The Department for Education has unveiled its plans today to introduce a new natural history GSCE by September 2025, following calls from Conservative Environment Network (CEN) MPs.
The GCSE in natural history is part of the government's new sustainability and climate change strategy for schools. The plans published today include more opportunities for children to learn about the environment, engage with nature and pursue careers in green industries.
CEN MPs, including Caroline Ansell, Siobhan Baillie, and Sally-Ann Hart, had pressed ministers to include the new qualification for young people wanting to learn more about our natural environment and how to protect it, which wasn’t previously part of the government’s plans.
CEN MP Caroline Ansell (Eastbourne) commented: “Eastbourne is blessed with an abundance of nature. From our chalk grasslands to our beautiful coastline, our young people want to protect and conserve our precious environment.
“This new qualification in natural history will give students the opportunity to learn more about nature and wildlife. It will support young people to pursue careers in the green economy and be positive custodians of our planet and local environment.
“This is a lasting achievement for this government and the UK’s presidency of the COP26 climate summit, and one that I have been proud to play a part in working in partnership with OCR. I thank them and Mary Colwell in particular."
CEN MP Siobhan Baillie (Stroud) commented: “I think it's good we are going to teach children about the reality of issues and show them that they can be part of the solutions now and in the future. Better than thinking they have to glue themselves to things or get arrested to tackle climate change.
“So many young people talk to me about the environment in Stroud when I visit schools and students came to parliament a few years ago to lobby MPs about having climate change on the education curriculum.”
CEN MP Sally-Ann Hart (Hastings and Rye) commented: “I welcome the government’s plan to put nature and the environment at the heart of our school curriculum, including through a new qualification in natural history, to equip young people to take up new green jobs and protect our environment.”
CEN Nature Spokesman, Kitty Thompson, commented: "Today's strategy will provide a lasting legacy from the UK's COP26 presidency, which sparked an interest in climate change and our natural environment for so many people across the country.
"Introducing a new natural history GSCE and greater emphasis on teaching young people about climate change is key to preparing them for a greener economy. These measures will give them the skills and knowledge needed to protect our planet and grasp the opportunities offered by the green industrial revolution."