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In November 2021, the Royal Society of Biology published Evolving 5-19 Biology: recommendations and framework for 5-19 biology curricula. The aim of this document is to set out RSB's vision for biology curricula across all four UK nations, presenting a coherent and cohesive approach to biology education and influencing policy makers, curriculum designers and specification designers across the UK, as well as aiming to support teachers and school leaders in developing and justifying the biology curriculum within their schools.

Please use the following links to access an overview of the three dimensions, seven big-questions and 23 themes and the eight recommendations to raise the standards across the school biology curriculum as set out in Evolving 5-19 Biology.


Evolving 5-19 Biology: Framework summaries

Cross cutting themes in the framework for 5-19 biology curricula


2022 and beyond


Framework Summaries

Summary for policy makers


This summary for policy makers is an introduction to the RSB's organisational curriculum framework and eight recommendations to raise the standards of school biology. It is intended to be used to inform future curriculum policy, guidance and content.



Summary for awarding bodies 2


This summary document for awarding bodies is an introduction to the RSB curriculum framework and is an intended to inform the development of biology curricula and guidance documents that will be the basis for general, technical and vocational courses for young people up to age 19.


Summary for teachers


This summary for teachers is an introduction to the RSB's curriculum framework. It is intended to be used by teachers and curriculum leaders to develop and justify the biology curriculum within their schools. It may also be of interest to trainee teachers, early career teachers and experienced teachers interested in making links between topics and looking at progression between key stages.


Cross-Cutting themes in the framework for 5-19 biology curricula

Our framework for the 5-19 biology curricula has three dimensions sub-divided into 23 themes. Each of these is a different way of viewing the biological world. Underpinning these views are ‘cross-cutting themes’ that draw together common ideas across the themes, integrating them into three keystone ideas. Students’ appreciation and understanding of these ideas will grow and develop throughout their study of biology.



Since 2014, our Curriculum Committee, chaired by Libby John, followed by Jeremy Pritchard has been working to develop a framework for coherent 5 – 19 biology curricula. Evolving 5-19 Biology offers a framework for biology curricula, allowing us to inform curriculum development across the UK regions and, gradually internationally based on the best available evidence.

In February 2018, we published a leaflet presenting our mapping of a coherent 5-19 biology curriculum. Following a consultation, this map was updated and was presented as part of a special edition of School Science Review Framing the secondary science curriculum alongside articles from the Institute of Physics and Royal Society of Chemistry who are undertaking similar work. RSB's article Developing a framework for the biology curriculum reflects on our approach, and the rationale behind some of the decisions made mapping a coherent curriculum for biology.


Future work

RSB will continue developing our position on the school experience of biology, including assessment, practical work and fieldwork as well as considering how the three dimensions could be used to support the learning of biology within early-years settings. We aim to support teaching by signposting resources, providing a continued evidence base and disseminating best practice, as well as engaging with stakeholders, schools, teachers and pupils.

We will also continue to work with others in the science education community to produce joint papers that will point to useful resources for teachers, evidence based teaching order, interdisciplinary areas and other topics. Joint papers that have been published can be viewed on the Consultation Responses page.

The Curriculum Committee are in the process of creating policy documents that focus on specific areas of the curriculum, such as sustainability and practical work, and why they are vital for biology education.

For more information about the framework, and future work in this area please contact Hannah Lings


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