“Science is beautiful when it makes simple explanations of phenomena or connections between different observations. ”
- Stephen Hawking
Why Study Biology?
Not a day passes without biology being in the news. From cutting edge findings of genetic research, the impacts of climate change and the role of living organisms in renewable energy, to the conservation of endangered species, the role of the environment on our genes in the expanding field of epigenetics, and finding cures for current and emerging diseases. Our biologists will be the creators, consumers, and decision makers of these areas in the future.
In our biology department we have a strong and experienced team of teaching staff, excellent laboratories and countless support, providing pupils with a stimulating environment and every opportunity to fulfil their potential.
Year 9: A Journey of Discovery from Ecosystems to Cellular Life
A year of excitement and freedom in which we nurture and develop our pupils’ natural curiosity in the living world. We carefully select topics to engage our pupils' passion for biology. Starting in Year 9 we will look at understanding the interactions between the living and non-living environment, using the outdoor learning environment of our science garden and pond as a model ecosystem.
Pupils will also visit the Eden Project and undertake a conservation strategy exercise, before embarking on some GCSE material. Pupils are also given the chance to take part in The Royal Society of Biology 'Biology Challenge' in both Years 9 and 10.
Year 10 and 11: GCSE Biology
At GCSE we study the AQA specification. To expand the GCSE experience beyond this specification, we take our Year 11 to ‘Science Live’ in Bristol, which is a day of lectures from keynote speakers who are experts in their field and science-based activities. A structured program of revision and support enables our GCSE pupils to achieve excellent grades in biology with many choosing to study the subject further at A level.
“In our biology department we have a strong and experienced team of teaching staff, excellent laboratories and countless support, providing pupils with a stimulating environment and every opportunity to fulfil their potential.”
Year 12 and 13: A Level Biology
At A level we follow the OCR linear biology course. There are no longer practical exams but more focus on practical skills, which are tested in the terminal papers. This has given the department more opportunity to complete a large number of practicals while sharpening pupils skills and understanding. These include:
- computer modelling;
- data logging;
- gel electrophoresis;
- behavioural studies;
- pupils' own research project;
- residential field trip in Lower Sixth.
In addition, pupils are given the chance to take part in The Royal Society of Biology 'Biology Olympiad’ and there may be opportunities to join a conservation expedition to locations such as Madagascar or Indonesia.
A Level Biology
Dr Stone talks more about course content at A level.
Our Year 12 pupils spend four days, towards the end of the Summer Term, camping on the Isles of Scilly. During the week they carry out fieldwork projects that fulfil many of the practical endorsement requirements and cover the ecology sections of the A level specification.
The pupils also have the opportunity to snorkel with seals and take a boat trip to observe some of the rare and interesting birds that nest in the cliffs around the islands.
Pupils have also benefitted from the following visiting speakers in biology:
- Dr Jason Johnson and Dr Kimura Wozniak from the Bristol School of Biosciences, speaking on cardiovascular disease and current genetic research projects.
- Christopher Lloyd speaking on the 4.6 billion year history of the earth and the 100 most important species, based on his book What on Earth Evolved.
- Professor Bruce Hood on the domesticated brain.
- Clive Brewer on sports physiology.
- Dr Nessa Carey on the roles of junk DNA and the epigenetic revolution.
- Professor Harry Mellor on the importance of size in living organisms.
Fifth Form pupil, Oliva S, has been awarded third prize in the Microbiology in Schools Advisory Committee (MiSAC) annual competition.
MiSAC promotes the teaching of microbiology in schools and colleges. and consists of experts who work voluntarily as representatives of the wide range of educational and scientific organisations that sponsor its activities. The organisation develops and publishes new ideas for the educational use of microorganisms, including practical activities, answers queries, gives talks, contributes to training courses, interacts with examination boards, science suppliers, publishers and industry, and is a recognised authority on the safe use of microorganisms.
The popular annual competition, supported by sponsorship from professional organisations and industry, is closely linked to the National Curriculum. Pupils were invited to design a poster for use on social media, aimed at informing teenagers about vaccinations. The competition attracted over 300 entries, and Olivia's eye-catching and informative poster caught the attention of the judges. Her certificate and prize money are on their way to school.
Last year Fourth Form pupil Ella D was recognised for her MiSAC poster in the same event.
Dr Rebecca Stone
Rebecca joins us from Epsom College where she was a biology teacher and housemistress of a girls' day house. Rebecca is a DofE assessor, coaches netball and leads Operation Wallacea expeditions.
Imogen graduated with a BSc (Honours) in human biology from Plymouth University. She is senior Sixth Form Tutor and is in charge of netball at King's. She has previously been House Assistant in Bishop Fox and Meynell.
Samuel graduated with a BSC (Honours) in biology from Bath University, and joined the department in September 2010. He is the Housemaster of King Alfred house, coaches rugby and cricket and takes the CCF Chindit section.
Before joining King's, Emily completed an epic cycle ride from the UK to Australia as part of a year out from teaching. Previous to this adventure, she graduated from Cambridge with a BA in Natural Sciences and MRes in Biological and Biomedical sciences before spending four years teaching at Monkton Combe School. Emily is a keen sportswoman, who has gained representative honours in hockey, cricket and rowing. She has also led DofE expeditions and lived in a boarding house at Monkton Combe.