Developing a framework for the biology curriculum
The RSB's curriculum committee, supported by the primary curriculum advisory group, primary working group and a student curriculum working group, are developing a framework for a coherent 5-19 biology curriculum.
Why develop a framework?
Over the last ten 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 is 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 are working towards developing a coherent 5-19 biology framework, by mapping the statements pertaining to biology subject knowledge from the current National Curriculum in England 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 has been updated and is 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 so far, and the rationale behind some of the decisions made mapping a coherent curriculum for biology.
Over the last two years our Curriculum Committee has further developed our big questions of biology, incorporating practices and thinking, and applications and impact of biology. We have worked closely with our primary and student working groups, and newly established primary curriculum advisory group (PCAG). PCAG forms part of our increased engagement with the RSC and IOP in our endeavour to align our individual frameworks.
Recent engagement with the community
In 2018 we presented our approach so far and map for a coherent 5-19 biology curriculum at the Salters' Institute Centenary event Framing the secondary science curriculum - where next? and spoke to teachers at July's Inspiring Science Teachers Conference held at IOE and at ASE's November Northern Conference.
We kicked off 2019 with a series of sessions at the ASE annual conference, jointly presented with IOP and RSC and presented our mapping of the curriculum and big questions approach at a number of regional ASE conferences, seeking the views of teachers of science.
2020 and beyond
This year the curriculum committee will be consulting on the detail of our 11 - 19 document while our Primary Curriculum Advisory Group develop recommendations for 5 - 11, with the Society aiming to publish our 5 - 19 suite of documents in early 2021.
We plan also to engage further with RSB's member organisations and other societies in areas related to topics in the biology curriculum as we work towards publication.
In Autumn 2020 we will be opening up applications for new curriculum committee members, seeking the expertise of: Teachers from across the UK, school technicians, Employers, Industrialists, Medics, Vets, Environmentalists, Pharmacologists, Agriculture and young working professionals
This page will be updated regularly with details of upcoming engagement events and consultations on the contents of our framework
For more information please contact Helen Mitchell, Education Policy Officer.