Biology has always been a popular subject at Dauntsey's and the Biology Department has a long history.
It came into existence in 1929 when the Farmer Laboratory (now Hemens and Farmer Day Houses) was built. It was one of the first purpose-built school Biology Departments in the country. Biology of a very different sort to that taught today was studied and full use was made of the rich natural history resources of the surrounding Wiltshire countryside. There was a flourishing School House Natural History Society which collated a mass of data on local flora and fauna some of which is housed in the Devizes Museum and our own archives in the school library.
We currently teach Biology to all pupils in the first five years: for two periods a week in the First and Second Forms, for three periods a week in the Third Form and for three or four periods a week in the GCSE years, depending on option choice. The IGCSE course (EDEXCEL) is started in the Third Year and is finished in the Fifth Form, when pupils sit one or two final examination papers. Triple Award pupils sit two papers and Double Award pupils sit one paper.
The Biology department have now changed to the AQA syllabus and we typically have some 45-60 students taking A-level Biology, making us one of the largest and most popular options at this level. Sixth form students conduct field work in and around Dauntsey’s, the Manor woods, Studland Beach and Kimmeridge Bay as part of their studies. There is a great deal of laboratory work of course and dissections, observations of living animals, micro-biology, forensics, genetic crosses (breeding Drosophila or fruit flies) are just some of the fields that we carry out practical work within.
We are a large teaching department made up of a diverse range of specialists with special focus in fields such as: psychology, ecology, physiology, molecular genetics and neurology. The staff workroom is manned throughout the day and pupils always have access to specialist advice and help either directly or by e-mail. The department takes particular pride in providing an enjoyable and supportive learning environment for all pupils.
The laboratories are of an excellent standard and provide the ideal learning environment. Each of the four laboratories is spacious and well appointed. All have interactive whiteboards and projection facilities. There are two large greenhouses to provide both decorative plants and material for experimental work. There is a large preparation and storage room as well as a specialist library and projects room. The corridors are light and airy, and provide space for a range of displays in illuminated cabinets provided by the Old Dauntseians Association.