Biology at Sir Thomas Rich's
“Remember, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, 'Don’t be too timid or squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better'.” - Elizabeth Blackburn
Biology at Sir Thomas Rich’s aims to empower students with the foundations for understanding the living world and to develop a sense of excitement and curiosity about natural phenomena. The curriculum aims to develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of Biology and how they relate to each other as well as the practical skills, competency and confidence to apply this knowledge to unfamiliar situations. Students learn how society makes decisions about scientific issues, for example modern farming techniques, transplants, genetic modification and stem cell research, as well as how Biology contributes to the success of the economy and society, for example medical advances and food security.
The development of practical skills is fundamental to becoming a good Biologist and is an integral part of the curriculum. Practicals help develop students’ problem-solving skills and curiosity through planning, analysing and evaluating. Field work is developed through the Key Stages using the School pond at Key Stage 3, Slimbridge WWT Reserve at Key Stage 4 and Orielton Field Study Centre, Pembroke at A Level. These not only develop ecology techniques but also promote enjoyment and curiosity alongside an understanding of the vulnerability of the natural environment. Experiments and other activities are often carried out in groups in order to encourage collaborative learning. All Biology students experience opportunities to excel; independent learning is promoted and lessons are delivered by enthusiastic and expert teachers, helping students embed and use their knowledge fluently.
- Microbes and disease
- Food and diet
- Plants and photosynthesis
- Students usually visit a zoo to study animal behaviour
- Human Biology up to GCSE level, including:
- Respiration and breathing
- Blood and circulation
The Year 8 curriculum builds on the skills and knowledge learnt in Year 7 and covers a broad range of topics giving a good foundation for the work covered at a higher level. The use of practicals and real-life examples contribute to developing enjoyment and interest in the subject. Topics are based on the National Curriculum but our schemes of work have evolved to challenge students and develop their thirst for learning. Studying animal behaviour at Bristol Zoo fosters the students’ curiosity, encourages cooperation and extends the study beyond that of the curriculum. Year 9 concentrates on Human Biology, with topics being taught up to GCSE level.
- Cell division
- Metabolism and transport in cells
- Plant tissues and organs
- Plant disease
- Health Issues
- Ecology, including fieldwork usually carried out at WWT Slimbridge
- Biodiversity and human interactions with ecosystems
- The nervous system
- Plant hormones
- DNA and inheritance
- Variation and evolution
- Genetic engineering and cloning
Year 10 and 11 cover the AQA Biology specification. Students are challenged through the pace, content and application of knowledge questions. Up to date examples and Biology in the news are used to extend students’ knowledge and maintain interest. As well as the practical work carried out in lessons we enthuse students about ecology by taking the whole year group to Slimbridge WWT Reserve.
- Biological molecules
- Animal and plant transport
- Exchange Systems
- Nucleic acids
- Classification and evolution
- Conservation and sustainability
- Ecosystems and populations
- Nerves and hormones
- Communication and homeostasis
- Plant and animal responses
- Cellular control
- Patterns of inheritance
- Biotechnology and manipulating genomes
Years 12 and 13 are taught using Department-produced workbooks and PowerPoints which are designed to allow students to develop excellent core knowledge and understanding. Students entirely self-assess their work in these books so that they understand that it is for their own development rather than teacher assessment. Regular tests are used to check progress. Years 12 and 13 are also set regular ‘extended study’ homework, for example to read and summarise articles from the Biological Sciences Review Magazine or to research an item of Biology in the news. During the summer between Year 12 and Year 13 all Biology A Level students are expected to read and review a Biology based book that goes beyond the curriculum. Students attend a residential field course in Year 13, allowing them to immerse themselves in ecology and develop an understanding of the complexities of the interrelatedness of environmental factors.
- Veterinary studies
- Animal welfare
- Research scientist
"I enjoyed Biology at Sir Thomas Rich's because the teachers always made the lessons fun and interesting. Also I was given the support I needed to keep my work organised and it really helped me when revising."
Praseed, former student
"I enjoy Biology because of the variety it brings: from the reactions that happen inside cells to the interactions between organisms in ecosystems. Everyone will find something that fascinates them. The range of teaching methods used, including practical work and field studies, ensures that the subject is really brought to life."
Matthew, current student
"Biology is an engaging and exciting subject, covering a wide range of topics from DNA replication to biodiversity. It is universally useful. Biology at Rich's is especially good due to excellent teaching and a wide variety of trips."
Sophie, current student
To develop interest in Biology we would recommend visiting zoos, wildlife parks, botanical gardens, natural history museums and science museums.
- Biology support club on Tuesday lunchtimes.
- Year 8 trip to Bristol Zoo to study animal behaviour.
- Year 10 trip to Slimbridge WWT to develop ecology practical skills.
- Year 12 trip to Oxford Natural History Museum to study evolution and classification.
- Year 13 residential field course developing ecology skills and knowledge.