Curriculum – Biology

Curriculum – Biology

Biology

The Curriculum

Curriculum Intent

Biology in Southend High School for Girls is woven into all aspects of their school life. Our goal is to inspire our students to not only tangibly live and breathe biology, but also to incorporate this into their metaphysical psyche. We wish to engender a desire to critically view all facets of the natural world, from the loss of biodiversity in the World’s jungles to the intricate workings of the human biome. Our intent is for our students to apply this knowledge to carve their own niche in an ever changing, competitive world, so they are at the forefront of these changes if not leaps and bounds ahead of it. Biology will have taken them from clinging, metaphorically, to the mast of apprehension, to standing in the crow’s nest of understanding, looking towards a bright and new horizon. ​

In the Biology Department, we embed an ethos that enables humanity to improve their lives and to understand the world around them in an individual and collaborative basis. Students should be enlightened to understand how, through the ideas of biology, the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world functions.

In Key Stage 3, we embark on an intrepid adventure to incrementally build on the prior building blocks of knowledge to understand the interrelationships connecting the micro to the biosphere.

As experienced Biologists embarking on Key Stage 4, students will utilise and refine their prior knowledge and skills within a spiralling curriculum whilst having the confidence to tackle novel concepts.

If students desire to pursue biology at A Level, we will continue to build on their secure foundation embedded within the previous key stages. They will have an opportunity to expand their vision by learning new biological processes such as the study of epigenetics, hereditary and advanced immunity.

We intend our students to leave SHSG with the ongoing thirst and enthusiasm that we have for our subject.

What does it feel like to be a student in the Biology Department?

According to a Year 9 pupil, studying biology at SHSG helps you “apply concepts that are learnt to better understand things in everyday life.”.

In lessons, you will be challenged to understand the micro, and this will put you in good stead to understand the macro. You will build on the theoretical concepts that you are learning in lessons through required and formative practicals. You will have support in the form of mentor-ship and open houses to help you achieve your potential.

At the end of lower school, your journey at SHSG would have taken you to looking at cells and understanding how they specialise to form organs. You will also appreciate the variety of life and the role of reproduction and interdependence in life.

At the end of GCSE, you will continue to build on the strong nucleus of information from lower school science. You will delve into the cell and begin to understand complex topics including Homeostasis and Protein Synthesis. You will also begin to use subject specific language and consider some ethical questions on the use of gene technology.

At the end of A Level, you will have understood the complexities of cellular processes such as Respiration and Photosynthesis; and have a deeper appreciation of the tireless and inspiring work of the scientists who traversed the narrow and difficult path of discovery before us.

In addition to the course, you will be challenged to participate in the Biology Challenge at lower and middle schools. The Biology Challenge stimulates curiosity for the natural world and encourages students to take an interest in biology outside of school. At A Level, you will be challenged to participate in the Biology Olympiad. This is an advanced problem-solving competition for A Level students and an entry point for the International Biology Olympiad.

Our students have entered universities and become professionals in medicine, dentistry, veterinary science, laboratory science and education.

Journey

Biology Curriculum

At Southend High School for Girls we teach a curriculum that is ambitious and takes students on a learning journey beyond the National Curriculum for biology. The SHSG biology curriculum is what we believe will expose and challenge students to a cultural capital in biology that is the best that has been thought and said in this subject.

Our subject curriculum is carefully organised to take our students from their end of primary school point to the higher outcomes at the end of Year 9.

The biology curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Year 7 – 9

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from Year 6 biology ready to study in Year 7 if applicable
During their Upper KS2 studies as per the National Curriculum, students should have studied topics including ecosystems, organ systems, evolution and inheritance. All of this knowledge is revisited and drawn upon at KS3

Adjustments from the pandemic for Years 7 – 9 if applicable?

  • Access to KS3 Kerboodle online textbook and resources
  • Access to KS3 Exampro to provide support questions
  • Introduction of diagnostic tests to access prior knowledge
  • A greater focus on practical skills, to catch up with what was disrupted by the Pandemic
  • New introduction to Science and Biology topic, to highlight equipment and safety in the lab
  • In Year 9 last year some theory from Year 10 content was taught in order to allow for more time to focus on practical skills when the students started in Year 10.

