Biology

The ethos of the Biology department is essentially to encourage and develop curiosity and enthusiasm about the natural word. We aim to deliver our course content through practical work as far as it possible, teaching the key principles of the scientific method. This approach builds transferable skills and develops resilience and creativity in the pursuit of solutions to problems.

The Biology department is staffed by an enthusiastic and experienced team of specialists with a passion for their subject, each with their own particular area of interest. We also have our own dedicated Biology technician to support practical lessons.

We offer our students numerous opportunities to enhance their learning: a wide range of trips, such as our Year 8 trip to Twycross Zoo and the A-Level Science Live conference; visiting speakers and events, such as the Big Bang Fair; internal and national competitions; our Horti and Bio Societies; STEM club and even the opportunity to visit Costa Rica in Year 11 and 12!

Inside our five modern laboratories you will see that we have a fantastic range of equipment and even some living specimens. We are fortunate to also have a greenhouse, two ponds, woodland, and grassland on site, in which pupils of all ages are able to conduct a range of investigations.

The Biology department are keen to develop independent learners and provide lots of online support for our students. We subscribe to sites such as Quizlet and Educake but also make use of numerous online activities and videos to consolidate and enhance learning.

Staff

  • Dr. K. L. Fulton B.Sc. (Dunelm), PhD. (Nottingham), Head of Biology
  • Mrs. P. Clare
  • P. Cox
  • Dr. S. L. Ewers
  • Mrs. A. M. Ewington
  • Dr. C. G. Fearon

Lower School

Biology is an important part of the core curriculum throughout the lower school, with all pupils covering topics in Years 6 and 7 through general Science lessons, where a single teacher will deliver the Programme of Study across all three scientific disciplines.

YEAR 6

Biology is taught as part of the general science programme. Topics include food chains and habitats.

YEAR 7

Biology is taught as part of the general science programme. Topics include, microscopy and cells.

YEAR 8

Pupils have two periods a week. The scheme of work includes the biochemistry of nutrition, microorganisms, classification and reproduction. Most lessons incorporate practical work.

YEAR 9

Pupils have two periods per week usually this will consist of a double period practical. Topics include the movement of molecules into and out of cells, breathing and cellular respiration, enzymes and digestion.

GCSE

The main teaching of IGCSE Biology takes place in Years 9 to 11. The department follows Edexcel’s IGCSE, which has a broad and fascinating specification. Topics lead on from each other logically so that students are guided through the workings of organisms at the cellular level, all the way to looking at how individuals fit into their ecosystems. The teaching includes a wide variety of practical work, to enhance learning and help pupils develop their investigative and experimental skills. Experiments include extracting DNA from fruit, investigating digestion using a model gut, kidney and eye dissections, enzyme experiments, and studying animal and plant habitats through field-work. The skills developed will be assessed through questions in written examinations rather than coursework. 

Whilst certainly an enjoyable and interesting subject for pupils with no plan to take Sciences further, Edexcel IGCSE Biology provides an excellent preparation for any pupil wishing to study the subject to A-Level, and is vital for those considering a career in the Life Sciences. An increasing number of pupils at Leicester Grammar School go on to read medicine, veterinary medicine or dentistry, for which this qualification is essential. 

In Years 10 and 11, pupils have four periods a week of which one double period is usually a practical. Topics covered include; homeostasis, nervous communication, genetics and genetic diseases, genetic engineering, plant biology, reproduction, ecosystems and pollution. Many of these are topical issues, such as stem cell research, organ transplantation, diabetes, neurological diseases, genetic modification, evolution, crop production, fertility and conception.

