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Evolving 5-19 Biology: a framework and recommendations for 5 - 19 biology curricula

The RSB's curriculum committee has developed a framework and recommendations for coherent 5-19 biology curricula and will be publishing the framework on Wednesday 10th November 2021.

We will be hosting an online curriculum framework launch event from 10:00am-12:00pm on Wednesday 10th November and this page will be updated regularly with details of the event.

Why develop a framework?

Over the last 10 - 15 years the UK school education system has undergone a number of changes. there have been several rounds of curriculum reform, bringing in new content and ways of assessing students' understanding of science as well as their development of a range of skills. The respectability for compulsory 5-19 education is devolved to each of the home nations' own governments; the systems are different in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

The Royal Society of Biology has been working with the bioscience community to inform its position on a coherent 5-19 framework to support future curriculum development, and through the curriculum committee aims to ensure the biology curriculum at all education stages and through all qualification routes is as relevant as possible and prepares students for their next steps in life - whether they go on to study biology at university, use biology in a related career, or use their biology knowledge in their personal life as citizens.

Mapping the biology curriculum

The Royal Society of Biology's curriculum committee began the process of developing the framework by mapping the statements pertaining to biology subject knowledge from across UK curricula against into five big questions, with identified themes within each.

In February 2018 we published a leaflet presenting for the first time 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.

Over the last three years, our Curriculum Committee has further developed our big questions of biology, incorporating practices and thinking, and applications and impact of biology and we have worked closely with our Primary Curriculum Advisory Group (PCAG) to inform the recommendations for the 5-11 age-range. PCAG forms part of our increased engagement with the RSC and IOP in our endeavour to align our individual frameworks.

2022 and beyond

Beyond publication of our curriculum framework, we intend to 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 will 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.


For more information please contact Helen Mitchell, Education Policy Officer.