Biology is a rapidly developing science and very much at the heart of the problems and triumphs of modern life. At Queen Anne’s we aim to stimulate curiosity, interest and enjoyment in Biology and promote an awareness of its significance in personal, social and environmental contexts. We strive to provide in-depth knowledge and understanding to enable our students to take an informed interest and formulate informed opinions in matters of scientific importance.
Throughout the school, practical work is an integral part of learning biology and students experience both guided and open-ended practical investigations. During these the students are encouraged to make accurate observations and measurements; record systematically and use experiments to answer questions or investigate hypotheses.
Students participate in key events run by the Royal Society of Biology, with the L5 completing the Biology Challenge, the L6 participating in the Intermediate Biology Olympiad and the U6 taking part in the Biology Olympiad, with students achieving a host of gold, silver and bronze awards and commendations in all events.
Our efforts to foster independent thinking and a thirst for knowledge extend to our student-led clubs. Students have set up an Eco Committee and Climate Change Awareness Group, and the Sixth Form prefects are charged with planning and running stimulating activities for students lower down the school, to fuel their interests within and beyond the curriculum.
L4 students visit Beale Park early in the Michaelmas term to carry out a variety of ecological investigations and to study adaptations. L5 students visit Marwell Zoo near Winchester to cover the adaptations and biodiversity aspects of their GCSE course. L6 students visit Harcourt Arboretum to extend the ecological sampling work that they start in the vast grounds at QAS.
Other opportunities outside the classroom include Dissection Club, where students in Lower School can watch members of the Lower Sixth undertake some unusual dissections not usually seen in the classroom and are also given the opportunity to get some hands-on experience.
We also look to involve our Lower School students in STEM opportunities, challenges and events from key institutions including the Photographic competition from Royal Society of Biology. We have an on-going programme of guest speakers for our Sixth Form that are extended to our Lower School when suitable. Other competitions recently entered are the Nancy Rothwell Award for biological artwork and the Royal Society of Biology's regional essay competition, in which a QAS student came 2nd in 2022.
Study clinics are also offered to support and extend our students.
Lower School Curriculum
To cover the Biology content of the Key Stage 3 Science National Curriculum
To lay the foundation for the GCSE courses, formally started in U4
To develop practical and investigative skills
To encourage the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) skills
To foster a secure environment in which the students can become confident and independent learners
To stretch and challenge our students' understanding, using integrated extension questions and opportunities
Throughout all three years there is a substantial focus on scientific enquiry skills where students are taught about how to collect, record and evaluate data effectively. There are also many opportunities for the use of ICT, including data-logging, research projects, preparing PowerPoint presentations and the use of experimental simulations.
We also look to encourage creative approaches to add another dynamic to our studies and look to utilise students work in many of our displays.
L4 & 4S (Year 7 & 8)
The L4s and 4s follow the AQA KS3 syllabus using the Activate scheme with digital textbook access. Topics covered are:
Drugs, alcohol and smoking
Digestion (including balanced diets)
U4 (Year 9)
Students begin to cover material from the GCSE course. This allows students to build their knowledge of some of the key concepts that are applied throughout the course, for example, cells and transport across membranes, as well as extend their learning with topics such as stem cells.
Middle School Curriculum
Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms. Its name is derived from the Greek words “bios” (life) and “logos” (study). This subject impacts all areas of human existence from the molecular level to whole ecosystems. Biology is the science of life, looking at physical structure, chemical processes, molecular interactions, physiological mechanisms, development, evolution and ecological factors.
The GCSE course has an emphasis on ‘scientific literacy’ as well as scientific content. In addition to studying a body of scientific knowledge, importance is attached to scientific skills and an understanding of how science works in the world at large as well as in the laboratory.
Students are provided with a variety of opportunities to extend their knowledge and understanding, including, for example, participation in the Royal Society of Biology Year 10 Challenge, attendance at organised lectures from eminent scientists and a study day at Marwell Zoo. Students are also provided with resources on the class OneNotes to stretch their lesson-based understanding further and are encouraged to research their own materials independently. The use of digital devices in lessons is encouraged when appropriate, and they can be used to collect and analyse data during experiments.
The topics covered are:
Infection and response
Homeostasis and response
Inheritance, variation and evolution
There are two written papers, each worth 50% of the GCSE. The papers are offered at both Higher tier and Foundation tier, but both papers must be taken at the same tier. We expect that the students will be entered for Higher tier, which assesses grades of 9 to 4.
There is no formally assessed practical coursework. Students have to complete ten compulsory practical activities. Knowledge and understanding of these experiments and general practical work will form at least 15% of the marks in the written papers.
Paper 1 – 1hr 45 minutes - Cell biology; Organisation; Infection and response; and Bioenergetics.
Paper 2 – 1hr 45 minutes - Homeostasis and response; Inheritance, variation and evolution; and Ecology
Sixth Form Curriculum
A Level Biology
Are you intrigued by the inheritance of characteristics and diseases? Do you ever think how the numerous organ systems in the human body are able to work in a coordinated way? Does Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection make you marvel at the plethora of life forms on the Earth? Do you ever wonder about what’s actually going on in your body when you are sick? Do you relish the opportunity to get stuck into a practical investigation? If so, then Biology is the course for you.
Biology is a hugely popular course with many students going on to read Biology-related subjects at university. Within this course there is a big emphasis on developing understanding through practical investigations, whilst simultaneously honing the necessary techniques and skills. The students’ understanding of both the theoretical and practical biology is assessed in the written examination papers at the end of the U6 and there is no coursework at A Level.
Develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of the subject and how they relate to each other
Develop and demonstrate a deep appreciation of the skills, knowledge and understanding of scientific methods
Develop competence and confidence in a variety of practical, mathematical and problem solving skills
Develop an interest in and enthusiasm for the subject, including further study and careers associated with the subject
Understand how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society
Syllabus - OCR H420 – Biology A
We follow the OCR Biology A specification. This course involves six units, which are all examined at the end of the U6.
The content is split into six modules:
Module 1: Development of practical skills in Biology
Module 2: Foundations in Biology
Module 3: Exchange and transport
Module 4: Biodiversity, evolution and disease
Module 5: Communication, homeostasis and energy
Module 6: Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
Modules 2 to 4 are covered in the first year and modules 5 and 6 are covered in the second year. Module 1 is covered throughout the entire two-year course.
Digital resources, such as Kerboodle, A Level digital books and journals are accessible in addition to the class text book and extension work books.
A field study is run at the end of the Trinity term. This gives the students the opportunity to get some hands-on experience of sampling techniques and data collection in ecology. Biodiversity is explored in different habitats and influencing abiotic and biotic factors are considered.
Students are required to keep a record of twelve compulsory experiments which lead to the practical endorsement. The practical endorsement is graded pass/fail and does not contribute to the overall grade. Practical skills and knowledge are formally assessed in the written examinations, which are as follows:
Paper 1 - Biological Processes (37% of final grade)
Paper 2 - Biological Diversity (37% of final grade)