For the first time ever, young people in the UK will soon be able to choose a specific, climate crisis-focused GCSE.
General Certificates of Secondary Education (GCSEs) are the UK’s national education qualification, usually taken in year 11 (children aged 15 to 16). While everyone must sit GCSE exams in maths, English, and core science, students can choose from a variety of subjects to make up the rest of their qualifications.
Subjects like geography cover climate issues in part. But soon, school children will have the new option of a natural history GCSE, which will focus solely on the planet and how we can protect it.
The UK’s Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi will announce the new GCSE course officially later this week. But school children won’t be able to choose it straight away, as it won’t be available for another three years.
Putting the climate emergency at ‘the heart of education’
The new qualification is part of the Department of Education’s Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy. At last year’s COP26 event (the United Nations’ annual climate-focused conference), Zahawi revealed the new strategy, which aims to “put climate change at the heart of education.”
The strategy includes several new initiatives, including a new National Education Nature Park and a Climate Leaders Award.
The former is a virtual database that aims to help children develop skills in biodiversity mapping and learn about wildlife species. The latter is an annual award that will see young people celebrated for their work supporting biodiversity and the environment in their local communities.
Regarding the new GCSE subject, Zahawi said in a statement: “Sustainability and climate change are the biggest challenges facing mankind. None of us can be in any doubt just how critical they have become.”
“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 to conserve it.”