Biology - GCSE (AQA 8461)

Course Description

This course aims to enable learners to build on their previous biology knowledge and to increase their understanding, confidence and skills set in order to use biology in their future careers.  

This course will cover the foundation and higher content of GCSE Biology. Learners who want to take higher tier examinations will receive a limited level of support from the maths department, so we expect learners study independently. The main areas of the study are: Cell biology, Organisation, Infection and response, Bioenergetics, Homeostasis and response, Inheritance, variation and evolution, Ecology. 

Some of the Biology content will be run in virtual classrooms. Therefore, learners must have easy access to a computer with the Internet.  

The course will run over a total of 31 weeks from September to June, including a 3-week BAES IT Fundamentals course in order to maximise participation in learning using digital tools and a 3-week Advanced Study Skills course. Classes will be held once or twice a week and the sessions will be 3 or 2.5 hours long respectively.

Entry Requirement

This course is normally delivered over 2 years in schools. Therefore, it is very fast-paced, and learners need to have good English and maths skills in order to take this course. Ideally, learners should have a level 2 qualification in Maths and English. All learners will be expected to complete an assessment before enrolling on the course.   

Learners will be expected to do about 4 hours a week of independent study outside of classes. 

Initial Assessment

To gain a place on the course, all learners must book an initial assessment by calling one of the BAES centres. GCSE initial assessments are generally carried out remotely on Zoom although people can book a face-to-face assessment. Depending on the results of the assessment, learners may be advised to join a different course.

Learning Strategies

During sessions, there will be a variety of learning strategies and opportunities including small group work, discussion, written work and practical experiments. Learners will also be able to use the internet for research. It is important that learners attend all sessions and make time to work at home every week in order to prepare, practise and consolidate their learning. BAES has its own website for learners to access at home or in a library for practice, homework tasks and revision.

Progress Monitoring

Learners’ progress and attendance will be monitored throughout the course. After the first progress check in October, the learner and their teacher will determine if they can cope with the level and amount of work required and if they can demonstrate good attendance and punctuality. 


There will be 2 exams at the end of the course in May and June. They will be marked externally by AQA and results will be available in August. 


A GCSE Grade 4 or higher will open up a variety of job, training and higher education opportunities for successful learners.

Support if you are registered unemployed, looking for a job or a better job - Route to Work

As part of your programme of learning, we will support you to develop the skills you need to get a job or a better job, such as CV writing, application forms, interviews and working in a team. your tutor will discuss your individual learning and development needs to agree with you which of our Route to Work short courses will best suit your needs and enrol you on these modules.

Support if you have disabilities or learning difficulties

Please let your teacher know if you have learning difficulties as soon as possible. Awarding bodies are required to make pre-examination adjustments for learners with special educational needs based on evidence of need and normal way of working. If you believe you have learning difficulties or disabilities that impairs your learning, you will need to disclose this to your teacher as early as possible in order for us to obtain approval from the exam board in time. As the approval process takes a considerable amount of time, it should be noted that it is not always possible to secure access arrangements for learners on Fast Track or Intensive courses, or if the disclosure document is submitted late.

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