Subject Team

Mr D Morris (Head Of Department)
Dr D Henderson
Mrs C Leeper
Mrs E Glynn
Mr S McDowell

Department Aims

The Biology Department’s Aim – to promote a positive, caring atmosphere in which individual self-discipline can develop an interest in Biology and it’s relevance to life.

Our staff are an enthusiastic and highly motivated team who are all experienced CCEA examiners at either GCSE, AS or A2 level. You will quickly become aware of the excellent staff/student relationships. This is all reflected in our excellent external examination results which are always well above the grammar school average at GCSE and A Level.  At GCSE we offer CCEA Biology and CCEA Agriculture & Land Use

GCSE

GCSE Biology


Examination Board: CCEA

 What is GCSE Biology about?

Biology has the greatest factual content of the three sciences and involves a substantial mathematical component. It includes a study of Plant and Animal Biology along with ecology, genetics and micro-organisms.  Students who are considering doing A Level Biology are strongly advised to take GCSE Chemistry. 

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

Content Assessment Weighting
Unit 1 Cells, Living Processes and Biodiversity Written examination

(1 hour 15 mins)

 

35%
Unit 2 Body Systems, Genetics, Microorganisms and Health Written examination

(1 hour 30 mins)

 

40%
Unit 3 Practical Assessment Booklet A (7.5%)

Two externally marked pre-release practicals in Year 12.

 

Booklet B (17.5%)

External written examination on practical work. (1 hour)

25%

What can this subject lead to?

Studying Biology at GCSE can lead to A Level which opens up a vast range of careers including medicine, dentistry, veterinary, agriculture, biosciences, ecology, forensics, genetics, marine biology, entomology etc.

 

GCSE Agriculture & Land Use

Examination Board: CCEA

What is GCSE Agriculture & Land Use about?

Agriculture & Land Use is designed to appeal not only to young people from the changing agricultural sector but also those who are interested in working within the wider land-based and environmental industries.  This is an applied course which has been designed to motivate students to take charge of their own learning and to develop knowledge and practical skills in agriculture and other land use.  It is designed for those who have an interest in Agriculture, Horticulture, Veterinary Science or other Land-Based careers. Those who do the course need to have a willingness to participate in Field Trips, handle small/farm animals and work with plants, soil and garden tools.

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

 

Content Assessment Weighting
Unit 1
Soils, Crops and Habitats
External Examination

 

20%
Unit 2
Animals on the Land
External Examination

 

20%
Unit 3
Controlled Assessment
Controlled Assessment:

Planning and Investigation

Research and Presentation

60%

 

 

What can this subject lead to?

The Agri-Food industry contributes hugely to the local economy representing employment for around 50,000 people in farms, factories and the Agri-Food sector. Several prominent Agri-Food businesses are located in the Portadown area.  It also develops skills necessary for A Level Science study.

 

 

A Level

A Level Biology (CCEA) Biology
Examination Board: CCEA

What is A Level Biology about?

An interesting detailed study of the intricacies of plants and animals along with microbes, genetics and ecology.  Biology is a very relevant and inspiring subject, with a lot of factual information, enabling students to have an ability to understand complex processes, analysis, evaluation, problem solving and practical skills. 

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

AS Content Assessment Weighting
Unit 1 Molecules and Cells External Examination 37.5% of AS

15% of A Level

Unit 2 Organisms and Biodiversity  

External Examination

 

37.5% of AS

15% of A Level

Unit  3 AS Practical Skills 1 hour External Examination (50 marks) and internal practical assessment (21 marks) 25% of AS

10% of A Level

 

A2 Content Assessment Weighting
Unit 1

Physiology, Co-ordination and Control and Ecosystems

External Examination 24% of A Level
Unit 2 Biochemistry, Genetics and Evolutionary Trends  

External Examination

 

24% of A Level
Unit 3 A2 Practical Skills 1 hour 15mins External Examination (60 marks) and internal practical assessment (15 marks)  

12% of A Level

 

Are there any particular qualities or skills I should have to study this course and to what kind of careers can it lead?

