Skip to main content
You are here

Key Stage 4 school visit programme


New programme from 20 March 2017

Our new Key Stage 4 education programme at Kew Gardens is now live! These sessions have been developed and designed for the new GCSE Biology and Geography curricula. These innovative sessions meet the requirements of several exam boards - please see each session outline for full details.

Our aim

Our aim is to ensure that through active participation, questioning and inquiry-based learning we offer pupils opportunities to work scientifically in areas that are difficult or impossible to recreate in the school environment. Our experienced teachers use current relevant Kew projects (local and global) that illustrate key concepts through real-life examples.


Many of our sessions are designed to enable learning progression in key topics through the student’s school life. 


To assess student’s progression, we use a mixture of peer discussion, open-ended questioning, shared experiences, predictions, investigating results and plenaries.

Education sessions

KS4 Biology - Plant Reproduction (45 mins)
Why do some flowers open at night? What is the difference between a spore and a seed? What is a corm? Step into the wonderful world of plant reproduction to investigate these questions.
KS4 Evolution and adaptation
“...from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.” - Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species. Plants have evolved from simple organisms to the many complex and beautiful species we see around us today. How has this occurred? Follow in the footsteps of Darwin and Wallace to explore the theory of natural selection and investigate the factors that can result in speciation.
Nutrient Cycles and Decomposition
Carbon and water are essential for the survival, growth and reproduction of living organisms. How are these elements cycled through our natural systems and what can affect this process? What are decomposers and why are they so important to life on earth?
Photosynthesis and Gas Exchange
'From their humble beginnings plants have become progressively complex and increasingly important to life on Earth' – Will Benson, Kingdom of Plants, 2012. Discover the complex ways plants have adapted to cope with limiting factors such as temperature, humidity or light intensity and the effects of these factors on photosynthesis and gas exchange.
Plant Pathogens, Pests and Diseases
'The two biggest threats of plant health are pests and is estimated that plant pathogens may account for annual crop yield losses of up to 16% globally' (State of the World’s Plants Report, RBG Kew. 2016). What pathogens affect plants and how are they spread? What can we do to reduce or prevent these threats?
KS4 Field Studies (90 mins)
Why is fieldwork important? What are the factors that affect the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how can we measure them? Students discover the rationale behind different field study techniques and are given the opportunity to develop and practice these skills in our Conservation Area.
KS4 Food Security (90 mins)
The world’s population is predicted to hit nine billion by 2050 (United Nations, 2015). How can we ensure that these people have access to a sustainable, affordable supply of food? 80% of the global calorie intake comes from 12 crops, with 50% coming from wheat, maize and rice. What might happen if we lost one of those staple crops?
KS4 Geography - Ecosystems: Desert (45 mins)
Over one fifth of the Earth’s land is covered by desert. What defines a desert ecosystem; why are deserts important and how are they affected by climate or human activity?
KS4 Geography - Ecosystems: Rainforest (90 mins)
The rainforest is one of the most biodiverse and fragile ecosystems on the planet. What are the characteristics of a rainforest ecosystem? Why are our rainforests so vulnerable? Investigate this key global question in the “rainforest” in one of our iconic glasshouses.
KS4 Geography - Natural Resources (45 mins)
'International trade in plants plays a major role in the global economy and is dominated by the agriculture, horticulture and timber industries' (RBG Kew Science Strategy, 2015). Why are plants such an important natural resources? What effect do we have on the biosphere by using plants commercially?