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Why study Biology?

Perhaps the question should be who would not want to study Biology as it is the study of ourselves and how we interact with and have an impact upon the world around us.  A greater knowledge of Biology enables a better understanding of many of the news stories, documentaries and even soaps that form part of our everyday lives.  From the stunning David Attenborough films to following the forensic evidence in detective dramas, from being able to impress your family by answering questions in University Challenge or to understanding the science behind a storyline involving genetic disorders and saviour siblings in Emmerdale, an interest in Biology underpins them all.  

KS4: GCSE Biology (AQA)

At Woodford we follow a three year course from years 9-11, with the expectation that students will take a GCSE in Biology at the end of the 3 years.  The course covers causes of disease, how the human body, plants and micro-organisms work, genetics, DNA and the environment.

There is no coursework or practical exam in the GCSE, but students are given the opportunity to conduct, plan and analyse many practical investigations throughout the three years to help enrich their learning and to develop the skills required for A-Level Biology.

Years 10 and 11 are set according to broad abilities allowing for different paces and approaches so that all students are engaged, motivated and challenged.  We are fortunate in having highly qualified Biology specialists teaching all classes making Biology a very popular subject. In all groups, there is a noticeable enthusiasm and both the pupils and teachers have very high expectations. Extension materials are provided for students on the school’s Managed Learning Environment.

KS5: A Level Biology (AQA)

A level Biology is an extremely popular subject with an excellent examination record. Many students take the subject as part of the traditional maths and science pathway but a number study Biology alongside Humanities and Arts subjects.

During lessons, students carry out practical exercises, discuss biological concepts and experience a range of learning activities. (NB - dissection is not required although most pupils find it fascinating). Our extensive grounds provide opportunities for field work as does our proximity to Epping Forest. Girls are expected to study independently to prepare for lessons and complete homework tasks. There are 12 required practicals that students must complete throughout the two years, which is evidenced in lab books.  This will help to develop a range of practical skills and competencies to prepare them for a range of scientific degrees and qualifications.  There are additional practicals that will also be conducted to enhance students’ enjoyment and understanding of concepts.

Enrichment Activities

Students are encouraged to attend lectures to extend their biological knowledge beyond the specification. 

For example in Year 10 students visit Colchester Zoo to research the conservation of endangered species. Furthermore Year 10 students have the opportunity to attend the GCSE- Science in Action trips to see Biology in the real world.

Every year Year 12 students attend the Epping Forest Field Study Centre to undertake ecological sampling. Moreover Year 12 students attend the Body Worlds exhibition in London, and some students undertake a summer school in natural sciences at Imperial College. We have recently partnered with Hertfordshire University STEM department to introduce AMGEN biotechnology practicals into Year 13 classes. Students have obtained useful university laboratory skills in the process. KS5 students also develop their own biology magazine and have the opportunity to participate in the RSC Biology Olympiad each year.

Future Pathways

Studying Biology will develop your numeracy, literacy and problem solving skills which are desirable for either scientific or humanities degree courses. Previous students have gone on to study a very wide range of different courses including Law, Medicine, Pharmacy and Nutrition.

Recommended Reading

Recommended reading is contained within the Word document attached below.

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