For entry you need in GCSE Higher Tier Biology a minimum of 300 uniform marks (i.e. mid B) and for GCSE Double Award Science ‘AB’ grade or above, along with a minimum of a ‘B’ grade in Mathematics. A level Biology involves many calculations, use of statistics and an understanding and application of basic Chemistry.

Studying Biology at A Level opens up a vast range of careers including medicine, dentistry, veterinary, agriculture, biosciences, ecology, forensics, genetics, physiotherapy, nursing, research, marine biology, horticulture, entomology etc.

Department News / Events

Moodonna arrives at Portadown College

Some of the Year 12 Agriculture & Land Use students learning about the digestive system of  a cow with the new model obtained by the Biology Department.  Included is Helen Sinton who won the competition to name the new cow, calling it Moodonna.

Biology Department produces top performers in N Ireland GCSE exams again!
Harry Stevenson 1st in GCSE Agriculture & Land Use (teachers David Morris & Dr David Henderson)

Matthew Vennard Joint 1st in GCSE Biology (teacher Carol Leeper)

Harper Adams endorsement for GCSE Agriculture and Land Use GCSE

The fantastic achievements of Portadown College since introducing GCSE Agriculture and Land Use have been recognised by Harper Adams University. The world renowned Agricultural Institute have presented the College with a Galway crystal vase to be awarded annually to the top GCSE Agricultural student.

Student support co-ordinator for Harper Adams University in N. Ireland, Basil Bayne is very impressed with the success of GCSE Agriculture and Land Use in Portadown College and was delighted to present the award to Sammy Buckley, who was third in Northern Ireland last year.

Based in Shropshire, Harper Adams is well regarded in leading the future development of the Agri-Food industry and Portadown College are delighted that their students’ achievements have been recognised at National level.

 

Royal Society of Biology: Biology Challenge 2017

Our Year 11 biologists were very successful in the British Biology Challenge competition along with the top biologists throughout the UK.  The Biology Challenge tests pupils’ knowledge of biology and stimulates their enthusiasm for the natural world.

Gold
Alex Bleakney
Peter Davison
Matthew Gillespie
Adam Hamilton
Charlie Logan
William McCann
Ryan Neill
Hannah Newell
Amber Reid
Rebecca Shirley
Viggo Stanczak
Megan Symington
Lucy Vallelly
Nathan Waugh

Silver
Daniel Burke
Anna Campbell
Lois Campbell
Sarah Greer
Rebecca Humphrys
Mackenzie Killops

Commended
Cam Mei Phun

 

British Biology Olympiad 2017 Success

Portadown College had great success in the British Biology Olympiad again this year.  The Olympiad is run by the institute of Biology, the professional body for Biology.  This year over 7,500 top biologists throughout the UK took part in the Biology Olympiad competition.  The following awards were obtained.

Gold – Hannah Meredith & Victoria McTurk

Silver – Jack McMahon, John Russell, Emma Topley & Katie Topley

Bronze – Abigail Cairns & Heather King

Highly Commended – Claire Carswell & Taylor Davis

Commended – Emma-Jayne Wright

Top Places in Northern Ireland for Portadown College in GCSE Biology and Agriculture & Land Use 

Portadown College congratulates Tim Neill who was joint 2nd in GCSE Biology, and Samuel Buckley who gained 3rd place in GCSE Agriculture & Land Use.

biology-dept-ni-success

Royal Society of Biology: Biology Challenge 2016

Our Year 11 biologists were very successful in the British Biology Challenge competition along with the top biologists throughout the UK.  The Biology Challenge tests pupils’ knowledge of biology and stimulates their enthusiasm for the natural world.

