Biology is the study of living organisms and their interactions with each other and the environment. The subject requires the examination of biological processes at a number of levels. From the reactions of chemicals within living cells to the conservation of endangered species, all these concepts are explored within the biology classroom. Throughout the school, Biology is a diverse and challenging subject. The real world applications and the varied approaches to learning within the classroom mean that the subject is popular across the age ranges at Hurst.
From Shell (Year 9)through to Fifth Form (Year 11), pupils study the Edexcel iGCSE Biology syllabus. The course provides a rigorous grounding in the subject and enables a wide variety of topics to be explored. It aims to provide general scientific literacy and equips pupils to question and engage in debate on the evidence used in decision-making, with substantial content to prepare for Sixth Form study of the Sciences. With no coursework element, students sit two papers at the end of the course. Practical work is at the heart of the subject and the practical skills developed throughout the iGCSE are examined within papers taken at the end of the Fifth Form. Most students complete the Biology iGCSE as part of the triple award Science programme, whereas others will follow the double award programme.
In the Sixth Form, A-level Biology enables students to acquire a systematic body of biological knowledge and an appreciation of its significance. It is a subject that can provide great enjoyment and respect for all living things. This course develops many of the topics students may already have studied and introduces some of the exciting areas of Biology in the contemporary world. For example, students may study the influence that genes have on our development, new biotechnologies, environmental issues and aspects of human health. We follow the OCR A specification and assessment is through three papers taken at the end of the two years of study.
The Biology department is housed within one building alongside Chemistry and Physics. Teaching takes place within well-equipped laboratories and the department has its own prep room and specialist technician.
In addition to classes as part of the iGCSE/Sixth Form courses, the department also holds a number of co-curricular sessions and activities. The Microbiology Club runs within the department and allows Shell (Year 9) and Remove (Year 10) students to practice aseptic plating techniques and explore the world of the very small. Along with other Sciences, students have the opportunity to gain a CREST award in a biological area. The department also holds advanced microscopy and dissection sessions for students in the middle school who are considering studying the subject in the Sixth Form.
The department runs a number of events and talks as part of National Science Week. In 2018 events like an ornithology masterclass and a reptile day were highly enjoyed by students of all ages. A small group of Shell and Remove (Year 10) students are entered into the Biology Challenge and a group of Sixth Form biologists into the Biology Olympiad competitions. All Sixth Form biologists also take part in a residential field course in Somerset to explore ecology and conservation in further detail. The Biology department are running a conservation trip to Madagascar in 2019 with Operation Wallacea, which will include one week of terrestrial conservation and one week of marine conservation.