I would like to welcome you to the Biology Department. We are a large and friendly department of teachers who enjoy their subject, but especially love teaching it! As Head of Department it is supposed to be my job to "run the show", but I certainly could not do it if I did not have such a fantastic team.
Mrs Claerwen Patterson
Some of our Sixth Form students created a twice-termly Newsletter filled with information about studying science for students in all years: Science Newsletter 1
Mrs Claerwen Patterson - Head of Biology
Mrs Patterson joined the school in 2008 from Hazelwood School and became Head of Department in 2010. She has degrees in Biological Sciences & Theology from Oxford University and heads up ‘Explore’, the Christian Union at St Catherine’s. She enjoys all aspects of Biology with particular interests in Entomology, Physiology and Genetics. Outside school she keeps busy by spending time with her 3 children, and enjoys dabbling in Geology and Art, singing, baking cakes and jewellery making.
Mrs Gemma Clapham
Joined the Biology department in September 2014, having previously taught for 9 years at an independent girls' school in London. She has a degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Reading and completed her PGCE in 2004. Having previously had Senior Management responsibilities, she is thoroughly enjoying being back in the classroom and teaching biology. She has particular interests in Zoology, Physiology and Ecology. Outside school she spends most of her time running around after her two small children and, when she has the chance, enjoys cooking and spending holidays in France and on the West Coast of Scotland.
Mr Rico Canales-Navarrete
Mr Canales-Navarrete joined the school at the end of 2017. Previously at Merchant Taylors’ School, he has been teaching for over 15 years in the UK. Rico hails from Canada and has degrees in Biology and Education from the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He has developed a particular interest in Genetics. Outside school, Rico enjoys travelling with his family and running after Scout, his French Bulldog.
Mr Thomas Featherstone
Mr Thomas Featherstone joined the school at the start of 2019, on his completely of the TeachFirst Leadership Development Programme (PGCE - University of Manchester). Thomas was born and raised in Liverpool and studied Natural Sciences at University College London (UCL). Thomas has a particular interest in human physiology, especially how this relates to athletic performance. Outside school, Thomas is both a ranked Brazilian Jujitsu competitor and an amateur boxer.
Mr James Hyder
Mr Hyder joined the Biology department September 2021, having previously taught at King Edward VI School, Southampton. He has a degree in Zoology from Durham University and has particular interests in Animal Anatomy, Physiology and Behaviour as well as Ecology and Conservation. When not teaching James spends his time playing or watching sport as well as appreciating the wildlife around us roaming the countryside with his Cocker Spaniel Tammie.
Mrs Parvinder Dhandjal
Parvin joined the School in November 2017 having previously had a career as a Biology Technician at Tormead School, as well as running her own business (Cranleigh Post Office) with her husband for 22 Years. She enjoys doing gym, knitting, sewing, travelling, charity work and walking her dog, Rupert.
Examination Board: CIE (Cambridge International Examinations)
Why study Biology?
“Overpopulation, the destruction of the environment, and the malaise of the inner cities cannot be solved by technological advances, nor by literature or history, but by measures that are based on an understanding of the biological roots of these problems”. Ernst Mayer - This is Biology: The science of the living world.
Biology not only unlocks some of the mysteries of living things but also inspires young people to want to know more about themselves.
AS Level: We explore the ultrastructure of cells and the importance of the biological molecules which make up the cell components and enable them to carry out their functions. We also discover the vital roles of DNA, RNA and enzymes. Transport systems in plants and animals are investigated and you will be able to apply this knowledge to gain an in-depth understanding of how the heart beats, the role of haemoglobin in the blood and how sucrose is transported around a plant. You will learn about the role of antibodies as they assist our immune systems and explore the world-wide importance of diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS.
A Level: We explore biodiversity, classification and the importance of species conservation. This is complemented by studying the important role that genes play in our lives, which leads naturally on to evolution and natural selection. We delve into the intricacies of respiration and photosynthesis, which will unlock many of life’s mysteries. We also study homeostatic mechanisms including the structure and function of the kidneys and the role of nerves and hormones. We then get to grips with cellular control, biotechnology and the fascinating world of plant responses.
All students are examined at AS which contributes 50% of the total marks for the A Level.
