February 27th 2024
June 14th 2017
Spotlight on Biology
This week, we speak to Mr D Laber, Head of Biology, about the subject at BHS.
How long have you been teaching Biology here at BHS?
I’ve been here at Blackheath High for seven years and teach Science across every Year group. Initially, I read Medicine at university for two years but the Science part appealed to me more than the job of being a doctor so I switched to a degree in Microbiology. This led onto teaching.
What is covered in Biology?
We cover human biology, plant biology, genetics, reproduction, ecology (the eco system and environment) and biochemistry (although this is done more at A-level). We cover everything from whole organisms to the whole planet. There is something for everyone. I love teaching human biology because of my medical background.
Is Biology a popular choice at A-level?
Yes. Out of the three Sciences, I would say that we get the largest number of students. Traditionally, Science is not seen as a girl’s subject but here at Blackheath High, we are proud to be bucking that trend. It’s a subject that the girls will use in life – we are Biology!
It is really rewarding when a student decides that Biology is the subject that they want to study, particularly at university. They want to take everything that they have learned and take it forward. One student told me that she found her first year at university easy because we had taught her everything at A-level. Not only did she get into university but she also had an amazing start to her degree – that is a great feeling.
What are the benefits to students studying Biology at BHS?
We are well funded so there is no shortage of equipment and it is all up-to-date. We have a good amount of practical work and we also take the girls out of the classroom on Science based trips. For example, we had an animal workshop day for Year 7 in the Sports field where we had a mobile zoo. It was a much more hands on experience than going to the zoo - the girls could ask questions and link it to the theory. Year 9 also had a trip to the Heath and Greenwich Park to study ecology and the variety of plants. We are in a unique location where there is a lot to do. We are fortunate to have Blackheath and Greenwich on our doorstep.
We also integrate the use of iPads in our lessons from Year 9 upwards. We have preloaded content and the girls can take notes on their iPad. This means that we are not only integrating ICT skills as part of their learning but we are speeding up delivery, allowing flexibility, and more time to do practicals (and revise for exams!).
We also have excellent co-curricular activities. We have Science Club which covers everything and Eco Club which enables the girls to make mini projects out of the things we cannot do in lessons.
Is there a particular aspect of the course that students tend to enjoy?
Dissection – everybody wants to dissect something! The girls also tend to remember the Ecology sampling techniques or what the girls call the ‘counting grass experiment’. The point is to understand why there is only grass in a particular area but counting grass is what everyone always remembers!