Eastbourne MP asks for GCSE Natural History to be added to the curriculum

The MP for Eastbourne has held a debate in parliament asking for a Natural History GCSE to be put into the curriculum.

Wednesday, 8th December 2021, 8:59 am

Caroline Ansell told MPs she would like the government to consider the subject at key stage 4 level.

She said in the Westminster Hall debate, “It would foster a love of the natural world through field study and a desire to better protect the environment in future generations.

“That love of nature that we want to inspire in the youngest children needs to find progression and continuity in every age and all the key stages of the curriculum.

Eastbourne MP asks for GCSE Natural History to be added to the curriculum

“Ultimately, that will provide them with skills and insight for a future where, as we look to build the green economy, we need to build a green workforce, too.”

Mrs Ansell highlighted the work of the Eastbourne Schools Partnership - now the Coastal Schools Partnership - a group of schools in East Sussex who have formed the Reconnect Group that meets to discuss ways to help young people re-engage with the natural environment.

She said, “This generation has not had the same opportunities as previous generations to enjoy our once rich natural environment. Almost half of UK species are in long-term decline, including key species such as the hedgehog, whose numbers are down 95 per cent since the 1950s.

“We have ploughed up or concreted over large swathes of native habitat in the last century, including 97 per cent of our wildflower meadows.”

Mrs Ansell also argued access to nature is ‘highly unequal’ with one in five children living in England’s most deprived areas spending no time at all in the natural environment.

She added that a survey found 94 per cent of the young people said they would have liked to study the GCSE, and 96 per cent of UK teachers and educators who responded were interested in teaching the qualification.

In response, school standards minister Robin Walker said, “In considering whether to introduce a new GCSE, there are many complex factors that we need to think about.

“I have been very grateful to hear the arguments for this case, and to be given the opportunity to set out some of the work that is already going on in this area.”

Mr Walker finished by thanking Mrs Ansell for ‘her dedication to tackling environmental issues’ and ‘ensuring that every child gets the best start in life’ through work to improve education.