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the ambitions of the National Curriculum, and as a grammar school, also challenge students beyond the National Curriculum. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our biology intent. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 7

Term 1

Topics

  • Introduction to Science: Introduction to Biology
  • Organisms: Cells, Musculoskeletal system, Drugs 

Assessment

  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • Self-marked cumulative assessment

Term 2

Topics

  • Genes: Variation, Reproduction 

Assessment

  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • Teacher-marked cumulative assessment

Term 3

Topics

  • Ecosystems: Plants and Food Webs

Assessment

  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • PUP Exam

Year 8

Term 1

Topics

  • Organisms: Digestive System and Respiratory System 

Assessment

  • Self-marked cumulative assessment

Term 2

Topics

  • Ecosystems: Photosynthesis and Respiration 

Assessment

  • PUP Exam

Term 3

Topics

  • Genes: Natural Selection and Inheritance 

Assessment

  • Teacher-marker cumulative assessment

Year 9

Term 1

Topics

  • Cell structure
  • Transport in cells
  • Stem cells

Assessment

  • PUP Exam
  • End of topic tests

Term 2

Topics

  • Digestive system
  • Enzymes 

Assessment

  • Self-marked cumulative assessment
  • End of topic tests

Term 3

Topics

  • Heart and Blood vessel
  • Plant tissues and transport

Assessment

  • Teacher-marker cumulative assessment
  • End of topic tests

Achieving mastery in Biology – knowing and remembering even more than what is expected in a grammar school Year 7 curriculum

Our assessment practice at SHSG reflects on how successful students have been in knowing, remembering and doing more through the above topics. They are either emerging, developing or proficient in this journey throughout Year 7.

To go beyond being proficient in what is expected of a Biology student in Year 7 and achieve mastery in Biology, students should read widely, engage in watching Ted Talks and recommended research, and learn key language and subject specific terminology.

Students should relish the challenging nature of Biology and not be afraid of making mistakes, as will students recognise that making mistakes is an opportunity for learning. Good mistakes are therefore celebrated.

To achieve mastery students will regularly revisit prior learning so that knowledge can be built upon ensuring that knowledge is embedded in long term memory via this spaced repetition.

Recommended reading in Biology for Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • Sciencemag.org
  • Discovermagazine.com
  • Popsci.com
  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
  • Animal Allies: 15 Amazing Women in Wildlife Research
  • Rebel Girls Animal Allies by Rebel Girls
  • The Biology Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
  • Horrible Science series of biology books

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • TED Ed: How the heart actually pumps blood
  • TED Ed: How the COVID-19 vaccines were created so quickly
  • Fuse school
  • Revision monkey

Biology-specific language to master in Lower School (Years 7 – 9)

  • All required technical terminology can be found in the KS3 Glossary on the KS3 padlet

At Southend High School for Girls we teach a curriculum that is ambitious and takes students on a learning journey beyond the National Curriculum for biology. The SHSG biology curriculum is what we believe will expose and challenge students to a cultural capital in biology that is the best that has been thought and said in this subject.

Our subject curriculum is carefully organised to take our students from the end of Key Stage 3 point to achieve higher outcomes at the end of GCSE.

The biology curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from KS3 Biology ready to study in KS4 if applicable

  • KS3 Biology
  • Cell structure
  • Cell specialisation
  • Ecosystems
  • Photosynthesis
  • Respiration
  • Natural Selection

Adjustments from the Pandemic for years 10 – 11 if applicable?

  • Open Houses for pupils on Thursday lunchtimes
  • Mentoring of students that require help / have gaps in their knowledge as identified through the topic tests
  • Revision lessons / recap lessons to be run for classes
  • Practicals have been organised to ensure that missed practicals in Year 9 will be caught up in Year 10 and 11
  • With Year 11 pupils, if practicals cannot be carried out due to time constrains; demos will be carried out instead
  • Access to KS4 Kerboodle online textbook and resources
  • Access to KS4 Exampro to provide support questions
  • Question packs to be printed centrally by the Department to ensure all pupils have equal access to the whole range of questions that can be set

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the ambitions of the National Curriculum, and as a Grammar school, also challenge students beyond the National Curriculum. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our Biology intent. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 10

Term 1

Topics

  • Recap of year 9 content
  • Infection and Response
  • Culturing Microorganisms
  • Photosynthesis
  • Respiration

