- Stimulate and maintain student interest and enjoyment in biology
- Offer students a broad and balanced curriculum, and where possible to provide opportunities to develop skills and gain an understanding of science concepts through firsthand experience
- Make learning in biology relevant to everyday life and the world of work
- Provide opportunities for students to carry out investigations on their own and in groups to foster team work
- To develop practical skills and techniques that can be employed in a variety of situations as well as those necessary to complete the ISA tests at Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5
- Employ teaching methods and resources which allow students equal access to biology (irrespective of their gender, ethnicity or ability)
- Encourage students to be thoughtful citizens by offering them opportunities to reflect on how scientific and technological developments impinge on the environment, personal health and ethics
- Contribute to the development of the specialist science status of the school.
Key Stage 4
We study GCSE Biology as a separate science. This means we will cover more content than the GCSE combined science courses. The new AQA GCSE Biology provides a perfect preparation for AS and A- level without duplicating or overlapping the content.
The main topics taught over the 3 year course are:
- Cell Biology
- Infection and response
- Homeostasis and response
- Inheritance, variation and evolution
Practical work remains at the heart of biology and there are eight required practical’s that students have to carry out, although the department will cover many more than this.
There are two terminal examination papers. They will both assess knowledge and understanding from the seven different topics.
The new AQA specification will help to nurture a passion for biology and provide the ideal foundation for further study of the biological sciences or medicine.
Preconditions for taking the course
A grade B or above in GCSE Biology and a grade B or above in Mathematics are needed or at least a grade A in the Additional science Biology component if you have not taken separate sciences.
Overall, at least 10% of the marks in assessments will require the use of mathematical skills. These skills will be applied in biological contexts and will be at least the standard of higher tier GCSE mathematics.
You are strongly advised to take another science or mathematics with your AS biology course. Students who choose arts based subjects and biology alone will struggle at this level.
Students will sit all of their external examinations at the end of the A- level course at the end of Year 13.
The core content topics are:
- Biological molecules
- Organisms exchange substances with their environment
- Genetic information, variation and relationships between organisms
- Energy transfer in and between organisms
- Organisms respond to changes in the environment
- Genetics, populations, evolution and ecosystems
- The control of gene expression
The Chemistry Department is dedicated to engendering in its students a sense of excitement in the face of the complex wonder of the nature of matter.
The Department seeks to give deeper understanding through scientific enquiry as exciting and absorbing as those who work in the Department sincerely believe it to be. Equally, the Department is determined that each student should achieve his or her full academic potential, not least in terms of examination success at all levels, and we aim to give personal encouragement and support unstintingly to all students.
We employ a variety of teaching methods, with the aim of stretching and challenging all students and there is a strong emphasis on practical chemistry and putting chemistry into context.
Key Stage 4
Students have three years in which to study the AQA GCSE Chemistry specification. This allows for solid grounding in the more difficult concepts and opportunities to study some areas more deeply or widely as dictated by student’s interests.
In the sixth form, AQA AS and A2 modular courses are offered, running in parallel: (i) Physical/ Theoretical Chemistry; (ii) Organic/ Inorganic Chemistry. Practical Examinations taken at the end of the lower and upper sixth years make up 12.5% of the total marks.
These courses of study promote the acquisition of deep and detailed scientific knowledge and insight. Further, students learn an advanced degree of refinement in the practice of analytical techniques, both instrumental and experimental.
The Aim of the Physics Department is two-fold. Firstly and most importantly to develop appreciation and understanding of the physical principles which both underpin and power the physical universe, from the most minute particles to the largest things which exist. Secondly to prepare students effectively to apply this understanding to achieve exam results at the highest grades. A range of teaching methods is employed, from the traditional to the innovative, all designed to introduce the key concepts of physics, and develop a critical and rigorously analytical approach to the study of the physical world.
