This course is aimed at teachers of A level Biology who want to explore ways to increase the effectiveness of their teaching. Teaching and learning often concentrates on acquiring knowledge and understanding, whilst in exams the majority of marks are awarded for demonstrating the higher level skills. The aim of this course is to explore ways in which the curriculum can be delivered with a focus on skills such as data analysis, evaluation and solving problems set in unfamiliar contexts. Strategies will include ways to support the lower ability students as well as stretching those aiming for top grades. Examples of different question styles will be used, including level of response questions to explore the skills examiners expect students to be able to demonstrate.


  • Develop a better understanding of the skills examiners are looking for
  • Gain ideas for teaching that develops these skills in all your students
  • Investigate ways to increase your students’ confidence when solving problems in unfamiliar contexts
  • Discover strategies for developing students’ ability to communicate information more effectively
  • Explore OCR exam questions to identify ways to help students to maximise marks
  • Take away ideas to use to help your students maximise their marks in challenging exam questions requiring high level skills of analysis and evaluation using qualitative and quantitative data

Online | Friday 19 November 2021

  • Experienced teachers of OCR A Level Biology Specification A
  • Heads of Department
  • Heads of Science
  • A specially prepared folder of detailed notes, practical advice and guidance
  • Notes prepared by the educational experts leading the course
  • Expert produced PowerPoint presentations
  • CPD Certificate of attendance


10.00 – 11.00am: Ways to demonstrate detailed and comprehensive knowledge and understanding of scientific ideas, processes, techniques and procedures in questions

  • Strategies to teach AO1 skills to maximise initial learning and conceptual understanding
  • Using forms of visual representation to help students comprehend complex information
  • Helping students monitor, reflect upon and improve their learning strategies
  • Teaching students to construct outstanding exam responses

11.00: Morning Break

11.15 – 12.00 pm: Approaches and ideas to raise your students’ standards in organising and concisely communicating information using appropriate scientific terminology

  • What does grade A/A* work look like? What feedback should we be giving students to help them to improve their communication skills?
  • Developing excellence in written responses that require selection of information and evidence to give a balanced argument using examples from Genetics, evolution and ecosystems
  • Strategies which increase students’ success when making judgements and forming conclusions which they can fully justify
  • Preparing students to answer levels of response questions – how to organise information and provide a concise 6-mark answer than gains the communication mark.

12.00 – 12.45 pm: Applying scientific knowledge, principles and concepts in familiar and new contexts

  • Exploring the four strands of AO2 with examples of how exam questions will test students’ ability to develop specification content, make links between specification content and novel situations and provide evidence-based responses.
  • Teaching strategies to help students build confidence in answering questions set in unfamiliar contexts using examples from Foundations in biology
  • Making sense of connections and linkages within data
  • Activities that develop students’ active processing of knowledge and understanding

12.45 – 1.45 pm: Lunch

1.45 – 2.30 pm: Improving Student Performance in Complex Quantitative Calculations

  • Identifying the range of calculations that students need to master and strategies to help students apply these in different contexts
  • Maximising marks in calculation questions – structuring answers logically and expressing answers to an appropriate precision
  • Interpreting the outcomes of calculations: Hardy-Weinberg, statistical tests, and Simpson’s index

2.30 – 2.45: afternoon break (optional – also can be taken at any time in the afternoon or at the end of the afternoon)

2.45 – 3.30 pm Teaching students to interpret and evaluate ideas, information and evidence using accurate and detailed explanations of complex phenomena

  • Characteristics that separate the Grade Bs from the As: comparing the quality of responses to exam questions
  • Feedback and intervention techniques to develop skills of evaluation, making judgements and reaching conclusions
  • Teaching to develop a deeper understanding of practical design and procedures enabling students to refine these or plan new procedures to solve problems

3.30: Depart

Fiona Jones

Fiona Jones has taught A level Biology for 38 years, for much of this time in a management role.  She has successfully led teams through curriculum change and has a breadth of experience encompassing many aspects of post-16 education.  Fiona is an experienced trainer and has delivered a range of courses for both students and teachers. As an A level examiner she understands how important it is that students acquire and develop the skills necessary for success.