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The new Natural History GCSE

Roots & Shoots is passionate about helping young people make a difference for people, animals and the planet, so we’re very excited about the new Natural History GCSE that’s just been launched. Now more than ever, young people should have the opportunity to connect with nature, and we hope

What and when

The new Natural History GCSE will be launched in September 2025, aimed at key stage 4. It will be organised by the OCR (Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations) who are the awarding body for the qualification.

The OCR have stated that it will help students develop a “rigorous understanding of the natural world” and that it will cover elements such as the environment, the ecosystem and local wildlife though to climate change, biodiversity and sustainability.

Jill Duffy, the chief executive of OCR, has stated that she believes the GCSE will offer young people a deeper engagement with the natural world, and provide them with the tools they need to “understand their environment and grapple with critical challenges.”

”[It will be a] wonderful opportunity for young people everywhere to study and connect with wildlife and the natural world,” she commented.

There are some criticisms though, with several experts commenting that environmental issues should be present across the whole curriculum and not just this one GCSE, and also questioning whether schools are likely to add this to their offering given the number of GCSEs already available.

What subjects will the Natural History GCSE cover?

The exact details of the topics within the curriculum are yet to be revealed, but it will cover at least the following:

  • History and evolution of species
  • Impact of human life on natural environments
  • How the world is changing
  • Climate change
  • Conservation and conservation skills
  • Biodiversity
  • Sustainability
  • Local wildlife

More information on the Natural History GCSE

If you’d like to know more, the following links and news stories will help you. It’s also work keeping tabs on the OCR as they will release further information as it becomes available.

OCR Natural History GCSE

i News: New Natural History GCSE launched

BBC Newsround: New Natural History GCSE launched

Education resources on Roots & Shoots

Of course, you don’t need to wait until 2025 to start engaging students and young people with the environment and conservation; Roots & Shoots groups in schools, colleges, organisations and youth groups up and down the country (and around the world) are already doing this, and inspiring others to make a difference too.

Roots & Shoots has loads of free, downloadable resources and lesson plans for teachers who’d like to start bringing in these subjects to their current teaching, and which will also be very useful for any school which decides to offer the new GCSE. For example, we have lesson plans and activities covering;

Local area mapping – students learn about the history, geography, geology, flora and fauna of their local area.

Water audit – students conduct research to find out how much water is used in their home or school.

Forest Activity – students explore their local forest or woodlands to discover what wildlife lives there.

Where does your food come from – an activity exploring food miles and food seasonality.






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