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UK Government to Introduce GCSE in Natural History


Our Chairman David Hill reflects on this milestone announcement

"I am personally thrilled by this major announcement, an idea developed and promoted by broadcaster and film maker Mary Colwell, a passionate advocate for the natural environment. I learnt all of my natural history and developed my passion for nature as a small child making visits to the countryside on my bike. In those days all schools had a nature table and teachers encouraged us to bring in items of interest - old birds nests, dead beetles, fungi etc.

In the 1970’s that all changed and emphasis was on other things; nature was forgotten. We perhaps shouldn’t be surprised therefore that biodiversity has declined in the UK by over 60% since that time - people dont engage with it and yet they tune in in huge numbers to the fabulous David Attenborough programmes.

The problem is that it can lead to a false sense of nature. Although the programmes are wonderful, does it give us a sense that everything is OK out in the wider countryside? It shouldn’t because it isn’t. Since biodiversity loss is an existential threat to us and our civilisation, it is critical that we all improve our understanding - that is especially important for the young who will become the leaders of the future. And there is currently a dearth of ecologists - we need many more to enter the profession every year to service the significant and rising demand for expertise in natural capital and the natural environment, especially as investments into nature through corporate natural capital disclosure becomes mainstream. Well done Government! I would expect this to be a very popular GCSE indeed."

- Professor David Hill CBE



Reacting to the Education Secretary’s announcement of the launch of a Natural History GCSE and the Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, Environmental Audit Committee Chairman, Rt Hon Philip Dunne MP, said:

“I am delighted that the Government has accepted our Committee’s recommendation to introduce a Natural History GCSE. Nature is in a fragile state in our country and nurturing our next generation of ecologists is critical if we are to turn the tide on the risk of extinctions across our natural world. Fewer and fewer young people are spending time outside appreciating and learning about nature: a formal qualification can help build knowledge and instil a love and respect for the great outdoors. It can help inspire solutions, secure the health of important ecosystems and build our critically important green workforce.

“We were very clear in our reports on biodiversity and ecosystems that we are facing a ticking timebomb of mass biodiversity loss, with the UK the most nature-depleted of G7 countries. This is exactly the right sort of intervention needed to make lasting change and to launch young people who might choose the growing career prospects in ecology and nature.”


To find out more about the creation of the Natural History GCSE and the organisations involved in the process, visit the OCR website.

About the author

Environment Bank