Olympiad winners june 16

Gold
Aimee Abraham
Aaron Capper
Emma Lewis
Emily Monroe
Sarah Nelson
Matthew Vennard
Hannah Vogan 

Silver
Sabrina Greenaway
Sarah Herron
Eve Lowry
Kayleigh McCluskey
Rachel Telford 

Bronze
Calum Coert
Charlotte Ferguson
Stephanie Humphreys
Daniel Moorcroft
Harry Stevenson

Highly Commended
Zoe Alhadeff
Poppy Davis
Jacob Hall
Zara Holden
Amy Parnham
Kyle Willoughby

Commended
Kerrie Ruddell

British Biology Olympiad 2016

Portadown College had great success in the British Biology Olympiad again this year.  The Olympiad is run by the institute of Biology, the professional body for Biology.  This year over 7,000 top biologists throughout the UK took part in the Biology Olympiad competition.  The following awards were obtained. 

Silver – Toby Bonny
Bronze – Sarah O’Reilly, Sarah Sinton & Kaitlin Whyte
Highly Commended – Richard Irwin & Reece Somerville
Commended – Sarah Porter

biology olympiad 2

Celebrating Excellence

Josh Ruddell’s exam success is recognised at the CCEA Celebrating Excellence GCE Award Ceremony at Parliament Buildings, Stormount in December.

Josh was awarded joint 1st in Northern Ireland for GCE A Level Biology, receiving his award from CCEA Chief Executive – Justin Edwards.

This excellent result reflects not only the academic excellence of Josh (now a medical student at QUB), but also the excellent standard of teaching within the Biology Department of Portadown College.

Josh R - CCEA 3

Josh R CCEA 1

Portadown College – outstanding in its own field!

Portadown College was delighted with its first examination results for GCSE Agriculture and Land Use. The College introduced the new GCSE immediately it became available from CCEA as part of the College’s ethos to offer a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, meeting the needs of all the students who attend PC.

Portadown College students attained four out of the five A* grades awarded in Northern Ireland and had 100% pass rate at grades A*-B, 21% higher than the Northern Ireland Grammar School average results in this subject.

GCSE Agriculture and Land Use provides great insight and application into the many career opportunities available in the Northern Ireland Agri-Food Industry, meeting the needs of the large intake to Portadown College.

Student Marcus Hewitt said that “Agriculture and Land Use has been hugely beneficial to me.  It has allowed me to further develop my Agricultural knowledge and skills.  I have thoroughly enjoyed it and as a result of this, I may wish to pursue a career within the Agricultural sector.”  Another student Jack Ogilby said “I chose this GCSE because I was coming from an agricultural background and knew it would interest me.  I found it highly fascinating and enjoyable and believe what I have gained from this course will benefit me in my future employment”.

Photograph of the four A* students (Matthew Gilmore, Alastair Gilpin, Marcus Hewitt and Jack Ogilby) and their teachers Dr Henderson and Mr D Morris (Head of Biology).
ALU A star students 2015

British Biology Challenge 2015 Year 11

Our Year 11 biologists have entered the British Biology Challenge competition along with the top biologists throughout the UK. The Biology Challenge tests pupils’ knowledge of biology and stimulates their enthusiasm for the natural world. In total, 32,500 students from across the UK competed and 9,500 certificates were awarded to students.

Biology Challenge Year 11 2015

British Biology Olympiad 2015

Portadown College had great success in the British Biology Olympiad again this year. The Olympiad is run by the institute of Biology, the professional body for Biology. This year over 6,000 top biologists throughout the UK took part in the Biology Olympiad competition. The following awards were obtained.

Gold – Andrew Carrick
Silver – Josh Ruddell
Bronze – Chloe Drake, Olivia Sharpe & Michelle Trouton
Highly Commended – Kenneth Almendral
Commended – James Cunningham, Megan Henry & Dawn Wilson

Olympiad 2015

Dr McKee, consultant geneticist from Belfast H&SC Trust spoke to the AS students on gene technology and his career path, organised through STEMNET.

