Lee Wray-Davies, Eco-Schools Manager for England, Keep Britain Tidy.
Eco-Schools, the largest educational programme on the planet are very excited and pleased to announce that in England we plan to accept the proposed OCR GCSE in Natural History as supporting evidence for our international Eco-Schools Green Flag accreditation.
OCR submitted their proposal to develop a GCSE in Natural History to the Department for Education (DfE) in October 2020. The proposal is based on the consultation they undertook in June and July. If the DfE decide to take the proposal forward they will launch their own consultation.
Eco-Schools is a global programme engaging 19.5 million children across 68 countries and for over 25 years have been empowering young people to drive change and improve their environmental awareness through the simple Seven-Step framework.
Our Eco-Schools programme provides a unique opportunity that empowers young people to lead change within their school and have a positive impact in their wider community. The programme encourages students of all ages and abilities to work together to develop their knowledge and environmental awareness. Independent research into the Eco-Schools programme in England found evidence of the positive impacts on students, including increased confidence, development of leaderships skills, improved student well-being and greater motivation at school. To further enhance the impact of the Eco-Schools programme we are now extremely pleased to be working with OCR in the development of the new GCSE for Natural History. If the proposed qualification goes ahead we are also inviting all 3000 registered secondary and sixth form Eco-Schools in England to utilise the content of the Natural History syllabus as evidence for Step 4: Curriculum Links when applying for our Eco-Schools Green Flag.
We have seen thousands of fantastic and innovative topic actions for biodiversity and global citizenship carried out by our Eco-Schools over the years, and believe that a skills section of the proposed Natural History GCSE would allow our Eco-Committees to effectively analyse and evaluate the impact of their eco-actions on their journey to Green Flag whilst also bringing the GCSE to life.
As a former Geography and Environmental Science teacher I believe it is vital we offer more opportunities for young people to investigate and become inspired by the natural world. We must enable them through our teaching to make informed decisions- supported by the theory they have studied in class, as to how they, their peers and their wider school community can protect the planet. Having taught for over 15 years in a heavily urbanised and a diverse community, I am delighted that initial thinking for the proposed Natural History GCSE means the qualification would be just as accessible for those who are not lucky enough to have vast areas of green space in their school grounds or catchment. It would allow young people everywhere to become curious, study and take pride in the local nature that could literally live on their doorstep.
We look forward to seeing the Natural History GCSE development progress and if this goes ahead, it would be referenced as an example of eco-curriculum best practice on Eco-Schools Green Flag applications soon.
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