Biology
Biology is the study of living organisms and their environments. During the last century our knowledge of Biology has expanded at a staggering rate, and we now take for granted many of the greatest advances in Biology and medicine, which have improved our health and general lifestyle. The biological sciences are the most diverse of subjects – from molecular Biology to the biosphere.

A qualification in Biology equips you with key skills: literacy, numeracy, social awareness, and an ability to make connections between natural, social, economic, political and technological fields.

Biology is a strong and popular subject at Eltham College with many students choosing to follow Biology-related degrees. In the past few years, the department has expanded from two Lower Sixth sets to three sets.

The department aims

  • To provide Biology teaching of the highest quality in an environment that encourages a high quality of learning, good relationships and scientific integrity.

  • To engage, motivate and challenge all pupils and to develop an interest in and enjoyment of the study of living organisms.

  • To encourage the spirit of enquiry and tolerance of others’ views.

The department does this by delivering lessons which maintain a balance between biological theory, demonstration and pupils' experimental work.

Students will go on visits to places such as the Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst Place, Sussex.

An attitude of curiosity and scientific enquiry is encouraged and students will tackle variety and range of work for learning and understanding biological principles.

The Biology Staff

The department currently comprises:

Learning

  • Teaching is based on a good command of the subject, breadth and depth of up to date knowledge and enthusiasm;

  • all Biology teaching staff follow the agreed departmental schemes of work and aspire to the departmental aims and objectives;

  • however, it is recognised that each has his/her own style of teaching resulting from his/her own expertise and experience.

Various learning activities are used in the classroom these include and are not limited to:

Loop games, sequence activities, flow charts, sorting activities, matching pairs, concept mapping, pupil presentations, peer marking , practical procedures, thought experiments, spreadsheet exercise, true/false statements, associations, using ICT for research, animations and video clips.

Students are encouraged to take responsibility for their learning.

All A level Biologists are given plenty of opportunities to practise past papers and lunchtime revision sessions are held on a weekly basis for examination classes in the Lent and Summer Terms. In all other classes, teachers offer pupils individual support as and when it is required.

The Curriculum

A level

Biology TripThe minimum requirement to start a Sixth Form course in Biology is a GCSE grade of B or above in Biology, and ideally a grade B in Chemistry also. A double A grade would be expected from candidates with Dual Award Science.

Biology is a good subject for those interested in Environmental Science or for those intending to take mainly Arts subjects but wishing to include the study of a science at AS or A level. It should be noted, however, that Biology includes a number of biochemistry related topics.

Biology Trip

Topics studied in Biology include cell biology, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, ecology and environmental issues. Students will follow the OCR Specification, in which there is a special emphasis on human biology. Practical lessons involve experiments, investigations and microscopy, but the only organ dissection is of a heart and kidney. There will also be some field work. The practical work, as well as much of the Biology theory, often has a chemical basis and requires mathematical skills, including simple statistical analysis.

Fieldtrips

In the Lower Sixth, students spend a day at Wakehurst Place in Sussex looking at species diversity and the Millennium Seed Bank. In the Upper Sixth students will visit the Wildwood Trust and Botany Bay to look at sand dune succession, rocky shore ecology, conservation practices and prey-predator relationships.

The department has also organised enrichment fieldtrips to Honduras and Indonesia working on conservation projects in the Rainforest and for those who can dive, working with marine ecologists. Non-divers learn how to scuba dive. These trips are with the conservation charity Operation Wallacea. More information can be found at http://www.opwall.com/

Enrichment

The students of the school are members of the Society of Biology and throughout the year attend lectures organised by:

Pupils in the Lower Sixth enter the Biology Olympiad. They also attend the summer science exhibition at the Royal Society. Upper Sixth students attend a study day on DNA and Genetics.

Medical society

This society is for students who are interested in studying a medical related degree. It is run by pupils and weekly meeting are held during which pupils discuss and present various topics such as public and ethical issues of medicine or NHS complaints procedures. Past pupils and outside speakers are invited to speak about their experiences of the medical field. The aim is to give students an insight to medical related degrees and to help with preparation for application and interviews.

Results

In the past three years 87.7% of pupils have gained A* to B grade at A level with 26% gaining an A*. At iGCSE level, 98.4% have gained A*to C grade with 51% gaining A* grade.

Higher Education

Many students have left Eltham College to study Biology related subjects at top universities over the past three years. 18 have gained places to study medicine and three students have gained entry to Oxbridge.

A level Biology is now required for the study of medicine, dentistry and veterinary medicine at university and highly recommended for a wide range of health care professions such as physiotherapy, nursing, radiotherapy, radiography and pharmacy.

Biology is also very relevant to environmental science, agriculture and science-based psychology courses.

Biology Careers

Qualifications in Biology give students the opportunity to enter the expanding fields of Biotechnology, Gene technology and Microbiology which provides the basis for many biochemical engineering processes, including food science and technology. Biology degrees, requiring both numeracy and literacy skills, together with a considerable amount of ICT and project work, have become very attractive to many prospective employers, including the financial sector.