At a popular Westminster Education Forum event this week on green and climate change education, OCR Chief Executive Jill Duffy, set out the next steps for OCR in delivering a new GCSE in Natural History.
This follows the go-ahead for the introduction of a Natural History GCSE from the Secretary of State Nadhim Zahawi on 21 April. Jill took the opportunity to thank the DfE for engaging, for listening and seeing the value of the proposal OCR submitted in late 2020. She also thanked the passion and commitment of the Natural History stakeholders who have generously shared their expertise with OCR. This included Mary Colwell, who has championed the case for a Natural History GCSE for over a decade, and the members of OCR’s 25-strong Natural History GCSE Strategic Advisory Board.
She said: “What we at OCR are working on now is making sure we’re in a position to translate the ideas we’ve gathered over the last 2 years into a high quality, valid qualification that meets the DfE and Ofqual requirements and offers something new and inspiring to young people.”
The timetable for first teaching the new qualification is by autumn 2025. There are significant consultation stages involved in developing a new qualification which requires time. OCR will also provide a full package to support teachers to deliver a new subject in the classroom that will include textbooks, plenty of engaging resources and sample assessment materials. Thanks to our close collaboration with stakeholders OCR is designing a package that is relevant and accessible for teachers and learners, available in good time before teaching starts.
Jill ended by highlighting the distinct contribution that the GCSE can play in secondary education, quoting the DfE’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy. A natural history GCSE, it states, will give ‘young people a further opportunity to engage with and develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the natural world. In studying this GCSE, young people will explore organisms and environments in more depth, gain knowledge and practical experience of fieldwork and develop a greater understanding of conservation’.
As well as educationalists, the lively Westminster Education Forum event included inspiring case studies from champions of outdoor learning and of building sustainable businesses and careers, as well as policy experts including the DfE’s Head of Sustainability and Climate Change. A common theme was the need to avoid siloed thinking and to collaborate across sectors to deliver real change.
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