Science – Biology

Acting Head of Science Faculty and Physics Department: Mr Boutland-Smith
Head of Biology Department: Mr Dorney
Head of Chemistry Department: Mrs Cherrett
Faculty Staff: Mr Boutland-Smith, Mr Burn, Mrs Kestell, Miss Newton, Miss Shepherd, Mr Thomas, Miss Eastman, Mr Hollis, Miss Shepherd
Support Staff: Ms J Taylor, Miss Morrison, Mr Spooner
Level of teaching: Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4, Key Stage 5

Biology is the study of life. Life occurs in many different forms. At St Gregory’s we encourage students to develop an interest in all these forms and to understand how they fit together as life on Earth. We run regular trips to enable students to gain first-hand experience of species in their natural environments, so that they can develop a passion to conserve life on earth. Our emphasis is about bringing the subject to life by giving students opportunities to learn by carrying out experiments, making observations and then drawing conclusions. These experiences range from using microscopes, investigating the effect of acid rain on cress seedlings, to thin layer chromatography and heart dissections in the sixth form. All students are encouraged to plan fair tests, record precise results, and evaluate what they have done, suggesting improvements for next time.

Key Stage 3 (Years 7-8)

In KS3 Science, we follow the AQA Activate Science Course. This involves learning about the ’10 Big Ideas’ science curriculum over a two year key stage. Each ‘Big Idea’ contains four smaller topics that build in complexity. Details are as follows:

Year 7

Part 1 – Taught in Year 7
Forces: Speed & Gravity
Electromagnets: Voltage and Resistance & Current
Energy: Energy costs & Energy transfer
Waves: Sound & Light
Matter: Particle model & Separating mixtures
Part 1 – Taught in Year 7
Reactions: Metals and non-metals & Acids and alkalis
Earth: Earth structure & Universe
Organisms: Movement & Cells
Ecosystems: Interdependence & Plant reproduction
Genes: Variation & Human reproduction


Year 8

Part 2 – Taught in Year 8
Forces: Contact forces & Pressure
Electromagnets: Electromagnets & Magnetism
Energy: Work & Heating and cooling
Waves: Wave effects & Wave properties
Matter: Periodic table & Elements
Part 2 – Taught in Year 8
Reactions: Chemical energy & Types of reaction
Earth: Climate & Earth resources
Organisms: Breathing & Digestion
Ecosystems: Respiration & Photosynthesis
Genes: Evolution & Inheritance


In KS3 Science, we rotate Biology, Chemistry and Physics topics through the year to complete all the outcomes within the ten big ideas topics. In Biology, there are three big ideas that build in complexity within our spiral curriculum: Organisms, Ecosystems and Genes. Our schemes of work follow the AQA Activate Science course, which provide students with opportunities for regular practical work, and development of their numeracy and literacy skills within Science. The progress of students is tracked regularly with end of unit assessments for each big idea in both Y7 and Y8 and formal end of year exams.

Key Stage 4 (Years 9-11)

Course Code: GCSE Biology AQA 8461
Exam Board Specification:

All students are required to study GCSE Triple Science to gain three separate GCSE qualifications in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

The GCSE Biology topics covered will involve content including Cell biology, Organisation, Infection and Response, Bioenergetics, Homeostasis and Response, Inheritance, Variation and Evolution and Ecology. GCSE Biology gives students the chance to gain a good understanding of:

  • Human biology
  • Organisms
  • Evolution and the environment

The specification integrates the principles of ‘How Science Works’ throughout the units and in the controlled assessment. The course helps put Biology in the context of students’ everyday lives with topics ranging from ‘Infection and response’ to ‘Inheritance, variation and evolution’. The specification is based on a series of topics related to the living world and relevant to students. It is designed to help them understand how Science can be used to explain the world in which they live and the impact humans have. This course provides a firm foundation for progression to A Level Biology.

GCSE Biology is examined by two 1hr 45min exams at the end of the course in Year 11. It also involves a practical endorsement which doesn’t contribute to the overall grade.
All of these exams are available at Foundation or Higher level.

Unit 1: Biology Paper 1 – Written paper 1hr 45mins – 100 marks worth 50%
Unit 2: Biology Paper 2 – Written paper 1hr 45mins – 100 marks worth 50%

Year 9 and Year 10

Students start GCSE Biology in Year 9 and have two lessons per fortnight. In Year 10, students will continue on the GCSE course with four lessons a fortnight on the following topics:

  1. Cell biology
  2. Organisation
  3. Infection and response
  4. Bioenergetics

Year 11

  1. Homeostasis and response
  2. Inheritance, variation and evolution
  3. Ecology
  4. Key ideas

Key Stage 5 (Years 12-13)

Course Code: A Level Biology 7402
Exam Board Specification:

Recommended entry requirements:

  • Grade 6 GCSE Biology or Grade 6-6 GCSE Combined Science
  • Grade 6 GCSE English and Mathematics
  • Students who have studied Combined Science must complete additional preparatory work over the summer holidays.

Why Biology?

With A level Biology, you will gain an insight into the amazing complexities and astonishing truths about life on Earth. From life chemicals to cells, from tissues to organs, from organ systems to organisms this exciting course will develop your detailed knowledge and understanding of living organisms and life processes. There is a mixture of animal and plant biology plus ecology with field work and applications in the modern world such as genetic engineering, the control of gene expression and forensic biology.

During your studies, you will develop your scientific knowledge and skills in data handling, graph work and statistics. Practical work will include microscopic examination of specimens, dissection of organs, field sampling skills and a range of scientific techniques.

Residential Trip

A highlight of Year 12 is our residential trip studying rocky shore ecology.


35% – Paper 1 – Year 12 Content
35% – Paper 2 – Year 13 Content
30% – Paper 3 – Synoptic
Practical endorsement certificate assessed during lessons (pass/fail).

Recommended Reading

Head Start to A Level Biology – CGP
AQA Biology: A Level Student Book – Oxford University Press

Resources and Links:

Past papers and mark schemes can be downloaded from:

The Science Faculty website is now live and contains useful revision PowerPoint’s and web links: (Password: Science1)

Students also have access to the GCSE Science textbooks online using their usernames and passwords for Kerboodle: (Institution Code: ik1)

Students also have access to GCSE Science Resources on Educake and Seneca including revision notes and assessments using their usernames and passwords: