Biology

Head of Department: Richard Williams, BSc
 

Staff

Olivia Firek, BSc
Helen Woolley, BSc
Roger Woodburn, BSc
Alistair Taylor, BSc
Cheryl Loughton, BSc, PhD, MEd
Sian Searson, PhD, BSc
Anthoula Petrovic, BSc
Kay Mendlson – Laboratory Technician

A brief summary of the subject

The word Biology is derived from the Greek words bios, meaning life, and logos, meaning study, and is defined as the science of life and living organisms. An organism is a living entity consisting of one cell eg bacteria, or several cells eg animals, plants and fungi.

Studying Biology can be immensely rewarding and exciting and it teaches us to ask questions, make observations, evaluate evidence and solve problems. Biologists learn how living things work, how they interact with one another, and how they evolve. They may study cells under a microscope, insects in a rainforest, viruses that affect human beings, plants in a greenhouse, or lions in the African grasslands. Their work increases our understanding about the natural world in which we live and helps us address issues of personal well being and worldwide concern, such as environmental depletion, threats to human health, and maintaining viable and abundant food supplies.

Why should pupils study the subject and how does it fit in with the world view?

Scientifically, it has been said, the first half of the 20th century was the era of atomic physics and molecular chemistry whilst the second half belonged to molecular biology. Although debatable, what is certain is that developments in the application of biology, be they the utilisation of the findings of the human genome project, genetic engineering, cloning, multiple bacterial drug resistance, environmental pollution or the biochemical and neurological basis of consciousness, will have major effects on society and individuals. As citizens, we will be expected to make judgements on these developments which, without a sound knowledge of the biological fundamentals, risk being incomplete.

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science."

Charles Darwin

Facilities

The Biology Department contains five teaching laboratories, a Prep Room, a video resource room, a Display Foyer with a collection of live animals and the Science Common Room. Outside the building there are two ponds, one surrounded by paving.

All laboratories have a desktop computer, whiteboard, data projectors and video/DVD, a supply of gas, electricity and water. Two laboratories are fitted with an interactive whiteboard, with more being installed in the future. All laboratories have glassware and basic bench apparatus although other apparatus such as a centrifuge, spirometer, microscopes (Junior and Sixth Form) etc are housed in various laboratories but can easily be moved. There is also a mobile fume cupboard.

What pupils can expect to study

The Department primarily aims to nurture a fascination in understanding living organisms. As an integral part of aiding in the development of independent, scientific thinkers who enjoy the ownership of learning, we strive to support self-reflection and self-assessment. Together with extending their range of laboratory skills, the Department endeavours to advance pupils' abilities to engage in effective scientific communication, not least in dialogue with specialist outside speakers as part of the lecture programme.

All those studying Biology at Haileybury are exposed to a considerable amount of practical work, particularly at Sixth Form level and are all taught by specialist Biology teachers. We aim to foster enjoyment of the subject, a thirst for learning and a genuine interest in Biology which goes beyond the parameters of the curriculum.

Annual and/or recent trips undertaken

At the beginning of the summer term of Year 12 or early in the autumn term of Year 13 (Upper Sixth), pupils attend a residential field course at Woolacombe, North Devon. The course forms an integral part of the syllabus teaching and assessment procedure for A Level and IB pupils and plays a fundamental role in the understanding and “bringing to life” of ecological concepts. Pupils learn a great deal about the diverse flora and fauna of the area, putting much of a key topic into context.

"Ecology taught in the field provides outstanding opportunities for good practice in science teaching and for genuinely investigative, creative and open-ended course work."
David Slingsby, chair of education, training and careers committee of the BES

Co-curricular activities

Throughout the year, a variety of speakers come to talk to Sixth Form pupils on a range of topics linked with their studies. On occasion pupils also attend lectures outside School which are sometimes career-orientated and supplement their biological knowledge, proving useful for interview preparation.

"Studying Biology teaches us to ask questions and make observations."

Chemistry

Physics

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