Our Biology Department aims to enthuse young people with an appreciation of the living world, and our place within it, through a multitude of experiences.
We teach Biology from Junior 7 and have tailored our lessons around the Curriculum for Excellence and place a strong focus on pupils' engagement in the learning experience.
In S3 and S4 we teach the new National 5 Biology course. This course follows a similar design to the Higher and Advanced Higher courses, including the three units Cell biology, Multicellular organisms and Life on earth. In addition the course requires the development of problem solving skills, practical work and report writing and the completion of an extensive assignment.
Our last cohort of Standard Grade pupils in 2013 did themselves proud achieving a 100% pass rate, with 80% achieving a Credit pass.
We also offer Higher Human Biology to our senior pupils. This is an enjoyable and relevant course, particularly for pupils going on to study biomedical sciences, medicine or veterinary medicine. We present a large number of Higher candidates every year; this year 80% of our candidates achieved a pass at Grades A, B or C.
For S6 pupils, we offer Advanced Higher Biology, which is an introduction to university level biology within the school environment. We have seen incremental uptake over the last couple of years. This year, our seven Advanced Higher candidates achieved phenomenal results in both their exam and investigation. A grade A was achieved by six out of the seven candidates and a grade C was achieved by the seventh candidate. Not surprisingly all seven candidates have moved onto scientific destinations!
In Biology it is crucial that girls pick up good homework and study skills from an early age to guarantee success. Homework and study skills are developed by their science teachers from J7 to S6 - at all stages varied homework tasks and revision will be part of our girls teaching and learning experience.
In S2 Biology the girls complete three topics and specifically designed homework sheets are given to reinforce the theory and to develop problem solving skills. A group research topic and poster presentation activity is also carried out. All three topics are summatively assessed using a knowledge and understanding test paper and a problem solving skills test paper. Parents and pupils can follow their daughters’ progress by looking at the assessment table in their jotter which girls fill in throughout the biology rotation.
In S3 and S4 homework is designed to develop pupils’ knowledge and skills required to pass all the National 5 Biology assessment standards. An array of formative assessment tools are used including homework sheets, textbook questions, creation of word-banks, short research and presentation assignments, practical work and investigations, the writing of outcome 1 scientific reports, class tests, the assignment, prelims and unit assessments. Girls’ progress is tracked by the filling in of an assessment grid in their evidence folder (pupil) and electronically on the shared area (staff).
Higher homework is from the textbook and pupils will be given a week to complete their homework as it should take at least two hours. We move from textbook questions to past paper work when pupils have built a solid foundation of knowledge which can then be used to test their application. Consistent revision is also required and class tests and unit NABS are given at appropriate times. The prelim is an excellent summative tool and highlights pupil strengths and weaknesses and develops the skill of sitting an exam effectively.
The Advanced Higher homework again is regular with at least one homework activity per week - Scholar questions, past paper work, research and presentation of topics to peers are all used throughout the course. The Advanced Higher project is on-going from the start of the course and develops creativity, practical skills, problem solving and scientific report writing. All three units require a NAB to be passed and a prelim is also given to develop exam technique.
As all Biology courses are heavily knowledge based it is imperative that pupils work through all homework tasks with 100% effort so that progress can be tracked by both the pupil and teacher. Homework will also test a pupils’ ability to apply their knowledge and to develop the various problem solving skills.
Timely trips, workshops, lectures, speakers etc. may be used to enhance the teaching and learning of the course.
Mrs Sweeney, Head of Biology
Mrs Sweeney has been at Craigholme for 14 years and thoroughly enjoys teaching S2 to S6 Biology. Life at Craigholme is never dull and other areas she is involved in include: Health & Safety and Assessment & Reporting.
Mrs Sweeney has had many great experiences with Craigholme from visits to Edinburgh Zoo, the wind farm and hydroelectric power station, the Modern Languages trip to the Black Forest and a host of social, cake-eating events! However, her passion remains teaching Biology to the girls.
These are some of our favourite websites for pupils:
For National 5 Biology revision: BBC Bitesize
For Higher Human Biology and Advanced Higher cell biology: Scholar
For all certificated courses: TWIG
Nationals in a Nutshell