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Department for Education Launches Natural History GCSE

The Department for Education has yesterday launched its Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, which includes the launch of a new natural history GCSE, which will be available by 2025.

Following a grass-roots campaign by environmentalists to get the course on the curriculum, the GCSE will allow young people to better their understanding of the natural world, learning about organisms, environments, and issues of sustainability.

It is hoped that this will help to better equip young people in the UK with the skills to develop a career in sustainability and environmental efforts if they wish to, following warnings from academics that students are currently arriving at university without the basics needed to underpin conservation efforts.

The campaign for the qualification has enjoyed cross-party support in Westminster, including from Green Party MP Caroline Lucas, who said:

“We owe it to our young people to teach them more about the riches of the natural world so they can recognise and appreciate its beauty, understand the scale of the loss we’re living through, and be equipped with the necessary tools to reverse it.”

The announcement was made the day before World Earth Day 2022, the theme of which is ‘Invest in our Planet’, focusing on accelerating solutions to combat climate change and activate everyone, from national governments to local communities to do their part.

Commenting on the new qualification, Secretary of State for Education Nadim Zahawi said:

“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 we can come together to conserve it.”

The wider Sustainability and Climate Strategy from the Department for Education details the role of the UK education sector in becoming a world leader in climate change by 2030. In addition to the GCSE, children will also be able to undertake a new Climate Leaders Award in recognition of their work to improve the environment. The government has said that this will help children and young people to develop their skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability, as well as formally recognising these efforts.

As part of the wider Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, the government will also accelerate the rollout of carbon literacy training for at least one sustainability lead in every locally maintained nursery, school, college and university. The training will support them to develop climate action plans that will bring together and drive activity to improve climate education.

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