Dasgupta 1

Posted in: Comment, New Publications

The Dasgupta Review was published last week and can be downloaded.  It has been widely welcomed.  The Review said that schools should “introduce Nature studies from the earliest stages of our lives and revisit them in the years we spend in secondary and tertiary education".  It didn't say what this nature study should be.  No matter, because it won't be too long before someone from the DfE pops up to say that the national curriculum already does this.  The Rt Hon Nick Gibb MP may well already be blowing the dust off some of his earlier announcements.

Dasgupta makes a good job of setting out a compelling case for environmental education without, as I noted above, actually saying what that should be, although he does at one point [ #21.3.4] say that every child should be taught natural history.  He also says that students should be required to attend a course on basic ecology with field studies as part of this as this would be a way to connect students with nature.  Curiously, though, these students are in HE not schools.  It was good to see that NAEE pointed out that if such a course "would be of benefit to students making up less than 50% of the cohort (which it would) – and be of benefit to all of society – it would surely be of value to all the cohort. In which case, perhaps it ought to be a core course in secondary schools that follows on from a firm grounding ... in primary education."

The reference to natural history will have been noticed and probably welcomed at OCR whose proposal for a GCSE in this is currently meandering its way through the DfE's and OfQual's labyrinthine approvals processes.  A persistent criticism of this proposal is that having it available as an option (ie, to be taken by a small minority of students) will take pressure off the DfE to ensure that mainstream biology GCSE programmes are changed so that all the cohort has the chance to learn about such important issues.  After all, the logic of Dasgupta is that it ought to be the right of all and not just a privilege of the few.  It'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications


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