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Biology is the study of life, from molecular chemicals such as DNA, to the vast ecosystems of our planet. Biology at Downside encourages pupils to keep asking questions and then strive to find and understand the answers. This is achieved through a variety of teaching methods, with investigative skills at the core. Biology is at the forefront of developing whole-school curricular links. Tree Week was used help us reflect on our immediate environment (several hundred trees planted in the grounds by our pupils) as well as the wider benefits of conservation of habitats. This was projected through many of the school faculties. The junior pupils also have the opportunity to link biology to other curricular areas, such as in Bread Week where they experienced the journey from farm to plate as well as linking this to literature and scripture.

We have specialised laboratories for Biology. These reflect the subject, as they contain live fauna and flora specimens as well as other vibrant displays. They are supported by the biology team which offer clinics and targeted support to all pupils.

The juniors follow a broad practical based curriculum covering general biology including Plants, Human Biology, Food & Digestion and Ecology. The Edexcel (9-1) Biology course starts in the third form where students learn about a wider range of biological topics in preparation for their GCSEs. This is also an excellent grounding for those who wish to study Biology at A level.

A-level Biology follows the AQA course which is assessed by three two hour papers and has a non-examination practical competency element. The course also includes a compulsory bespoke residential field trip in Devon which covers various sampling techniques and use of statistics in Biology. Students can also challenge themselves in competitions such as the Biology Olympiad.

Head of Biology

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