Supporting maths for biologists

This project was discontinued, and as a result a report will not be published.

Notre Dame High School will investigate what effect Learning by Questions, used for two terms at the practise stage of their ‘maths skills for biologists’ programme will have on current Year 10 pupils’ attainment in their Year 11 mock exams.


Achievement in science at Notre Dame High School is generally high, and vulnerable pupils make good progress at our school. But pupils find it hard to apply mathematical skills that they have learned elsewhere to biology contexts.

This issue causes further problems later, as many of our pupils go on to study biology at A-level, and are hampered by their maths skills. This is particularly true for the weaker, and more vulnerable pupils, who find it very difficult to catch up at Key Stage 5 (KS5), when the demands have increased significantly across the board.

We should like to support all pupils taking biology at GCSE to improve their maths skills, and we have designed and implemented a structured programme to help do this


The innovation will take place with Year 10 biology pupils currently undertaking their GCSEs. Pupils in both intervention and control classes will carry out the following:

  • A specific maths skill assigned to each KS4 Biology topic
  • Pre-testing of maths skills in biology context.
  • Teaching materials for these skills, which are used across the biology department.
  • Worked examples and practice questions, designed centrally, and used by all biology teachers.
  • Post-testing of maths skills in biology context.

For intervention classes, LBQ will be used throughout the unit to practise specific maths skills. LbQ will be used at least once a fortnight (once every three lessons).

For control classes, paper-based activities will be used to practise specific maths skills.

Each unit consists of 17–20 lessons.

Lead school

  • Notre Dame High School, Norwich

Year levels

  • Year 10


  • Biology


  • 12 months

Download the protocol document