“Turn on the TV any night of the week and you will find a wealth of inspiring documentaries bringing the natural world to your sitting room. We study this amazing world day in, day out; with us, you will learn fascinating facts about it that we so often take for granted. - Life! But not as you know it” - Mrs R Bentley, Head of Biology
We are a friendly and collaborative department consisting of six members of teaching staff and two full-time technicians. We feel that education here is not just about passing exams, but rather about the sheer joy of learning and individual research, discussion and debate are at the heart of our teaching. All students are encouraged to dig deeper, explore ideas and develop their own particular interests. The strong relationship forged between teachers and pupils is key to driving this success. We have first-class teaching and inspirational teachers who are passionate about their subjects, and we are very proud of the achievements of all our pupils. New Hall’s Biology Department promotes excellent working relationships between teachers and students. Our staff provide intellectually stimulating, enjoyable lessons to all. We are proud of our strong emphasis on carrying out practical work in lessons. Furthermore, there are robust links with the Preparatory School, including a bespoke curriculum KS3 style curriculum delivered to Year 6, with Year 5 starting this year.
The Biology Department Aims are:
- To encourage enthusiasm and a passion for the study of Biology and a culture of academic excellence, innovation and fun.
- To provide all students with an understanding of the importance of Biology and develop an understanding of the scientific method and its application.
- To encourage students to develop confidence, knowledge and skills to find answers to questions about the workings of the biological, chemical and physical world and become better-informed citizens.
- To encourage the learning of a body of biological knowledge, which can be directly or indirectly applied to life issues, help decision making about Science, and to value scientific contributions and achievements.
- To encourage the further study of Biology and other STEM subjects at university and beyond.
Students have the opportunity to broaden their learning in various ways, including:
- A thriving STEM Club runs for the younger students in Key Stage 3.
- Biology Society is open to students in Key Stages 4 and 5.
- MDV Society is open to students in Key Stages 4 and 5.
- Year 10 students have the opportunity to attend lectures by top scientists at the GCSE Science Live Lectures.
- All Year 9 and 10 students complete the Biology Challenge.
- Year 12 students sit the Intermediate Biology Olympiad.
- Year 13 students sit the Biology Olympiad.
- Each year there are extensive co-curricular activities run during Biology Week.
In previous years we have taken part in Operation Wallacea expeditions to places such as the Galapagos Islands and this is something that we are eager to re-introduce. This has allowed the students to take part in expeditions designed around research projects on wildlife conservation, social science or protected area management aims.
We have superb ICT facilities, allowing data logging, internet research, experimental modelling, and online teaching. Each member of staff is issued with a laptop and iPad for personal use and regular training on the latest platforms is given. This allowed us to seamlessly teach our lessons remotely with great success. One student wrote “I think that my Biology lessons were really successful because they are very interactive with lots of involvement. I particularly liked the interactive nature of the lessons (including the use of Teams and Nearpod) and the support given by the teacher.”
We are lucky to be one of the only schools in the area to have a fully working farm, and as such, this is used extensively by the department. Year 7 students follow a bespoke skills-based course on the farm and a Farm Club allows the students to participate in animal-based activities, to nurture an interest in animal behaviour and welfare and practice animal handling for our veterinary students.
The three sciences are taught separately in Years 7-8 after which the pupils follow the 3 sciences to GCSE.
In Year 7 and 8, students follow an accelerated course which covers the basic principles of Biology. Topics include reproduction, respiration, photosynthesis, health and digestion.
In Year 9 students start their GCSE journey and this continues into Year 10 and 11. They study Biology as part of the AQA Science Double Award (GCSE) or the Triple Science (GCSE).
In Year 12 and 13 students follow the Biology AQA specification. This specification aims to build on GCSE knowledge and is an excellent foundation for university studies.
We have successful applicants to many top universities to study subjects such as Biomedical Science, Medicine, Sport and Exercise Psychology, Zoology and Veterinary Medicine. We have also had success with students securing places on courses at Oxford and Cambridge.
We are delighted that Biology exam results are consistently excellent, and students outperform national expectations in public examinations. In 2019, the most recent year of normal examination processes, 88% of the students gained grades 6-9 and over 80% attained an A*-B at A level. Many students go on to study Biology related degrees including Medicine, Biological Sciences and Natural Sciences. Year 9 and 10 students participate in the annual Biology Challenge Competition, run by the Royal Society of Biology. This aims to stimulate and reward students’ curiosity about the natural world and encourages them to take an interest in Biology outside of school.
A Level pupils compete in the British Biology Olympiad aiming to be selected as a member of the UK Team competing in the International Biology Olympiad (IBO) which involves the top pre-university biology students in the world. In this academically selective school, the challenges include stretching the ablest up to Oxbridge level. The department also has a comprehensive support programme for candidates applying to Oxbridge and medicine, with much success in this area.
Science club is available to all students, offering a range of fun activities and experiments.
Every year we celebrate Science Week and Biology Week by offering a number of events. This year during Biology Week, students had the opportunity to attend ‘Dissection Club’, a Biology debate and the ‘VIVIT Experience’, which involved an autopsy using a semi-synthetic cadaver.