- AS Level: 1 x 1 hour multiple choice paper, 1 x 1 hour 15 mins structured question paper, 1 x 2 hours practical skills paper
- A Level: (In addition to AS Level) 1 x 2 hours structured question paper, 1 x 1 hour 15 mins planning analysis and evaluation paper
We begin the IGCSE syllabus in the Upper 4. Topics studied are:
- Characteristics of Living Things
- Cell Structure
- Cell Specialisation
- Levels of Organisation
- Variety of Living Organisms
- Movement of Substances in and out of Cells
- Human Nutrition
- The Structure and Function of Enzymes
- Structure and Function of the Alimentary Canal
- Organisms and the Environment
There is a strong emphasis on practical work and experimental design which encourages the girls to think carefully and critically, and to evaluate their work.
At the start of Lower 5 girls begin either Dual Award Science or Biology as a Separate Science along with Physics and Chemistry. The Biology content is broadly similar in both Dual Award and Separate Biology; however, there is deeper content in the Separate Syllabus and more time for practical work.
Topics studied are:
- Plant Gas Exchange, Nutrition and Photosynthesis
- Human Respiratory System
- Human Circulatory System
- Plant and Human Excretion and Homeostasis
- Nervous and Hormonal Co-ordination in Humans
- Transpiration in Plants
- Plant Tropisms
- Ecology and the Environment
The Upper 5 year completes the syllabus with the following topic areas:
- Reproduction and Inheritance
- Ecology and the Environment
- Use of Biological Resources
In U3 (yr 7) we concentrate on exciting and enthusing the girls, whilst ensuring they have a sound foundation to build on.
We cover the following topics:
|Cells||Animal and plant cell structure
The microscope and how to use it
Surface Area/Volume ratio
|Classification and Food||The classification system
Making and using keys
Food groups and food tests
|Ecology||Feeding relationships and energy flow
Man’s impact on the ecosystem
In L4 (yr 8) we start to introduce more difficult concepts, which require the girls to link topics together and visualise more abstract ideas. They start to do more traditional practical work, including planning experiments, analysing data and evaluation their procedures.
In addition they spend time creating a 'healthy heart' project, which can be using any presentation technique they wish from a poster to creating their own DVD!
The topics that are covered in L4 are:
- Sexual reproduction in humans
- Variation and inheritance
- Food, nutrition & digestion in plants and animals.
- Skeleton, muscles, movement
Middle School Science Club
Middle School Science Club is a well-attended after-school club that focuses on scientific experiments and investigations not covered directly in the national curriculum. Experiments include: dissection of owl pellets, balloon rockets, “The Great Egg Escape”, turning wine into water (literally), kiwi Fruit DNA extraction, and Forensics.
Biology Reading List and notes on reading for interviews
- Aim to read at least one or two of the books from the area of Biology which you are particularly interested. Some of them are written in discrete chapters eg Stephen J Gould so it is possible to dip in and out of them.
- Some of these are classics and some are more recent - check the date of publication inside the front cover so that you are aware how current the ideas are that you are reading about.
- Copies of these books should be in the school library or easily available in paperback from your local bookshop.
- Make a brief note of the main ideas covered in the book so that you can easily review them at a later date e.g. for interviews
- Also read relevant articles in New Scientist and Scientific American and keep up to date with current developments in Science in the newspapers especially two months prior to interview as this type of information is often raised in interviews as the basis of some questions and you are assumed to be enthusiastic and interested in the subject that you have applied for -thus should possess relevant recent knowledge where possible.
- If you are a medic, make sure that you know all about the NHS, current developments, politics, how it is funded etc.
The following books are suggestions only. Any other books that you find for yourself will be equally useful. The important thing is that you READ something and acquire some knowledge other than the syllabus.
Molecular Biology (Modern Genetics) and Evolution
Some of these books are mostly genetics. Some are mostly evolution. Most of them contain a mix ask anyone in the Biology Dept for advice.
