Proposal for a new GCSE Natural History submitted

Info graphic depicting students at a desk and stating that 94 percent of young people would like or would have liked the option to study such a qualification in Natural History

Last week our UK exam board OCR submitted its proposal for a new GCSE in Natural History to the Department for Education (DfE). The proposal is based on a summary of OCR's findings from a six week consultation it ran over the summer looking at the purpose and content of a potential new qualification in Natural History. 

OCR is very grateful to everyone for taking part in the recent consultation and sharing their expertise and enthusiasm which helped to inform its thinking and the proposal. The DfE decides on the development of any new GCSE and the next step will be for it to consider whether to launch its own consultation. There was a huge response to the consultation, with over 2,000 responses, including over 200 responses from young people. Here is a timeline of the process.

The story so far

The consultation was launched on 4 June 2020 with the support of broadcaster and nature writer Mary Colwell, Eden Project founder Sir Tim Smit, Green Party MP Caroline Lucas and representatives from organisations such as the Natural History Museum and The Wildlife Trusts. Student enthusiasts such as Kabir Kaul and representatives from Teach the Future were also involved in the consultation. 

The campaign for a new GCSE in Natural History started much earlier however. About ten years ago, Mary Colwell began her campaign for a new GCSE. Over the years, she gathered the support of many like-minded people. In 2019, she shared her vision with Tim Oates, our Director of Assessment Research and Development, who helped to explore making that vision a reality. As the momentum grew during 2020, a committed team at OCR worked with Cambridge Assessment colleagues to roll out a consultation and capture the findings that form the basis for the proposals. This was only possible with the ever-growing support of enthusiastic organisations and individuals

We look forward to providing updates on the next steps. You can sign-up for updates on the OCR website.