The Department for Education has launched its Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which includes the launch of a new Natural History GCSE. This follows previous commitments to make all education establishments Net-Zero Carbon in operation.
New curriculum options for natural history, carbon literacy training for schools and academic institutions and the development of new skills-based programmes focused on climate and nature are all set to be introduced by the Government in a bid to make the UK education sector “a world leader in climate change by 2030”.
The new qualifications will become GCSE options by September 2025 to equip children with new ways of learning about the environment, the climate crisis and sustainability. This will facilitate the learning of new skills that help young people develop a career in relevant environmental sectors, ranging from observation and analysis through to field studies. The government also plans to accelerate the rollout of carbon literacy training to support at least one sustainability lead in every locally maintained nursery, school, college, and university.
Nadhim Zahawi, Education Secretary said ”We are delivering a better, safer, greener world for future generations and education is one of our key weapons in the fight against climate change. The entrepreneurial, can-do spirit of this country makes me confident that we will win this fight.”
“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that young people are already very committed to a more sustainable planet. We should be proud of this, and I want to do everything I can to encourage this passion so they can be agents of change in protecting our planet. 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 strategy also reiterates the commitment to the development of the National Education Nature Park that will help children and young people to get more involved in the natural world which was announced at COP26. Children and young people will also be able to undertake a new Climate Award in recognition for their work to improve their environment, with a prestigious national awards ceremony held every year.
It has long been felt that the Government was failing to effectively encourage sustainability with young people with many believing that the climate and environment-related content currently on curriculums is not good enough to support students into further study or related careers.
Providing adequate funding for action will support young people to gain a deeper knowledge of the natural world around them and prepare for careers to support the climate crisis into the future.