- The Double Helix - James Watson
- DNA: The secret of life - James Watson
- The Selfish Gene - Richard Dawkins
- The Extended Phenotype - Richard Dawkins
- The Blind Watchmaker - Richard Dawkins
- River Out of Eden - Richard Dawkins
- Unweaving the Rainbow - Richard Dawkins
- Why we do it (Rethinking sex and The Selfish Gene) - Niles Eldredge (read this and get updated on the Selfish Gene)
- The Language of Genes - Steve Jones
- In the Blood - Steve Jones
- Almost like a whale - Steve Jones
- Genetic Destinies - Peter Little
- Genome - Matt Ridley
- Evolution - Matt Ridley
- The Red Queen - Matt Ridley
- Adam's Curse - Brian Sykes
- Seven Daughters of Eve - Brian Sykes
- Clones: Human Cloning - Martha Nussbaum and Cass Sunstein
- The X in Sex - David Bainbridge
- Origin of Species - Charles Darwin
- Trilobite - Richard Fortey
- Darwin’s Dangerous Idea - Daniel C. Dennett (NB philosophical approach)
- The Panda’s Thumb - Stephen J. Gould
- Bully for Brontosaurus - Stephen J. Gould
- Wonderful Life - Stephen J. Gould
- Rock of Ages - Stephen J. Gould (Religion and Science)
- The Lying Stones of Marrakech - Stephen J. Gould
- Reinventing Darwin - Niles Eldredge
- The Dinosaur Hunters - Deborah Cadbury (Historical approach)
- Other minds - Peter Godfrey-SmitH
- the life-changing science of designer babies - Paul Knoepfler
- A crack in creation: the new power to control evolution - Jennifer Doudna and Samuel Sternberg
Medicine : Disease and Microbiology.
- The Greatest Benefit to Mankind - Roy Porter (History of medicine)
- Microbes and Man - J. Postgate
- Power Unseen- how microbes rule the world - Bernard Dixon
- Plague’s Progress - Arno Karlen
- Biography of a Germ - Arno Karlen
- Plagues - Christopher Wills
- Medicine- an illustrated history - Roy Porter
- The Antibiotic Paradox - Stuart B. Levy
- Hepatitis B - the hunt for a killer virus - B. S. Blumberg (Nobel Laureate)
- Catching Cold - Pete Davies
- Immunology - Roitt, Brostoff and Male(Difficult
- The White Death- a history of TB - Thomas Dormandy(out of print)
- The Miraculous Fever Tree- quinine and malaria - Fiametta Rocco
- How to win a Nobel Prize- cancer genes and infectious diseases - J. Michael Bishop
- Pain: the gift nobody wants - Paul W. Brand, Philip Yancey
- This is going to hurt - Adam Kay
- The emperor of all maladies: a biography of cancer - Siddhartha Mukherjee
Physiology (How the body works)
- Life at the Extremes - Science of Survival - Frances Ashcroft (Very.good)
- Why we sleep - Matthew Walker (Excellent and valuable for everyone to read)
Neurology(study of brains and nervous systems) and Psychology
- Mindwaves, Journey to the Centres of the Mind - Susan Greenfield (Neurology)
- The Private Life of the Brain - Susan Greenfield (Neurology)
- The Human Brain: A Guided Tour - Susan Greenfield (Neurology)
- The man who mistook his wife for a hat - Oliver Sacks (Psychology)
- King Solomon's Ring - Karl Lorenz (Animal behaviour)
- On Aggression - Karl Lorenz (Animal behaviour)
- The Making of Memory - Steven Rose
- Phantoms in the brain: probing the mysteries of the human mind - V.S. Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee
Topical issues (such as global warming AND CONSERVATION)
- Coral: A pessimist in Paradise - Steve Jones
- Wilding - Isabella Tree
- Finding the mother tree - Suzanne Simard
- Entangle Life - Merlin Sheldrake
- The secret world of farm animals - Jeffrey Masson
- Molecules at an exhibition - John Emsley
ANTHROPOLOGY AND HUMAN SCIENCE
- The origin of humankind - Richard Leakey
- The making of mankind - Richard Leakey
- Human Ancestors - Richard Leakey
- The sixth extinction - Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin
- Origins - Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin
- In the Blood - Steve Jones (genetic basis of races)
See also relevant parts of other genetics books
- IGCSE Biology revision - www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/biology
- DNA Interactive - www.dnai.org
- Society of Biology - www.societyofbiology.org
- How Stuff Works - www.howstuffworks.com
- Scientific American - www.scientificamerican.com
- WWF - www.wwf.org.uk
- Inner Body - www.innerbody.com
- National Geographic - www.nationalgeographic.com
- Natural History Museum - www.nhm.ac.uk