In focus: Natural history in the making

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In focus: Natural history in the making

In April 2022 our UK awarding body, OCR, celebrated the announcement that a new GCSE in Natural History can be taught to 14- to 16-year-olds from 2025.

The Department for Education in England agreed to the proposals following a decade-long campaign led by naturalist Mary Colwell and strong support in recent years from Cambridge University Press & Assessment.

Pupils will develop a rigorous understanding of the natural world: from their own local wildlife, environment and ecosystem to critical global challenges such as climate change, biodiversity and sustainability.

The move is the culmination of a lengthy campaign from environmentalists and politicians, which was then taken up by Tim Oates CBE, our head of research. The campaign was backed by our qualification expertise as well as evidence from a consultation run by OCR and our Assessment Research Division in summer 2020, involving more than 2,500 teachers, students and environmental experts.

“A brilliant addition to the learning young people receive on climate education.”


Global adventurer Bear Grylls

As Mary Colwell said, “A GCSE in Natural History could be a game-changer for the nature of Britain. Everyone will have the opportunity to be nature-literate, to learn about British wildlife and how it relates to the rest of the world, which is essential for a sustainable, green future.”

Eden Project co-founder Sir Tim Smit said: “This decision is one of the most exciting things that has happened in education in the last thirty years. Seeing the world through the lens of the natural world will transform our wider understanding and empathy for the interconnection between all living things.”

The new GCSE reflects how we are continually looking across our portfolio to innovate and create new qualifications that are as relevant as possible to the interests of today’s students.