Biology

Biology at Glenalmond is a lot more than being in a lab and looking at life, it’s about getting out and about in the environment we live in, being totally open to all aspects of learning and life and above all, sharing a passion which we all have for this exciting and complex subject.

In the Biology Department we all love science and Biology and that’s exactly how we want our pupils to feel. We are open to all and consider ourselves to be a biological haven of learning nestled in the middle of the Science Block. Want to know how you work as a human? Want to push the way in which you think about the world around you? Then come on in.

The Biology department is located on the first floor of a purpose-built Science Centre which was constructed in 2001. There are three general laboratories capable of teaching classes of 20 pupils, a sixth form laboratory for project work, a departmental Sixth Form library and a foyer. There is a large well equipped preparation room and a full-time technician who works for both the Biology and the Chemistry Departments. Biology is a popular subject in the Sixth Form with about 35 electing to study Biology in their Lower Sixth year.

Curriculum

Second Form

It’s all about getting used to Biology and getting interested in what makes us tick! The pupils follow a course that prepares them for designing experiments, how to write up what they have found out, using basic lab equipment and getting comfortable with the use of the rather large biological dictionary of key terms. Above all this year is about sparking passion and exploring their scientific interests.

Third Form

This is the year that the Edexcel Double Award IGCSE course begins and the pupils will follow the syllabus set out in preparation for their IGCSE examinations at the end of Fifth Form. The pupils will study life processes, cells, how substances move in and out of the cells, enzymes, classification of life, the digestive system and reproduction, and will end with a topic on the environment and ecological study which sees them out and about around the campus.

Fourth Form

The Edexcel Double Award IGCSE course continues with a range of superb opportunities to get stuck in with a rage of dissections….which we love in Biology! The pupils will study gas exchange and the respiratory system whilst looking at diseases that impair this, the circulatory system, blood and its transport systems, co-ordination in humans and the nervous system, homeostasis, excretion and finally nutrition and reproduction in plants. As you can see, this year is all about how organisms function.

Fifth Form

Having covered the majority of the syllabus in Third and Fourth Form this final year of Edexcel Double Award IGCSE is all about tackling the more difficult concepts and also having as much time as possible preparing for the examinations. The pupils will cover DNA, genes, inherited and genetic disorders, selective breeding, cloning, improving farming and fish farming. We are then able to devote a good number of weeks to past paper practice, analysis and feedback before the examinations arrive.

Lower Sixth (AS)

AQA AS Biology

Unit 1 “Biology and disease” which includes: Disease, enzymes, transport across cells, lungs and heart, and immunity; and is 33.3% of the total AS mark (16.7% of total A2 mark)
Unit 2 “The variety of living organisms” which includes: Variation, cell division, classification, adaptation, natural selection and biodiversity; and is 46.7% of thetotal AS mark (23.3% of total A2 mark)
Unit 3 “Investigative Skills Assessment (ISA)”: Practical assessment, which is 20% of the total AS mark (10% of total A2 mark)

Upper Sixth (A2)

AQA A2 Biology

Unit 4 “Populations and environment” which includes: Populations, photosynthesis, respiration, energy transfers, nutrient cycles, genetic variation; and is 16.7% of the total A2 mark

Unit 5 “Control in Cells and in organisms” which includes: Coordination, muscles, homeostasis, genetic control, gene technology; and is 23.3% of the total A2 mark

Unit 6 “Investigative Skills Assessment (ISA)” which is a practical assessment and is 10% of the total A2 mark

Extra Curricular

The Department organises a number of trips and expeditions each year. Over the past few years these have included visits to the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh, The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, The Scottish Crops Research Institute in Dundee, The Forensic Science Laboratories in Dundee, The Science Centre in Glasgow, Tennants Brewery in Glasgow; The Biology Department at Dundee University and The Psychology Department at Abertay University.

As an annual event, the Sixth Form undertake a 4 day residential field course to Cumbria in the Trinity Term after their examinations. Lectures are also organised annually, and recent topics have included 'Natural Disasters'; 'The Importance of Fungi'; 'Human Parasites'; 'Genetic Engineering'; 'Human Identification'; 'Antibiotic Resistance'; 'The Role of a Forensic Scientist'.

We also run Medsoc, which is a group of potential Medics, Vets, Dentists (and indeed anyone with a passion for the subject), who meet regularly to discuss current developments in Medicine and Biology, and also to debate ethical issues and current advancements in Science in general.

Head of Department: Mr Andrew C Hughes

Dr Susan Colby
Mrs Lauren Tosh
Dr Craig Henderson
Mrs Sandi Macdougall

"I have an absolute passion for Biology and Science and sharing that passion with everyone I meet. Teaching was the ideal forum for me to do this and I am resolute in my quest to ensure that every child we teach can access the science and share in the excitement that this changing and expanding subject can offer. Inclusion, transparency and indeed fun is at the heart of who we are at Glenalmond and this is reflected in the way we teach in Biology. The pupils often tell me that I am more excitable than them…it's true! When I get to do what I love on a daily basis who wouldn’t be full of beans?"