The Student Room Group

A new GCSE to be offered: Natural History

New GCSE in natural history will focus on saving the planet | News | The Times

In my honest opinion, it should've gone into the geography curriculum (mainly) instead of making a new GCSE - from the article I think it makes sense to have parts of it in Biology and Chemistry.

I'd imagine it'd go under the humanities/geography department anyway and fall to the geography department to teach it should there be a lack of natural history teachers?

It also feels like one of those subjects (ie Human Biology) that won't look good when taken with another - in this case Geography and in HB's case Biology.

Interested to know other people's thoughts?
I agree with you. It's basically geography content with a few other things under a different name, so it seems like a waste of time.
Original post by SagaciousSag
I agree with you. It's basically geography content with a few other things under a different name, so it seems like a waste of time.

Wonder when the DofE will start spending time on worthwhile projects
Original post by AmIReallyHere
New GCSE in natural history will focus on saving the planet | News | The Times

In my honest opinion, it should've gone into the geography curriculum (mainly) instead of making a new GCSE - from the article I think it makes sense to have parts of it in Biology and Chemistry.

I'd imagine it'd go under the humanities/geography department anyway and fall to the geography department to teach it should there be a lack of natural history teachers?

It also feels like one of those subjects (ie Human Biology) that won't look good when taken with another - in this case Geography and in HB's case Biology.

Interested to know other people's thoughts?


Why is it problematic for you that there has been a new GCSE specification and qualification developed?
Original post by Reality Check
Why is it problematic for you that there has been a new GCSE specification and qualification developed?

It's not problematic to me, we could make loads more GCSE subjects, that's not the issue for me. For me the issue is it doesn't seem worthwhile for me having a whole subject devoted to Natural History when all schools offer Biology, Chemistry and Geography, which this subject fits underneath - it's not the fact that one has been made, it's the fact that this qualification seems useless.
Original post by AmIReallyHere
it's not the fact that one has been made, it's the fact that this qualification seems useless.

I don't want to sound rude, but don't you think that an awful lot of rather clever people have spent much time in thought, research, consultation and planning in order to develop and deliver a new specification? Isn't it rather, erm, simplistic to suggest that 'this qualification seems useless'? :erm:

Your argument seems to be that this qualification is 'useless' because parts of it also appear in other existing subjects? Lots of maths appears in mechanics in physics, so should we get rid of that part of physics? Or that part of maths? Clearly, one of them must be redundant as the content repeats itself.
Original post by Reality Check
I don't want to sound rude, but don't you think that an awful lot of rather clever people have spent much time in thought, research, consultation and planning in order to develop and deliver a new specification? Isn't it rather, erm, simplistic to suggest that 'this qualification seems useless'? :erm:

Your argument seems to be that this qualification is 'useless' because parts of it also appear in other existing subjects? Lots of maths appears in mechanics in physics, so should we get rid of that part of physics? Or that part of maths? Clearly, one of them must be redundant as the content repeats itself.

I think it’s just more the fact that so much time and money has gone into this than more worthwhile things
Seems fine. Wish we could've had an option like that when I did my GCSEs, seems like it would've been enjoyable. In the end since GCSE option subjects themselves aren't very important, as opposed to just whatever grade you get in them, it seems like much ado about nothing to object so strongly to it as above...
Original post by sciencegcsesss
I think it’s just more the fact that so much time and money has gone into this than more worthwhile things

But, again, that seems to rest on a value judgement that this isn't 'worthwhile' somehow.

To be honest, this topic (not just your response) smacks of a typical TSR thread which has to weigh and evaluate all qualifications for 'worth' or 'hardness vs softness' according to arbitrary, and often snotty, criteria. Chemistry ✔︎ English literature ✔︎ Maths ✔︎ sociology ×
Original post by Reality Check
But, again, that seems to rest on a value judgement that this isn't 'worthwhile' somehow.

To be honest, this topic (not just your response) smacks of a typical TSR thread which has to weigh and evaluate all qualifications for 'worth' or 'hardness vs softness' according to arbitrary, and often snotty, criteria. Chemistry ✔︎ English literature ✔︎ Maths ✔︎ sociology ×

Considering that I'm planning on taking Sociology for A-level and currently take Film Studies for GCSE, I don't give any credit to "hardness vs softness"

You don't sound rude at all, I agree with you on that it may be simplistic to suggest and demean many clever people's work but unless they're planning on changing certain aspects of the system, adding it to Geography, Biology and Chemistry makes the most sense since they're offered to all schools, at the end of the day unless this becomes a subject that all schools offer it means that some students will never have the chance to learn it as opposed to having it part of their core GCSE knowledge

I suppose we shall see next week when they launch it
Original post by Reality Check
I don't want to sound rude, but don't you think that an awful lot of rather clever people have spent much time in thought, research, consultation and planning in order to develop and deliver a new specification? Isn't it rather, erm, simplistic to suggest that 'this qualification seems useless'? :erm:

Your argument seems to be that this qualification is 'useless' because parts of it also appear in other existing subjects? Lots of maths appears in mechanics in physics, so should we get rid of that part of physics? Or that part of maths? Clearly, one of them must be redundant as the content repeats itself.

