The home of Shooting Times and Sporting Gun

New Natural History GCSE to help young understand natural world

Teaching is planned for September 2022

boy climbing tree

Cambridge Assessment has confirmed that its UK exam board OCR is developing a new GCSE in Natural History, following a consultation open to all parties.

The idea was proposed by conservationist Mary Colwell, who wants “to make nature part of British society again”. She was concerned that young people were becoming increasingly detached from the natural world and began a petition for the Natural History GCSE on the UK Parliament, which quickly attracted over 10,000 signatures, qualifying it for Parliamentary debate.

Long overdue opportunity

Austin Weldon of the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust (GWCT) spoke to Shooting UK. “We welcome the launch of this long overdue opportunity to educate future generations which is pivotal to the future health of the planet. The success of this project hinges upon a balanced and factual representation of wildlife management and this is where GWCT’s scientific research can play a pivotal part.”

A spokesperson for the Countryside Alliance commented to Shooting UK: “This must be taught with a balanced approach to the natural environment, and not used by those with an agenda against rural pursuits and the way our countryside is managed.”

Shooting organisations keen

Shooting organisations have showed their support and are keen to help develop the subject matter. Curtis Mossop of BASC said: “BASC has offered to help develop the syllabus and ensure the course is led by the available science.” He added that shooting needs to be included as it is involved in 66% of rural land management in the UK.

A parent’s view

Shooting UK asked Shooting Times contributor Richard Negus for his thoughts on the subject. He commented: “There is a disconnect between young people and the land. Whilst I greatly welcome this GCSE, education in natural history needs to start from pre-school age. It is a subject that needs to be taught by farmers and true conservationists, it must never shy away from man’s positive and negative impacts or that nature is red in tooth and claw.”

His son, Charlie, age 10, gave a youngster’s opinion. He said: “Nature is beautiful and the best time of your life is being a child, being free and exploring nature and playing in the woods. You need to know about the basics of life to survive, say if you were washed up on a desert island! We have to look after what is all around us so that it looks after us and to do that we must learn and understand about it.”