Green light for GCSE in Natural History
We’re delighted our plans to introduce a GCSE in Natural History have been approved by the Department for Education (DfE). The new qualification will enable students to develop a rich understanding of the natural world: from their own local wildlife, environment and ecosystem to critical global challenges like climate change, biodiversity and sustainability.
We were approached by naturalist Mary Colwell, who has been spearheading a campaign to address the gap in natural history content in education. Since then we've worked closely with Mary, supporter organisations, teachers, students, naturalists, conservationists and many others with an interest in nature and natural history to address this gap in education. You can read the OCR position statement on 'greening the curriculum' here.
At a Cambridge University Press and Assessment Network seminar in 2021 - 'Exploring nature in education: Developing a Natural History GCSE' - Mary Colwell discussed the lack of understanding of nature and its impact and the important role education can play in overcoming them:
“ GCSE in Natural History would reconnect our young people with the natural world around them. Not just because it’s fascinating, not 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.” - Mary Colwell
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. You can watch the seminar in full here
Higher Education and institutional letter of support
A letter of support organised by Mary Colwell, Professor Yadvinda Malhi and Professor Phil Manning was sent to the Department of Education in support of the OCR Natural History proposal on behalf of 17 different universities with 22 different departments/schools represented. Read the letter here.
In 2020, OCR organised a consultation to help shape early thinking about what a GCSE in Natural History might look like. The consultation was open to everyone and its aim was to seek views on the purpose of Natural History, what Natural History is and explore the key themes the qualification would need, such as conservation, the early world, and the study of flora and fauna. The consultation also sought thoughts on the practicalities and the importance of observing nature in real situations outside the classroom.
We had a huge response to the consultation, with over 2,000 responses, including over 200 responses from young people. You can download a comprehensive report and infographic which summarises the consultation key findings.
We submitted our proposal to develop a GCSE in Natural History to the Department for Education (DfE) on 23rd October 2020. Our proposal was based on findings from the consultation.
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