand how the different cultures around the world can have different impacts on the planet and what impact more economically-developed countries have on poorer areas. This will also be vital into the future as we need to monitor the impact of quickly developing cultures around the world on our environment. They will look at exploring understanding and respecting diversity by looking at topics such as understanding genetic variation and plant and animal biodiversity. They will also look at celebrating the role different scientists have played in our society.


How does the subject challenge more able pupils?

Students are grouped by ability and achievement for all Science lessons. At Key Stage 4, top groups are entered for separate sciences. Challenge tasks are incorporated into all schemes of learning. One or more of the following four forms of challenge can take place in a science lesson:

  1. Cognitive conflict – present a scenario that is incompatible with students’ current thinking and then present an alternative idea
  2. Pace – limit the time taken to do something
  3. Off you go… – this limits the number of instructions before an open task is set. It is best used when the outcome is focused so students know when they have succeeded. This gives them immediate feedback.
  4. Probing questions – ask fundamental questions that promote deep learning 


What provision is made for pupils with SEND?

Quality first teaching in all of our lessons places an emphasis on high-quality inclusive teaching that utilises a range of strategies to support the learning of pupils with SEND in the classroom. These include

  • Differentiation by questions and outcomes
  • Resources modelled depending on need e.g. blue writing and yellow background for dyslexic students and overlay provided
  • Use of SEND register and guidance documents for specific needs provided by SENCO
  • Joint planning with a learning support assistant
  • Multisensory teaching
  • One-to-one teaching after class where needs are identified.


Enrichment and extra-curricular opportunities

There is a range of regular activities at all key stages, including: KS3 STEM Club, KS3 STEM competitions – Raspberry Pi, KS4 Science lecture series and KS4 exam skills workshops. In addition, there are trips such as to CERN and to the Science Museum. There is the CREST Award and every March we celebrate Science Week with a project fair.


Useful websites:

BBC bite size: https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/subjects/z4882hv