The A level specifications include significant levels of maths and usage of practical questions but student performance on these areas remains weak despite A level Biology now being embedded. Despite their Maths GCSE and practical experiences in Science at GCSE many students find it hard to transfer these skills to a biological setting.

This course provides new teaching approaches and ideas that will enable students to make key synoptic links and be able to tackle questions on unfamiliar contexts with confidence. Biology teachers can find the Maths aspect of A level Biology specification challenging to teach in an engaging way and our highly experienced Biology teacher and examiner will demonstrate how to integrate the teaching of both maths and the practical skills so that students succeed in the final exams, gaining the highest grades.


  • Gain new approaches for ensuring that students can tackle the maths and data analysis questions with full confidence
  • Discover successful methods for integrating maths and practical skills into teaching of the course
  • Develop new teaching approaches for the practical skills and ensuring students can utilise these with unfamiliar contexts
  • Obtain example answers and ideas that ensure success in the A level Biology exams
COURSE DATES London Wednesday 20 March 2019
London Thursday 13 June 2019
  • All teachers of A level Biology
  • Heads of Department for A level Biology
  • Heads of Science Faculties
IN-SCHOOL You can also book this as an In-School Course
  • A specially prepared folder of 50+ pages full of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance
  • Two course restaurant lunch
  • Refreshments throughout the day
  • Guaranteed high quality venues


10.00 – 11.15am
Planning and delivering a skills-based curriculum

  • Feedback from 2018 on key areas where students succeed and struggle in A level Biology
  • Practical strategies for fully integrating skills teaching into your Biology A level curriculum
  • Planning a Practical Scheme of Work (POW)
  • Improving your students’ cognitive abilities in Biology
  • The use of metacognition and highly effective feedback strategies at A level Biology

11.15 – 11.30am
Discussion: coffee break

11.30 – 12.30pm
Developing the Maths and data analysis skills in context

  • Identifying the best places to teach the maths skills within syllabus areas
  • Where students make mistakes with Maths – reviewing example answers to assess what makes the difference between grades

Key areas for development:

  • Linking Maths skills with syllabus content
  • Maths skills in questions
  • Calculations using spreadsheets
  • Unit conversions
  • Log graphs
  • Decimal places and significant figures

12.30 – 1.00pm
Buzz session: Top tips on how to get A / A* students to hit the top mark bands with Maths and Data Analysis questions

1.00 – 2.00pm
Lunch and informal discussion

2.00 – 3.00pm
Successfully linking Practical skills with A level Biology exam questions

  • Why students struggle to identify the practical skills within a question
  • Where students make mistakes with practical skills – teaching strategies to prevent this

Key areas for development:

  • Understanding and selecting key terminology
  • Dealing with the familiar in unfamiliar contexts
  • Interpreting and explaining data
  • Evaluation of procedures and conclusions
  • Teaching approaches to embed synoptic thinking in A level Biologists

3.00 – 3.45pm
A level Biology exam methods and tests, including Statistical tests

  • Step-by-step procedures when calculating statistical values
  • Choosing which test to use – Chi Squared, Spearman Rank, correlation coefficient, t-test with experimental data
  • Interpretation of the different statistical tests beyond Ecology
  • Analysing examples of when to utilise the relevant skills for high marks

John Medlicott

John has taught for 15 years and has trained teachers for over 10 years where he is regularly graded as “outstanding” by delegates on their evaluation forms. This year he has chaired National Conferences in School Leadership & Teaching and Learning and has led a debate on “the future of A levels” and “Implications of the new OFSTED Framework” at the 6th annual Sixth Form Leadership conference in London. He has held a number of Senior Management positions as well as leading departments both in the UK and internationally.

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Dr James Penny

Currently Head of Science and STEM coordinator at Taunton School in Somerset., James has described over 50 new fossil species and has had several genera and species named for him. Has travelled and lectured across the world. He has published widely, both academic papers and books and resources for GCSE and A level, including many Kerboodle resources and the popular ‘Maths Skills for A level Biology’ textbook. He is a former ISI school inspector, principal examiner and academic development course leader.

View all courses led by Dr James Penny >