Natural history GCSE: what is new qualification in climate science, what will it cover, when will it launch?

Climate change will be a key focus of the new natural history qualification announced by the Education Secretary this week

A new natural history GCSE will be launched this week that focuses on teaching pupils how to protect the planet.

The course aims to give young people “a deeper knowledge of the natural world around them” and is set to be formally announced by Education SecretaryNadhim Zahawi on Thursday (21 April).

The new qualification will teach pupils how to protect the plant (Photo: Getty Images)
The new qualification will teach pupils how to protect the plant (Photo: Getty Images)
The new qualification will teach pupils how to protect the plant (Photo: Getty Images)

What will the qualification cover?

Education SecretaryNadhim Zahawi said the new natural history GCSE will educate “the next generation of David Attenboroughs” and will allow secondary school students to learn more about the natural world.

Students will learn about organisms and environments, as well as environmental and sustainability issues, and will also develop necessary skills to embark on a future career in the natural world.

It is understood that climate change will be a key focus of the course and it will help pupils to prepare for future careers in conservation, “from understanding how to conserve local wildlife to conducting the fieldwork needed to identify species”, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

Pupils already learn about environmental issues through the study of urbanisation in geography and habitats in science, but the government said this new course would “go further” in teaching them about the history and evolution of species and the impact of life on natural environments, as well as how they are changing and evolving.

As well as the new course, the government will accelerate the rollout of ultra low carbon emission school buildings, and offer carbon literacy training to one sustainability lead in every nursery, school, college and university.

Announcing the policies, Mr Zahawi said: “We will introduce a natural history GCSE, giving young people a real chance to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of our amazing planet.

“We want to inspire the next generation of David Attenboroughs on the day that he was recognised by the United Nations for his work in preserving our wonderful planet.

“Education is how we will equip young people with the future agency to make a real difference, and the skills they need to look after this precious earth. Education is how we will unlock the unlimited potential of the next generation to make that difference.

“We must not, and I am determined that we will not, give in to despair.”

When will the new GCSE be available?

The new qualification will be available from September 2025 and is one of the first new GCSEs to be launched since the reform of GCSE qualifications in 2017.

The DfE said: “The government will work closely with independent experts and a range of stakeholder organisations, exam boards including Cambridge OCR and Ofqual to develop the detailed content for the GCSE.”

The Education Secretary will also launch a wider Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which will set out to help “young people develop excellent knowledge of STEM and practical opportunities to improve biodiversity and climate resilience”.