I’ve just had a look at the refreshed ABPI website for schools – and I’m impressed! If you haven’t used this brilliant bank of resources before, now is a good time to try them – as a teacher, a STEM ambassador or a parent with school age children. If you’re an old friend of the site, as I am, I think you’ll enjoy the new layout. It looks clean and uncluttered, and navigation is easy – you can find resources either by topic or by age range.
For me, the ABPI Schools website is a great example of the way an industry can use its resources to enhance teaching and learning. The resources have been developed in close association with teachers and educators, so the focus is always to provide students with something they need and can use. From the early years content, with its simple games and illustrated stories, to the exciting 16+ resources supporting the new A levels, almost everything on this site has a direct relevance to the National Curriculum and/or the exam specifications our students have to get to grips with. Also, because they are not aimed at specific Awarding Organisations – although they aim to cover all of them - they offer students breadth and depth beyond the confines of a particular course.
I think it's really exciting – as well as really useful – to see lots of key biological principles and content not just explained and illustrated but animated as well. Often, a difficult concept becomes clear when you see things moving and working. In my experience, for some students, animations can make the difference between mastering a topic and being left floundering. For example, the resources developed to support the new 16+ course have lots of animations to help students get to grips with some of the complex content which comes at the beginning of an A level Biology course
Although the resources aimed at the 2015 A level specifications are very new, helping students meet the challenges of the reformed courses, much of the content of the ABPI website is the result of many years of investment and development. As a result, the site contains lots of solid, basic, biology, looking at areas such as the heart, diabetes and gas exchange systems which don't change dramatically over the years.
I also like the way science issues from antibiotic resistance to genetic modification, cloning and animal research are introduced. When tackling these types of issues with students, it's really useful to have a resource like this for them to explore. And the activities provided include debates, discussions, poster development and much more – which can make life a lot easier on the planning front! One of the beauties of this resource for me is the way the range of topics, and the levels covered open up lots of possibilities for differentiation in the classroom. If students complete a topic in a lesson, you can find something at a higher level which they can explore independently, offering some stretch and challenge at the click of a button.
When I browsed around the new site I was amazed at the number of topics covered, the different levels of coverage and the quality of the content. Pop-up comments from other teachers and students show I'm not the only one who's impressed. I think everyone will be able to find resources that they can use in their teaching to enhance their student's learning. What's more, it's really easy to download and use any of the diagrams or animations in your own resources – something which can make developing worksheets, support or extension material a lot easier.
As an example of what sustained support by industry can offer teachers and students at every level in any school – providing enhanced learning opportunities for all students– I think this resource is hard to beat!
This blog was written by Ann Fullick MA (Cantab) CBiol FRSB, an education consultant and science writer.