Assessment

  • Cumulative Assessment
  • Diagnostic topic tests
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 2

Topics

  • The Nervous System
  • Control of temperature
  • Homeostasis

Assessment

  • Cumulative assessment
  • Diagnostic topic tests
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 3

Topic 3

  • Hormones in Humans
  • Hormones in Plants

Assessment

  • PPE
  • Diagnostic Topic tests
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Year 11

Term 1

Topic 1

  • Inheritance
  • Variation and Evolution

Assessment

  • Cumulative assessment
  • PPE
  • Diagnostic Topic tests
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 2

Topic 2

  • Ecology

Assessment

  • PPE 2
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 3

Topic 3

  • Ecology
  • Year 9 recap
  • Year 10 recap

Assessment

  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Achieving mastery in Biology – knowing and remembering even more than what is expected in a grammar school KS4 curriculum

Our assessment practice at SHSG reflects on how successful students have been in knowing, remembering and doing more through the above topics. They are either emerging, developing or proficient in this journey throughout KS4 Biology.

To go beyond being proficient in what is expected of a Biology student in Years 10 – 11 and achieve mastery in Biology, students should read widely, engage in watching Ted Talks and recommended research, and learn key language and subject specific terminology.

  • Students should relish the challenging nature of Biology and not be afraid of making mistakes, as will students recognise that making mistakes is an opportunity for learning. Good mistakes are therefore celebrated.
  • Textbooks (online and as hard copies) are used in lessons to help pupils be challenged beyond the specification and know more.
  • Formative Assessments in lessons (verbal questioning, textbook questions and question packs), topic tests and termly cumulative assessments help pupils see their weaknesses and work on improving themselves.
  • Biology Challenge is an external competition where curiosity for the natural world is stimulated, and students are encouraged to take an interest in biology outside of school.

Recommended reading in Biology for Middle School (Years 10 – 11)

  • New Scientist
  • A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Lower School (Years 10 – 11)

  • Khan Academy
  • Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell (YouTube)

At Southend High School for Girls we teach a curriculum that is ambitious and takes students on a learning journey beyond the National Curriculum for biology. The SHSG biology curriculum is what we believe will expose and challenge students to a cultural capital in biology that is the best that has been thought and said in this subject.

The biology curriculum is planned and delivered using the intellectual framework of the classical education model, the Trivium:

  • Grammar (Knowledge and skills) knowledge, learning by heart, subject terminology, cultural capital
  • Dialectic (Enquiry and exploration) debate, question, challenge, analyse, evaluate
  • Rhetoric (Communication) essays, speeches, performances, presentations

Pre-requisite or helpful knowledge from KS4 Biology ready to study in Year 12 if applicable

  • Cell structure and transport
  • Digestion and Enzymes
  • Immunity
  • Genes and DNA
  • Hormones in Plants
  • Hormones in Humans
  • Photosynthesis
  • Respiration
  • Movement in Plants
  • Nervous System

Adjustments from the Pandemic for years 12 -13 if applicable?

  • Open Houses for pupils on Thursday lunchtimes
  • Mentoring of students that require help / have gaps in their knowledge as identified through the topic tests
  • Revision lessons / recap lessons to be run for classes
  • With Year 13 pupils, timeline has been reorganised to ensure missed required practicals take place.
  • Access to KS5 Kerboodle online textbook and resources
  • Access to KS5 Exampro to provide support questions
  • Question packs to be printed centrally by the Department to ensure all pupils have equal access to the whole range of questions that can be set
  • After concerns were raised about the lack of practice and finesse at answering mathematical based questions; the ‘Maths in Biology’ has been introduced into the course at A-level for Year 12 and 13

The topics below have been chosen as they reflect the ambitions of the National Curriculum, and as a Grammar school, also challenge students beyond the National Curriculum. They have been carefully sequenced in this order to build a student’s learning journey to achieve the aims of our Biology intent. Along the way students are assessed and topics will be revisited in assessments to keep each stage of this learning journey alive.

