The Times reports this morning that the DfE will announce on Thursday that a GCSE in Natural History is to go ahead. This will take place at the launch of the DfE's Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy on Thursday. The optional qualification has been much delayed by internal arguments within the Department, and long anticipated by its supporters. I've already commented once or twice on its desirability. See this, this and this.
From the DfE's point of view it is a cheap way of "doing something" about changing the curriculum to ensure that (at least some) young people can learn about key environmental issues. To its critics, the main point of contention is that only some youngsters will have the opportunity that everyone in the cohort should have.
The Times quotes the Secretary of State: “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.”
And the DfE commented: "This aims to provide children and young people with hope about the future, the solutions that can be developed, the positive action they can take and the careers that they can progress into.”
I wonder how many of the cohort are expected to do this. The DfE isn't saying. But it does not help when supporters talk as if everyone will:
– Tim Smit: “If I was going to be put to death tomorrow and could change one thing it would be that natural history was taught in schools from five to 19. Then people would not do the damage to the planet they do now.”
– Caroline Lucas: “So many meetings and much lobbying, but now young people will learn more about natural world and be better equipped to restore it.”