But I'm saying that all of the specification (based from the article and what they've said on it) could be placed underneath those three subjects - only part of Physics and Maths overlap, it's not the same situation. If we did remove that part in one subject what would it change to be fair?
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by AmIReallyHere
Considering that I'm planning on taking Sociology for A-level and currently take Film Studies for GCSE, I don't give any credit to "hardness vs softness"

I'm glad to hear you're not one of the SOFT SUBJECT!!! brigade - as you probably know, this is a bit of a trope, chez TSR :smile:.

but unless they're planning on changing certain aspects of the system, adding it to Geography, Biology and Chemistry makes the most sense since they're offered to all schools, at the end of the day unless this becomes a subject that all schools offer it means that some students will never have the chance to learn it as opposed to having it part of their core GCSE knowledge



Yes, you make a good point, in that removing the subject material from more widely-taught, 'mainstream' subjects like Geography results in this learning and knowledge disappearing from the available curriculum. Hopefully any elements of this which pre-exist in Geography etc will remain there, and not be harvested into the new GCSE. It would, of course, be nice if all schools were able to offer their students all subjects, but practically they aren't, and never have been. Latin, Ancient Greek, further Maths - all these are routinely unavailable.

The people to feel sorry for here are geography teachers, who will undoubtedly get lumbered with having to plan to teach a new GCSE with precious few resources provided by the Board. It might end up as a bit of a pass-the-parcel.
Original post by Reality Check
I'm glad to hear you're not one of the SOFT SUBJECT!!! brigade - as you probably know, this is a bit of a trope, chez TSR :smile:.




Yes, you make a good point, in that removing the subject material from more widely-taught, 'mainstream' subjects like Geography results in this learning and knowledge disappearing from the available curriculum. Hopefully any elements of this which pre-exist in Geography etc will remain there, and not be harvested into the new GCSE. It would, of course, be nice if all schools were able to offer their students all subjects, but practically they aren't, and never have been. Latin, Ancient Greek, further Maths - all these are routinely unavailable.

The people to feel sorry for here are geography teachers, who will undoubtedly get lumbered with having to plan to teach a new GCSE with precious few resources provided by the Board. It might end up as a bit of a pass-the-parcel.



I've had my Physics teacher say, "Well... it's not a real GCSE..." when I've mentioned Film Studies in the past so it's not just TSR :frown:

Looking back, it was silly of me to say it was completely useless (as well as come across quite strongly when it has minimal impact on the world - I suppose me doing my GCSEs right now makes it seem bigger to me than it actually is), it will have its uses, and even sillier of me to base a whole argument on that. But if you're trying to teach all kids about climate change, putting it under a niche GCSE subject will not achieve that. In fact it will even stop some children due to their school not being able to offer it and since Natural History will exist, the Geography curriculum will not be improved nor will any other subject that should be changed in order to accommodate climate change education. And I'm sure it will be brought up whenever someone asks "Oh, what are you doing to increase climate change education?" when in practice it will most likely do very little.

For a subject that everyone deems as a "stick and colour in" subject, I can't imagine many geography teachers will be glad to be lumbered with it - especially if like at my school you don't actually get paid extra for teaching 2 GCSEs...
Original post by AmIReallyHere
I've had my Physics teacher say, "Well... it's not a real GCSE..." when I've mentioned Film Studies in the past so it's not just TSR :frown:

Looking back, it was silly of me to say it was completely useless (as well as come across quite strongly when it has minimal impact on the world - I suppose me doing my GCSEs right now makes it seem bigger to me than it actually is), it will have its uses, and even sillier of me to base a whole argument on that. But if you're trying to teach all kids about climate change, putting it under a niche GCSE subject will not achieve that. In fact it will even stop some children due to their school not being able to offer it and since Natural History will exist, the Geography curriculum will not be improved nor will any other subject that should be changed in order to accommodate climate change education. And I'm sure it will be brought up whenever someone asks "Oh, what are you doing to increase climate change education?" when in practice it will most likely do very little.

For a subject that everyone deems as a "stick and colour in" subject, I can't imagine many geography teachers will be glad to be lumbered with it - especially if like at my school you don't actually get paid extra for teaching 2 GCSEs...