Year 12

Term 1

Topics

  • Biological Molecules
  • Enzymes
  • Nucleic Acids and DNA replication
  • Mitosis and Cancer
  • Cells
  • Maths in Biology
  • Transport in Cells
  • Digestion and Absorption
  • Gas Exchange in Animals

Assessment

  • Baseline Test
  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 2

Topics

  • DNA and Protein synthesis
  • Genetic diversity
  • Species diversity
  • Biodiversity
  • Gas Exchange in Humans
  • Mass Transport in Animals
  • Mass Transport in Humans

Assessment

  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • Cumulative Self-assessment
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 3

Topics

  • Survival and Response
  • Energy and Ecosystems
  • Populations and Ecosystems
  • Nutrient Cycles

Assessment

  • PPE teacher marked end of year assessment FRAG
  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Year 13

Term 1

Topics

  • Nervous Coordination
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • Skeletal Muscles
  • Respiration
  • Maths in Biology

Assessment

  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 2

Topics

  • Inheritance
  • Speciation
  • Photosynthesis

Assessment

  • PPE1  (teacher marked)
  • Topic-based diagnostic assessments
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Term 3

Topics

  • Homeostasis
  • Gene expression
  • Recombinant DNA technology
  • DNA fingerprinting
  • Essay Practice

Assessment

  • FRAG 
  • Self-assessed formative question packs

Achieving mastery in Biology – knowing and remembering even more than what is expected in a grammar school Year 12 and 13 curriculum

Our assessment practice at SHSG reflects on how successful students have been in knowing, remembering and doing more through the above topics. They are either emerging, developing or proficient in this journey throughout Year 12 and 13.

To go beyond being proficient in what is expected of a biology student in Year 12 and 13 and achieve mastery in Biology, students should read widely, engage in watching Ted Talks and recommended research, and learn key language and subject specific terminology.

  • Students should relish the challenging nature of Biology and not be afraid of making mistakes, as will students recognise that making mistakes is an opportunity for learning. Good mistakes are therefore celebrated.
  • Textbooks (online and as hard copies) are used in lessons to help pupils be challenged beyond the specification and know more.
  • Formative Assessments in lessons (verbal questioning, textbook questions and question packs), topic tests and termly cumulative assessments help pupils see their weaknesses and work on improving themselves.
  • Biology Olympiad is another opportunity to do more with the information provided

Recommended reading in Biology for Upper School (Years 12 – 13)

Popular Science books on Biology

  • Biology The Chemistry of Life (Steven Rose)
  • Language of the Genes (Steve Jones)
  • The Wisdom of the Genes (Wills)
  • Life on the Edge: Quantum Biology (Al-Khalili and MacFadden)
  • The Selfish Gene and The Extended Phenotype (Dawkins)
  • Junk DNA (Carey)
  • Life Ascending (Nick Lane)
  • Great Myths of the Brain (Jarrett)
  • How We Live and Why We Die (Wolpert) Honeybee Democracy (Seeley)
  • Genome by Matt Ridley
  • Survival of the Sickest by Sharon Moalem [on the topic of advantageous diseases/mutations]
  • The Germ by John Waller [on the discovery of microbes and their role in disease]
  • The origin of life by Paul Davies
  • The outer reaches of life by John Postgate [on microbes in extreme environments and how they survive there and have evolved]
  • The Double helix by James D Watson
  • One renegade cell by Robert Weinberg (on the topic of cancer)
  • How We Live and Why We Die: the secret lives of cells by Lewis Wolpert
  • The greatest show on earth by Richard Dawkins (medium difficulty)
  • A short history of nearly everything by Bill Bryson

Popular Science books on Medicine and related topics

  • Blood & Guts by Roy Porter [excellent book on the development of medicine over time]
  • The Doctors’ Plague: Germs, Childbed Fever and the Strange Story of Ignac Semmelweis (Great Discoveries) by Sherwin B. Nuland [book describes a time in medicine when the importance of bacteria in infection was realised]
  • Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery by Richard Hollingham
  • Trust Me, I’m a (Junior) Doctor by Max Pemberton [a humourous and informative book on the first year of a doctor in the NHS after qualifying]
  • Soul Made Flesh: How the Secrets of the Brain Were Uncovered in Seventeenth Century England by Carl Zimmer
  • The Medical Detective: John Snow, Cholera and the Mystery of the Broad Street Pump by Sandra Hempel

Useful websites, TED Talks and research for Upper School (Years 12 – 13)

  • Khan Academy
  • Kurzgesagt – In a Nutshell (YouTube)

Biology-specific language to master in Upper School (Years 12 – 13)