Products of Change


Tue 19 Apr 2022 | by Rob Hutchins

BBC Studios, Eden Project and RHS back new natural history GCSE from the DfE

Natural History Museum, BBC Studios, the Eden Project, and the University of Cambridge are just a few of the big name establishments that have offered support for a new natural history GCSE expected to be announced this week. The new qualification will be available from September 2025 with a focus on how pupils can protect the planet by learning about organisms and their environments, as well as environmental and sustainability issues. The new GCSE is expected to be announced by the education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi on Thursday with the hope that it will help pupils “gain a deeper knowledge of the natural world around them.” Those taking the GSCE will also develop skills needed for future careers in conservation, “from understanding how to conserve local wildlife to conducting the fieldwork needed to identify species,” the Department for Education has said. The government has said that the new course would ‘go further’ in teaching pupils about environmental issues through the study of urbanisation in geography and habitats in science, to deepen their understanding about the history and evolution of species and the impact of human activity on natural environments. Zahawi, who is tipped to announce the new GCSE on 21 April as he launches the DfE’s sustainability and climate change strategy, said: “Sustainability and climate change are the biggest challenges facing mankind. “None of us can be in any doubt just how critical they have become. The new natural history GCSE will offer young people a chance to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of this amazing planet, its environment, and how to conserve it.” The Department for Education, said: “The government will work closely with independent experts and a range of stakeholder organisations, exam boards including Cambridge OCR, and Ofqual to develop the detailed content for the GCSE.” It added that the sustainability and climate change strategy will set out to help “young people develop excellent knowledge of STEM and practical opportunities to improve biodiversity and climate resilience.” Among the supporters of the new course are the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, BBC Studios, the Eden Project, and the Natural History Museum. The development of the new GCSE has been in response to calls for better education in natural history among school children. In doing so, the government has worked with supporter organisations, including BBC Studios, the Natural History Museum and more, as well as teachers, students, naturalists, conservationists and many others to address the gap in education. The lack of understanding of nature and its impact and the important role education can play in overcoming them was discussed at a Cambridge Assessment Network seminar by the environmentalist, Mary Colwell, who said: "A GCSE in natural history would reconnect our young people with the natural world around them. "Not just because it's fascinating, nit just because it's got benefits for mental health, but because we'll need these young people to create a world we can all live in, a vibrant and healthy planet." She was joined by Tim Oates CBE, Director of Assessment Research and Development, who discussed the process of developing a proposal for a new qualification. Find out more about the plans and the supporters here.