This is what I like about you - you're reflective, and intellectually flexible. I completely agree with your sentiment here, and you're quite right that putting climate change into a new subject which may have limited reach is obviously not the best way to go about things. I have to hope that geography and other relevant subjects will have it included wherever possible. In practice, good teachers of relevant subjects would always try to incorporate things like climate change where it 'fits in' - for instance, there are several 'places' in biology where it fits. The problem there, of course, is that not all teachers are 'good' teachers...

For a subject that everyone deems as a "stick and colour in" subject, I can't imagine many geography teachers will be glad to be lumbered with it - especially if like at my school you don't actually get paid extra for teaching 2 GCSEs...

. Poor old geography - it's always been known as the 'colouring in' subject :laugh: Mind you, my subject - biology - has always been known as the 'flowers and ponies' arm of the science triology.
I personally have little to no strong feelings on it. I think it's nice that people get to do it and I think the content is valuable but I don't know whether schools will feel incentives to offer it at their school/pupils will want to take it up. So I don't know whether this will increase knowledge on climate change as much as it's intended to, as above I think it'd be better to also have some (because I don't think all of natural history can be neatly placed under the other related gcse subjects) of the content in the other subjects - like the compulsory sciences. although I appreciate that there's been quite a bit of changes in gcse and a level curriculum recently...

I've seen mixed opinions on it on edu Twitter (don't ask me what I'm doing on there/reading loool)
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by Obolinda
I personally have little to no strong feelings on it. I think it's nice that people get to do it and I think the content is valuable but I don't know whether schools will feel incentives to offer it at their school/pupils will want to take it up. So I don't know whether this will increase knowledge on climate change as much as it's intended to, as above I think it'd be better to also have some (because I don't think all of natural history can be neatly placed under the other related gcse subjects) of the content in the other subjects - like the compulsory sciences. although I appreciate that there's been quite a bit of changes in gcse and a level curriculum recently...

I've seen mixed opinions on it on edu Twitter (don't ask me what I'm doing on there/reading loool)

edu Twitter is the home of pedagogy - a pretty good corner of Twitter actually :smile:
Original post by Reality Check
This is what I like about you - you're reflective, and intellectually flexible. I completely agree with your sentiment here, and you're quite right that putting climate change into a new subject which may have limited reach is obviously not the best way to go about things. I have to hope that geography and other relevant subjects will have it included wherever possible. In practice, good teachers of relevant subjects would always try to incorporate things like climate change where it 'fits in' - for instance, there are several 'places' in biology where it fits. The problem there, of course, is that not all teachers are 'good' teachers...


Sadly GCSE content will always trump supercurricular content

Original post by Reality Check


. Poor old geography - it's always been known as the 'colouring in' subject :laugh: Mind you, my subject - biology - has always been known as the 'flowers and ponies' arm of the science triology.


How did biology get that title, it seems to be the coolest one to me o:
Original post by AmIReallyHere
How did biology get that title, it seems to be the coolest one to me o:

Sour-faced chemists and physicists, I think.
Original post by Reality Check
This is what I like about you - you're reflective, and intellectually flexible. I completely agree with your sentiment here, and you're quite right that putting climate change into a new subject which may have limited reach is obviously not the best way to go about things. I have to hope that geography and other relevant subjects will have it included wherever possible. In practice, good teachers of relevant subjects would always try to incorporate things like climate change where it 'fits in' - for instance, there are several 'places' in biology where it fits. The problem there, of course, is that not all teachers are 'good' teachers...


. Poor old geography - it's always been known as the 'colouring in' subject :laugh: Mind you, my subject - biology - has always been known as the 'flowers and ponies' arm of the science triology.

Must thank you for the compliment as well! I don't think I'd have reached half the conclusions I do without people knowing some sense into me
Very polite way to say indecisive :colone:
Original post by AmIReallyHere

How did biology get that title, it seems to be the coolest one to me o:


Seeing as AQA have taken half the biology including evolution off the GCSE trilogy paper this year, they disagree with you. Biology teachers up and down the country are heartbroken.

Anyway, I see no real problem with this GCSE in theory, I just suspect the uptake will be small. How many schools actually offer the existing geology or astronomy GCSEs?
Original post by Crazed cat lady
Seeing as AQA have taken half the biology including evolution off the GCSE trilogy paper this year, they disagree with you. Biology teachers up and down the country are heartbroken.

Anyway, I see no real problem with this GCSE in theory, I just suspect the uptake will be small. How many schools actually offer the existing geology or astronomy GCSEs?

It does have a lot of content though! I mean half of biology might be close to the entirety of physics

It's the small uptake that I feel will be the issue, because if people ask for expansion of the curriculums, I'm sure they'll be met with "Okay, well offer the Natural History GCSE then"

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