Key Stage 4
At Key Stage students study the topics introduced in Key Stage 3 in greater depth, and are introduced to radioactivity, and atomic and nuclear structure and stability. These studies follow, and lead towards, the AQA Physics GCSE which is part of the ‘trilogy’ suite of science GCSEs. At this Stage, students begin to perceive the links between seemingly disparate phenomena. In practical work, they develop their ability to investigate, scientifically, a quantitative relationship between variables by completion of a range of experiments and investigations, including a series of compulsory activities set down by the examination board.
In the Sixth Form, in following the AQA Physics Syllabus, students study the full range of the physical processes and effects addressed by physicists and the sometimes complex theoretical constructs used to understand them.
This course is characterised by an increase in the use of mathematical methods to gain a full understanding of the topics already familiar from Key Stages 3 and 4, and in addition students are introduced to fundamental particle physics, relativity, and quantum mechanics. These last two topics form the basis of the optional section of the final module of A level entitled ‘Turning Points in Physics’
Practical skills are developed by regular experiments which serve to underline and illuminate the theoretical side and, equally importantly, develop the investigative skills expected at this level. These skills are assessed by the teacher according to strict criteria laid down by the examination boards and in questions appearing in the final examinations.
The skills and qualities developed in successfully completing this demanding A level course are highly valued by employers and admissions tutors in a wide range of disciplines seeming unrelated to Physical sciences. In addition our Physics Department has a proven record of stretching and developing the most able students, and has prepared a large number of them for study of physics, engineering and related disciplines at prestigious universities.
Combined Science: Trilogy
During this course you will be studying all three aspects of Science – Biology, Chemistry and Physics.
At the end of the course in May / June of year 11, you will sit six exam papers: two in Biology, two in Chemistry and two in Physics. These will be called B1, B2, C1, C2, P1 and P2. Each exam is 1hr 15 mins and will be marked out of 70. Each exam makes up one sixth of your total mark.
The exams you sit will be either Higher Tier or Foundation Tier.
There is no longer a 25% coursework element. Instead there are 21 required practicals. Questions on these practicals will appear on your final exam.
|The required practicals||Topics|
1 Cell biology
3 Infection and response
5 Homeostasis and response
6 Inheritance, variation and evolution
8 Key ideas
Rates of reaction
9 Atomic structure and the periodic table
10 Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter
11 Quantitative chemistry
12 Chemical changes
13 Energy changes
14 The rate and extent of chemical change
15 Organic chemistry
16 Chemical analysis
17 Chemistry of the atmosphere
18 Using resources
19 Key ideas
Specific heat capacity
Force and extension
Radiation and absorption
22 Particle model of matter
There are many opportunities for students to attend lectures on topics from Naotechnology to Quantum Physics and Space Science and visit University departments. We also have a number of students taking part in the University of Liverpool Nuclear Physics Masterclasses.
Students often help out at open evenings and Science students at Holy Family are invited to participate in an international Science study tour to a major European city once a year. To date we have visited The Large Hadron Collider in Geneva and have visited Universities to undertake lab work in Berlin and Brussels. In 2017 we will be visiting Barcelona.
To help GCSE students, here are a few online revision resources:
A useful revision aid with videos on a variety of science topics. Search for videos by topic and level.
Choose an activity, revise it, test it and remember it! S-cool includes overviews, exam style questions, multiple choice questions and revision summaries on a range of GCSE science topics.
A classic revision aid with subject overviews, interactive activities and questions on a variety of topics from different syllabi.
With over 3,100 videos on everything from arithmetic to physics, GCSE students should be able to find videos on the topics they need.
Check out the Planet Science YouTube playlists for inspiration.
Designed to help students studying AQA Core Science, Additional Science, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. Each video is accompanied by revision notes and more videos are added every week.
Exam tips, revision notes and links to past papers
GCSE revision questions and quizzes
Exam board pages for Core (4405) and Additional Science (4408) and also Biology (4401), Chemistry (4402) and Physics (4403) with links to syllabus and past papers
Online homework website