Online | Part 1 – Thursday 17 June 2021
Online | Part 2 – Tuesday 29 June 2021

CODE: 8306


Teaching A level biology for the first time can seem daunting for new teachers. This course will give you a clear overview of the expectations and ideas to address the areas that are challenging. We will investigate differentiation, stretch and challenge and exam technique with a view to developing successful, independent learners who will fully embrace the synoptic nature of biology. The day will be discussion based with many activities to illustrate the ideas discussed.


  • NQTs in Biology.
  • Teachers aiming to teach A Level biology in the future or who have just started teaching A Level for the first time.
  • Teachers who want to enhance their confidence in teaching A Level.
  • Teachers who have not taught A level biology for some time.


  • Identified the challenges faced by teachers and students when starting A level
  • Recognised the sources of help and support that are most useful
  • Learned strategies to ensure students meet the expectations of A level
  • Developed a range of teaching strategies that enable students to develop synoptic thinking
  • Understand the range of question types and how to prepare students for them
  • Developed a clear understanding of essay requirements and methods of preparing students from the start of the course
  • Shared concerns and ideas with teachers in similar situations


Session 1

4.30 – 4.35  pm Welcome and Introduction

4.35 – 5.35   Being new to A level teaching

  • Breaking down the challenge’s teachers feel about teaching A level
  • Ensuring students hit the ground running in September
  • Recognising which areas will be most challenging for you and how to address these issues
  • Identifying your support network and making the most of it

5.40 – 6.40pm                        

Expectations at A level

  • What do successful A level students do?
  • Teaching a linear qualification
  • Synoptic skills and how to embed them.
  • Examiners feedback and how to use these in your teaching.

Session 2

4.30  – 5.30 pm:

Embedding core concepts and developing synoptic thinking

  • Differentiation strategies that support and extend learners appreciation of the links in biology
  • Developing independent thinking and learning skills through teaching strategies
  • From practical work to exam questions: encouraging students to see the connections

5.35 – 6.35 pm: Exam technique and question styles

  • Identifying the different types of question and how they are marked
  • Preparing students for the exam and the variety of questions they face
  • Introducing the essay and embedding preparation into your planning
  • Strategies and activities to reduce the fear of the essay

Michael Brown

Michael was an examiner for 18 years and has worked in post 16 education for 23 years, initially as an A-level Biology Tutor before progressing to Head of Department and finally STEM and Quality Initiatives Manager. He has had a positive effect on student’s aspirations and achievement; his Learner Voice results are always very positive and examination results have been consistently above benchmark for all KPI’s with excellent value added. As a Head of Department he completed an ‘Exceeding Expectations’ management training course and is a strong and effective leader. His Science provision was chosen as part of OFSTED’s Good practice survey: Improving Sciences in Colleges. Michael was then seconded to another campus to improve science results and turned around the department within 12 months. During this time his college also reached the finals of the National STEMNET Awards for three consecutive years.