Key Stage 3
The KS3 biology course aims to enthuse students about the subject, introduce them to some of the basic concepts of biology, and teach them some important skills they will need at GCSE and beyond. These skills include practical skills (like how to use a microscope and make biological drawings), numeracy skills (including drawing tables and graphs), literacy skills (like how to extract key information from a passage) and study skills. Topics include cell biology, human systems, microbiology, disease and ecology. In Y8 there is a one-day field trip to Malham Cove, where students can study organisms in the wild.
Key Stage 4
All students at Heckmondwike take three separate science GCSEs. In biology we follow the Edexcel GCSE (9-1) specification. The course includes a comprehensive coverage of modern biology, including biochemistry, cell biology, human physiology, plant biology, genetics, ecology, evolution and biotechnology. The GCSE course also places great weight on working scientifically, which is assessed by questions in the terminal exams. Lessons therefore include interesting and adventurous investigative work, aimed at developing the skills of scientific enquiry and data analysis. We carry out a lot of practical work wherever possible, including some field work. Biology is a quantitative science and 10% of the exam marks will be for maths and data analysis questions.
Assessment is in the form of two exam papers (1hour 45min each) at the end of the GCSE course in Y11. There is no separate practical assessment or coursework element, though some exam questions will test your understanding of practical work you have carried out.
Key Stage 5
A-level biology is one of the most popular A-level choices at Heckmondwike, as it prepares students for a wide variety of further education courses, including medicine-related courses, bioscience courses and other science courses. We use the Edexcel “B” A-level course, which has ten units spread over two years and is examined by three two-hour exams at the end of Y13. A highlight of the A-level Biology course is a two-day residential field trip at the Malham Tarn Field Study Centre in the summer term of year 12, where students can study organisms and their interactions in their natural environment. Please refer to the sixth form prospectus for further details of A-level biology, including the entry requirements.