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The courses studied in Biology from Form 1 through to Advanced Higher in Form 6 provide a framework within which pupils’ understanding of important biological ideas and concepts are progressively developed, and contribute to the general education of pupils through their involvement in the processes of scientific study and investigation.
As pupils mature and develop more sophisticated skills in analytical and critical thinking, the department aims to encourage curiosity and understanding of the variety of life on our planet and the range of environments life colonises and inhabits, as well as pupils’ own place in the living world. The limits of modern biology and questions raised by recent biological advances are considered. These studies enhance pupils’ understanding of the Earth’s resources and the need for responsible global citizenship. The procedures of scientific inquiry and investigation, using practical techniques, are developed along with accurate use of scientific language to help pupils learn successfully, expand their understanding and knowledge of biological principles and to foster attitudes and abilities such as objectivity and an analytical approach to problems.
There are four teachers in the department along with excellent technical support. Accommodation includes four recently refurbished teaching laboratories and a dedicated F6 laboratory for Advanced Higher projects. Each laboratory is well resourced to support experimental and investigative work. Learning and teaching approaches are varied, from individual work through collaborative teamwork in groups, to whole class teaching. While practical activities, experiments and investigations are at the heart of teaching in the department, pupils use a range of materials to support their own learning from paper and pencil to iPads.
The course throughout Forms 1 and 2 provides a broad introduction to biology and uses experiments and practical work to allow each individual to confidently develop investigative skills. Study in Forms 3 and 4 leads to presentation at National 5 level. Form 5 biology prepares for presentation for Higher Biology leading to Advanced Higher Biology in Form 6. The department works collaboratively with colleagues in the Junior School to support learning in biological science including experimental work in laboratories. The department also works closely with the Geography Department to deliver the Higher Environmental Science course in Forms 5 and 6.
Providing support for all pupils to achieve their potential is fundamental to the work of all in the department. This is encouraged by creating an environment where all pupils feel valued and thrive and so are able to make effective contributions in the classroom. The department is proud of all the successes achieved by our pupils at all levels, and over recent years a number of pupils have won the award for top mark in Scotland for Higher Biology and Advanced Higher Biology. Many of our pupils who progress through the department go on to study in a variety of related areas, such as biochemistry, physiology, dentistry, nursing, medicine, veterinary medicine, zoology, ecology and neuroscience.