IGCSE Programme of Study 

  • Section 1: Nature and variety of living organisms 
  • Section 2: Structures and functions in living organisms 
  • Section 3: Reproduction and inheritance 
  • Section 4: Ecology and the environment 
  • Section 5: Use of biological resources 

Assessment 

Biology is assessed at the end of Year 11, through two externally-assessed papers:  

  1. Biology Paper 1: 2 hour paper, weighted at 61.1% of the qualification 
  2. Biology Paper 2: 1 hour and 15 minute paper, weighted at 38.9% of the qualification 

Both papers assess the entire syllabus through a mixture of different question styles, including multiple-choice questions, short-answer questions, calculations and extended open-response questions. There is a strong emphasis on being able to apply information to a range of unfamiliar contexts and on using biological knowledge to explain what will happen in novel situations. Some examination questions are more problem solving in style - addressing the need for mathematical skills to complement students’ biology skills. There is no coursework in Biology IGCSE. 

Support is available to students through weekly Biology clinics and additional revision sessions through the Lent and Summer terms. The Edexcel IGCSE textbook is an excellent resource, as are the numerous revision guides and department recommended websites. 

A Level

At A-level, students are taught by two teachers, with lessons involving both theory and practical work. In Year 12, students have 12 periods plus, where possible, an additional ‘Maths for Biologists’ lesson, and in Year 13, all students have 13 periods. Students follow the Edexcel Biology B course, which is composed of ten units of study:

  • Topic 1: Biological Molecules
  • Topic 2: Cells, Viruses and Reproduction of Living Things
  • Topic 3: Classification and Biodiversity
  • Topic 4: Exchange and Transport
  • Topic 5: Energy for Biological Processes
  • Topic 6: Microbiology and Pathogens
  • Topic 7: Modern Genetics
  • Topic 8: Origins of Genetic Variation
  • Topic 9: Control Systems
  • Topic 10: Ecosystems

Assessment 

A Level Biology is assessed at the end of Year 13 through three externally-assessed papers:  

Biology Paper 1: 1 hour and 45 minute paper, weighted at 30% of the qualification 

Biology Paper 2: 1 hour and 45 minute paper, weighted at 30% of the qualification 

Both Papers 1 and 2 may include multiple-choice, short open, open-response, calculations and extended writing questions.

Biology Paper 3: 2 hour and 30 minute paper, weighted at 40% of the qualification 

Paper 3 will include synoptic questions that may draw on two or more different topics and questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental methods.

The huge diversity of topics on the course provides an opportunity for pupils to extend their interest in any number of areas. Many of our candidates have a particular passion for the medical life sciences but increasingly, genetics and cell biology are becoming popular areas for further study.

Pupils are also entered for a certificate in practical competence, for which they are required to complete 16 ‘core practicals’. Designed to help students become capable and confident scientists, this separate endorsement is assessed by class teachers and is based on direct observation of students’ competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams.

Co-Curricular

The Biology department runs a gardening club called Horti Soc and a Biology Society, both of which are attended by pupils of all ages. Year 9 and 10 take part in the National Biology Challenge and the Crest Research Award scheme. Sixth formers take part in the National Biology Olympiad, compete for Nuffield Bursaries, Darwin Research Awards and Welcome Trust Research Placements. Pupils of all ages benefit from a wide range of activities during Biology week, National Science Week and the Big Bang @ LGS Science Fair.

The Biology Department also runs a Pre-Med course during weekly Med Soc meetings, designed to equip potential Medics, Vets and Dentists with the knowledge, experience and skills required for a successful application. This includes talks from visiting speakers, MMI interview practice, BMAT and UCAT preparation and role play scenarios.

Trips

Year 8 pupils visit Twycross Zoo as part of their module on habitats and evolution. Year 12 students attend an annual residential field course in Norfolk, where they are introduced to an even wider range of habitats, such as sand dunes, rocky shore and salt marshes, and complete three of the compulsory core practicals. A-Level students are invited to attend the annual A-Level Science Live conference, where they have the opportunity to hear eminent scientists such as Professors Richard Dawkins, Steve Jones and Robert Winston.

Other

We maintain close links with a variety of Universities and staff and pupils are active in a number of local and national scientific societies.