A GCE Biology course developed in partnership with the University of York

Eastern England

Reports from centres on the AS and the A2 (various years)

Trinity Roman Catholic School, Nottingham
Caistor Grammar School

Castle Manor Community Upper School

Philip Morant College, Colchester

Seevic College, Essex

Deacon's School, Peterborough

Greensward College, Essex


Trinity Roman Catholic School, Nottingham

What students liked most about the SNAB AS was the amount of practical work, which allows it to be more 'hands-on' than any other AS Biology course.

The big changes from the course we were doing before have been more practicals, and doing them before the theory.

The greatest challenge has been fitting everything into the time scale.

Looking ahead to the A2, expect to spend more time on answering exam questions (if possible).

J. Gordon


Caistor Grammar School

What students liked most about the SNAB course has been

  • not having to do another GCSE-style project or practical exam in the AS
  • having a tailor-made course book
  • the 'relevance'.

In the SNAB A2 students like the neuropsychology and forensics topic (particularly the maggots) best.

The big changes from the course we were doing before have been

  • the structured nature of the course with its integrated activities and practicals, rather than just a 'syllabus'
  • the imaginative approach to assessment of practicals
  • relevant and up-to-date materials.

The greatest challenges have been

  • struggling with the software glitches and the network
  • reading the book ahead of the students!
  • fitting in the open-ended A2 projects, assessing them, and collecting them in in digital format

Students who have done the SNAB A2 are, as in other years, going on to medicine, dentistry, micro-biology, agricultural college, selling computers ...

Geoff Stratford and M. Bean


Castle Manor Community Upper School, Suffolk

What students liked most about the SNAB AS was -

  • the dynamic name of the course, which promoted interest by having variety.
  • practicals with a purpose - students could see an aim, even if only the exam!

The big changes from the course we were doing before have been -

  • Core practicals and storyline approach have maintained interest.
  • use of computers has been a definite advantage (although a very few have really disliked this approach, they were made aware of it before starting the course).

The greatest challenge has been -

  • letting the students be more independent
  • getting the computers running - but we managed!

Looking ahead to the A2 we expect -
continuing interest from students, leading to better results and increasing course numbers.

Huw Williams


July 2005: Philip Morant College, Colchester

What students most liked about SNAB was its relevant to current affairs and recent biology issues.

We found fitting it all in a challenge! the second half of the AS year is very tight. [*ed’s note: this is reduced in the new course starting Sept 05]

Students who completed the A2 have gone on to sports science, medicine, pharmacy, and teaching.

Francesca Bradbury


June 2005: Seevic College, Benfleet, Essex

Students enjoy different things about the SNAB course: the storylines that bring the biological principles to life, learning from computer resources, and the novel practicals (dinosaurs and Reebops [see below] were particularly popular).

Students liked the visit report to the Human Genome project (Sanger Centre) where they could see that what they were learning in biology was actually relevant.

We found getting our brains round the nature nurture material on the brain challenging.

Students who completed the A2 in June 2005 have gone on to various biology degrees, hopefully well-prepared.

Julian Thomas


June 2003: Deacon's School, Peterborough

Students most liked the real-life relevance and the chance to use more ICT. We had two students who chose biology as their fourth AS subject, but now maintain that it has been their most enjoyable one.

The biggest changes from what we were doing before have been the amount of ICT, and the contextualising of difficult areas such as biochemistry and cell biology.

The greatest challenge has been the unique assessment of practical work. Looking ahead to the A2, we expect to be stimulated by the material, but need more guidance on the nature of the assessment during this first time of doing the course.

Jean Cade


July 2005: Greensward College, Essex

Students enjoyed the relevance of the material to everyday life, and were very enthusiastic about the amount and type of practical work.

We found the issue and visit report ideas challenging, and encouraging students to think more deeply about the issues they had chosen.

Students who have completed the A2 have gone on to do different things: many are going to university to do both science and non-science degrees. Some have gone straight into work.

The Field Studies Council ran an excellent one-year field course tailored to the SNAB coursework and visit.

Stephen Humphreys