Science A-Levels in the UK
Science is now considered a practical subject across all A-Level examination boards in the UK. As a result students are expected to develop their practical skills throughout their A-level courses. These practicals are designed to help the theoretical learning of each science A-Level and ultimately prepare students for further science study.
When students have the opportunity to attend regular practical sessions alongside their theoretical training (in the school or college setting) they are able to develop the skills that form the practical endorsement section of the A-level grade. With up to 15% of the final exam mark being based on the practical work these sessions also help students attain the highest grades and support University applications for science based subjects.
Distance learning students studying science A-Levels
For some students however it is not possible to develop practical work alongside their A-Level science lessons. This might be due to a small cohort/school size, mature students not having access to school facilities or distance learning students who cannot access a centre close to them.
In response to requests from students and examination centres, BioGrad had designed a fully immersive laboratory based practical endorsement that supports all the requirements of the assessed practicals for OCR, AQA and Edexcel.
The below programmes have been developed by real research scientists and qualified assessors with input from exam officers to fulfil all criteria of the A-level practical endorsements. On top of this the scheme goes a step further, instead of simply fulfilling the minimum requirements, students attending their assessed practical endorsement at BioGrad will receive 2 full weeks of laboratory training where they will be taught in real laboratories on real equipment. All sessions are taught in very small group sizes so that students have the opportunity to spend quality time with the scientists and have time to make (safe) mistakes, learn and try again until they are confident in their work. In addition to the world-class practical opportunities BioGrad is also an approved Duke of Edinburgh Award Activity Provider, meaning that students may use any one of the 5 day assessed practical courses as their DofE Gold residential award. As with all BioGrad courses students will receive photo evidence of their time in the real laboratories which they can use to develop a professional social media profile and a reference that will support job and university applications.
Each subject runs as 2 x 5 day courses which can be attended consecutively over 2 weeks or separated by a period of months. In addition to the day time laboratory programme students who select to attend the course as a residential will be expected to participate in the additional science based evening activities. These are designed by our science assessors to help develop skills for exams and are free to join. Activities will include case study evaluations, oral and poster presentations and exam preparation.
Why is BioGrad different?
Please be aware that there are other schemes that offer the assessed practical endorsements throughout the UK. Many of these providers will run through the minimum number of required practical lessons and minimal time in a school or university ‘teaching’ laboratory.
BioGrad laboratories are world-class research facilities and our courses are held with real scientists. The BioGrad programme is designed for students who wish to invest their time and energy into developing real laboratory skills that will ultimately get them a job whilst also developing their theoretical knowledge to support their A-level studies. These courses are more than just obtaining the minimum requirement to pass. Our staff spend a great deal of time and effort adding ‘extra value’ evening activities, showing students the real experiments that they use in their own work and writing references after the courses.
Between 2018 and 2021 BioGrad will be working with education psychologists from John Moores University to track the progression of our students after they have competed their practical endorsements with BioGrad. We will be establishing best practices for teaching laboratory skills and will be inviting all students who attended these courses to help us in this research by allowing us to follow up with them occasional after they have completed their training.
These opportunities are competitively priced and comparable (if not cheaper) than alternative providers that teach in larger groups, with less contact time, delivered without industrial grade facilities or experienced scientists.
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Courses are available for the below subjects: