Earth is, as far as we know, the only planet in the Universe where life exists, and it has been a living world for four billion years. Biology is the study of life, and at Alleyn’s we are passionate about understanding and teaching the essential basis of living organisms.
This ranges from the most fundamental biochemistry of genes and the photosynthesis that powers the global environment, all the way to the application of biology to medicine, drug design, veterinary science, synthetic biology, conservation and biotechnology.
We aim to guide our students through the core ideas that govern the living world, and to think about the interconnectedness of nature. But we also want to extend their interest far beyond, including into thinking about how biology shapes behaviour, medicine, ecosystems, and even the search for life on other worlds. We encourage pupils to develop their skills in considering experimental design, in communicating their ideas to broad audiences, and to contemplating the moral questions that modern biology raises: from genetic engineering to climate change to biodiversity.
The Biology Department benefits from teachers with backgrounds in neuroscience, genetics, cancer biology and environmental science, and we are all dedicated to engaging our students on a rich journey of studying life. This includes conservation fieldwork, anatomical dissections, a science Book Club, student-run societies (Bio-Soc and Med-Soc), and successes in CREST Awards and the much sought-after Nuffield University placement scheme, where Year 12 students spend a summer in a lab, conducting top-level research.
Alleyn’s is one of the only schools in the country with a permanent Scientist-in-Residence who helps us to extend our pupils’ experiences beyond the curriculum and into university level biology, and encourages them to understand the broader social and ethical impact of the latest research. That role has been occupied by Dr Adam Rutherford for the past three years, and will continue with consultant anaesthetist and space scientist Dr Kevin Fong in 2018/19. We have also welcomed a varied range of speakers for public lectures and seminars, including fertility expert Lord Robert Winston, geneticist Professor Steve Jones, palaeontologist Ben Garrod, and psychologist Sarah Jayne Blakemore, who specialises in teenage brain development and has engaged many of our pupils in her experimental work.
We firmly believe that biology is a vital and thrilling science, that not only is the root of understanding our living world, but is the basis for many of the dominant industries of the 21st century.