Biology

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Biology is the study of life and living organisms. It is concerned with their structure, behaviour and function, as well as how they grow and reproduce. It also looks at how living things are distributed and how they interact with each other, and their natural environment.

Today’s Biologists are involved in researching and understanding some of the most controversial advances in human knowledge including the cloning of embryos, designer babies and genetic engineering.

By studying Biology young people are encouraged to develop their curiosity about the living world and the courses also provide insight into how Science works. Students will hopefully be inspired, motivated and challenged, enabling them to engage with biology in their everyday lives!

Staff

Mrs Ciara Smyth (HOD)
Mrs Ashley O’Riordan
Mr Mark Gray
Mrs Julie Morrow

Dr Julie McCormick

Recent Achievements

In 2016 Janie Kennedy was placed 1st in Northern Ireland in GCSE Biology.

In 2015 Amy Edwards was placed 1st in Northern Ireland in GCSE Biology.

In 2014 Aya Helmy was placed 1st in Northern Ireland in GCE Biology and was awarded the prestigious Hans Sloane Award for best combined performance in Northern Ireland at A level in Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

In 2013 Sophie Stewart was placed 2nd in Northern Ireland in GCSE Biology.

In the 2013 examinations 25% of VCB students achieved A* grades in GCSE Biology compared to the NI Grammar average of 12%.

In 2012 Aya Helmy was the top student in GCSE Biology, coming first in Northern Ireland.

Aims

To grow and encourage in young people an interest and enjoyment of Biology and apply this to local and global contexts

To develop an understanding of the effects of Biology on society

To develop and apply knowledge and understanding of the nature of science and scientific processes

To give young people the opportunity to develop an academic competence to gain success in external examinations

To develop and apply practical, enquiry and problem solving skills and understanding in laboratory and fieldwork and apply learning independently to new contexts

Key Stage 3

In Year 10 pupils follow a practically based Biology course as a separate subject. The topics studied provide a foundation of knowledge for the GCSE Biology course

GCSE

Students follow the CCEA GCSE specification. Unit 1 is an external written examination taken at the end of Year 11 worth 35% of the overall GCSE.  Unit 2 is an external written examination taken at the end of Year 12 worth 40%, and Unit 3 includes an externally marked practical skills assessment (Booklet A) worth 7.5% and a practical theory external written examination (Booklet B) worth 17.5%.

AS/A2

Students at AS level follow the CCEA syllabus. Biology is one of the most popular subjects in Year 13 with 45-60 pupils. The course has three theory units assessed by external examinations, with a small mark given for practical skills in the classroom. In Year 14 pupils progress to the CCEA A2 course with the same examination breakdown. AS is worth 40% of the overall grade given at A2 level.

Facilities & Resources

Our 4 dedicated Biology laboratories are well equipped and resourced with interactive touch screen whiteboards, microscopes, flexicams and specialist Biology equipment.

Careers

Biology is essential for a diverse range of careers, such as Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Veterinary science, Optometry, Physiotherapy, Biomedical science, Environmental science and a range of professions allied to Medicine.

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