Dr McKee, consultant geneticist from Belfast H&SC Trust

Educational Visits / Trips

Year 12 GCSE Agriculture & Land Use visit Greenmount College. November 2017

Our Year 12 GCSE students had a great Day at Greenmount College on Friday 17th November.  They were informed of the options at Greenmount College for further study and then visited different areas of the College to see more detail on new technologies, farm diversification, renewable energy, Reed Beds and running of their dairy unit.  It was a very beneficial experience.

 

Year 13 students visit Greenmount. March 2017

Year 13 Biology students enjoyed a day at CAFRE Greenmount College on Monday 20th March.  They were given an overview on career options available in the Agri-Food industry in NI and worldwide.  This was followed by a tour around the College to see how some of the theory in the AS Biology course was applied in the Agri-Food context and obtained data for sampling techniques.

  

Agriculture students visit the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute. October 2016

ALU students enjoyed the morning at the Agri-food and Bioscience Institute at Hillsborough.  They saw different aspects of the research work there with pigs, cows and cattle and received great information about the many career pathways available in the Agri-Food sector.

dscf0772 dscf0781 dscf0774 dscf0780

Year 11 Agriculture students attend Greenmount Career Event

PC Year 11 Agriculture & Land Use students had a very enjoyable day attending the Grow Careers Event at Greenmount College on Tuesday 21st June.  It gave an insight into the global nature of horticulture with much interest in Plant Science Technologies and Business, Sports and Leisure opportunities and the positive power of plants in Health and Wellbeing. 

2 ALU Greenmount Jun 16 1 ALU Greenmount Jun 16 3 ALU Greenmount Jun16

Year 14 Biology students visit Greenmount, Sept. 2015

Year 14 Biology students enjoyed a day at Greenmount College.  They were given an overview on all the career options available in the Agri-Food industry in NI and worldwide.  This was followed by a tour around the College to see how some of the theory in the A2 Biology course was applied in the Agri-Food context.

DSCF0661 DSCF0637 DSCF0641DSCF0646

 

Year 11 visit Greenmount College, June 2015

The Year 11 Agriculture & Land Use class attended the Grow Careers Event at Greenmount College on Wednesday 25th June.  It gave an insight into the global nature of horticulture with much interest in Plant Science Technologies and Business, Sports and Leisure opportunities and the positive power of plants in Health and Wellbeing.  It was a very enjoyable and informative day.

CEIAG Links

Where will Biology take me?

People will always require healthy food, new medicines, clean water, sensibly-produced crops, and fuel that is carbon neutral. Without a work force well trained in the biological sciences, none of this will happen.

Pursuing a career in biology is stimulating and rewarding. Whether you are an indoor or outdoor type, a solo performer or a team player, interested in plants, animals or people – there are options for everyone with an interest in biology, and rewarding career opportunities for those deciding to study biology at school or university.

Biology is one of the most useful subjects you can study at GCSE and A Level. It is essential for many careers like medecine and veterinary science and will also provide the necessary background to an extremely wide choice of other careers like psychology and sports science.

Click to view a short 6 minute video entitled:
Where could studying Biology lead?

Click on the title below to go to a page containing a link for a useful booklet entitled:
Becoming a Biologist: Degrees and Careers in Biology

Below, some of our former students have provided details of their chosen career path since they left Portadown College after studying Biology to A-Level. Click on the names below to find out more:

Where will Agriculture and Land Use take me?

Students studying the Agriculture and Land Use GCSE course are ideally placed for a career in the Agri-Food Industry. Locally more than 330 processing companies operate in the food and drinks sector, and several are based in the Craigavon area, eg. Moy Park, Wilson’s Country, Gilfresh, Tayto, etc. Last year 90% of food graduates secured employment or higher level study within 6 months of graduation, many with attractive salaries and excellent prospects. There is little doubt that Agriculture and Land Use is a growth area and good job opportunities exist. Food will not go out of fashion! Source DARD June 2012

Food will never go out of fashion!!!