The GCSE course enables students to develop an in depth knowledge of the subject and the practical skills necessary to develop their understanding. There are a wide range of topics that students will cover, from the blood and circulation to ecosystems.
Pupils at The Crypt follow a bespoke ‘Foundations in Biology’ course that fully prepares them for the GCSE course they cover in years 10 and 11. During Year 9 pupils focus on ensuring they have an in depth understanding of practical skills and the knowledge required to help them become successful biologists at GSCE. Full of practical experiments, whilst developing fundamental knowledge in biology this year underpins their GCSE.
In year 10 pupils are following the AQA 9-1 GCSE course; this is a new specification with first examination in 2017. In Year 11 pupils follow the Certificate in Biology offered by Edexcel. Both these courses prepare pupils for the challenging new A-level specification. Pupils cover fundamental biological knowledge such as the functioning of the heart and lungs as well learning about plant transport and reproduction. By year 11 our pupils move to the more challenging areas of the course covering topics such as the structure and function of the kidneys and inheritance. Pupils have plenty of opportunities to develop their practical skills in areas such as microscopy and dissection.
The GCSE course is an excellent foundation for those who wish to move to studying Biology at A-level. Biology is a very popular subject to study at A-level as it can be the stepping stone for a huge variety of careers, as well as helping pupils learn important skills such as logical and analytical thinking. We follow the OCR A course which covers both plant and animal biology.
We have very high expectations of our pupils and are always impressed with how hardworking and conscientious they are. They are expected to work independently developing a variety of skills, including research skills and computer modelling, both of which will hold them in good stead at university. Many of our students have been very successful at achieving places at Oxford, Cambridge and other Russell Group universities and we support them to achieve their best through our Med/Vet/Dentistry careers group.
The A-level course is an excellent foundation for those who wish to study Biology at degree level, particularly for those wishing to study medicine or veterinary science, however it is also popular with pupils who predominantly sit humanities AS-levels, but wish to broaden the variety in their studies. We have close links with Bristol University, and run a project called ‘Lab in a Lorry’ with them every year. This allows our students to develop their level of knowledge and understanding, and to get a flavour of Biology at degree level.
One of the key strengths of the biology department is offering additional support to pupils who require it. This may be on a one-to-one basis to help pupils improve their study skills or it may be with revision sessions on topics pupils find particularly difficult. With changes in the A-level specification we will be working closely with pupils to help them develop their mathematical skills as this now makes up 10% of the overall AS-level.