We offer the opportunity to take part in the Biology Challenge and British Biology Olympiad competitions.
Year 10 Triple Science students had the opportunity to attend lectures by top scientists at the GCSE Science Live Lectures. The day consisted of fascinating and inspiring lectures from a range of well-known leading scientists who have all played important roles in making science more accessible and engaging for public consumption.
The lively lectures were provided by: Prof Robert Winston; Prof Andrea Sella; Prof Jim Al-Khalili; Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Prof Alice Roberts.
After graduating with a Dual Honours in Pharmacology and Physiology (BSc) from Sheffield University, Mrs Bentley decided that working in the laboratory was not for her, and so completed her PGCE. After working in Sheffield, Mrs Bentley got a job in Thailand where she taught the International Baccalaureate Diploma (IB), was Head of Year and then promoted to Head of 6th Form.
Living in Thailand and loving the water, she became a keen SCUBA diver and a PADI Dive Instructor. Mrs Bentley then moved to Hong Kong where she was promoted to an Assistant Head role as Head of Middle School. It was here that she met her husband and they moved to Dubai for five years, where their son was born. Mrs Bentley still loves travelling and has been fortunate to travel to many countries SCUBA diving. She also loves spending time with her family, and Chocolate Labrador, Zuri.
Mrs English has a degree in Biological Sciences from Kings College London and a PGCE from Anglia Ruskin University. She teaches Biology across the school from Year 6 to Year 13. She is a GCSE examiner, and has also worked for the Welcome Trust on their publication ‘The Big Picture’.
In school she also assists with the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award. In her spare time she loves walking – she has completed the London Moonwalk, the Thames Bridge’s Trek and a virtual Lands end to John O’Groats challenge. You can often find Mrs English and her dalmatian Marshall out and about on the footpaths of Essex.
During her BSc Biomedical Science studies at the University of Roehampton, Mrs Wilson particularly enjoyed studying Epidemiology and Pharmacology. In her final year, she was elected by her peers to hold the role of ‘May Monarch’. In 1881, John Ruskin inaugurated the annual May Day ceremonies and this tradition has survived, seeing the May Monarch’s all return to college every May Day to welcome the new student into the role. During her time in the role, Mrs Wilson arranged numerous fundraising activities to help raise funds for the Teenage Cancer Trust.
Upon completing her degree, she decided that she was not suited to working in a laboratory and completed the Graduate Teacher Programme at Greensward Academy in Hockley, Essex. Soon after joining New Hall in 2012, Mrs Wilson secured the roles of Head of Biology and Head of Science. She thoroughly enjoyed leading the department for six years and relinquished these roles following the birth of her son, to enable her to spend more time at home with her two young children. In her spare time, Mrs Wilson enjoys baking and travelling; She have been fortunate to lead several trips during her teaching career, including an Outlook Expeditions trip to Malawi and an Operation Wallacea expedition to Kruger National Park, South Africa.
Dr Tiffen was born in Chelmsford and studied Biochemistry at the University of Warwick. After graduating, he won a place on the prestigious Wellcome Trust 4-year PhD in Infection & Immunity at the University of Cambridge where his research focused on the study of cell death pathways within the mammary gland. He then returned to Chelmsford and undertook his training as a Science Teacher.
Having worked at both The Boswells School and Great Baddow High School, Dr Tiffen taught at Brentwood School for eight years, holding the roles of Head of Chemistry, Head of Biology, Head of Careers, Head of Able & Talented and Head of Sixth Form, before moving to his current role at New Hall in 2017. Dr Tiffen has taught Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Psychology and he has particular interest in mentoring students who are pursuing careers in clinical disciplines such as Medicine, Dentistry or Veterinary Medicine.
Mrs Dennis grew up in Fife, Scotland and as an avid walker she still misses the rolling hills and vast countryside. She studied Medical Biotechnology at university in Dundee and moved to Chelmsford in 2006.
She trained to become a teacher in Chelmsford and worked at The Plume school in Maldon before starting at New Hall in 2012. In her free time Mrs Dennis enjoys walking, swimming and travelling to new places.
Dr Martin is the newest member of the Biology department, joining New Hall in January 2023. She has a degree in Basic Medical Science with Pathology (BSc) and then undertook a PhD in Medical Microbiology, both at Imperial College London. Dr Martin continued her studies with her Postdoctoral research in Microbiology at Imperial College and for the Health Protection Agency, where she led national and European surveillance programmes on antibiotic resistance in Neisseria gonorroheae. She completed teacher training and gained her PGCE with the Colchester Teacher Training Consortium and since 2016 has taught Biology.
She enjoys teaching all areas of Biology, especially Microbiology and Molecular Biology, and highly values the importance of practical work. Dr Martin was Head of Biology at Colchester County High School for Girls for 10 years, before joining New Hall in 2023. She now teaches Biology to students in Years 7 to 13. In her spare time she enjoys walking the seawalls of Essex and sailing – she races a keelboat most weekends with her husband on the River Crouch.