Nature Conservation: Education

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 26th April 2022.

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Photo of Stuart Anderson Stuart Anderson Conservative, Wolverhampton South West

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Education on ensuring conservation education is taught in schools in England.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

I recently met with DfE's Minister Walker to discuss the importance of increasing children's connection and access to nature and to expand educational opportunities to support green skills and jobs. Defra and DfE worked closely on the Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy which was published on Thursday 21 April. The strategy includes the following commitments where conservation education will play a key role in delivery:

1. A commitment from DfE to increase opportunities for all children and young people to spend time in nature, learn more about it, and get involved in improving their local environment.

2. A commitment to build on the investment into the Children and Nature Programme by engaging with Defra on more research into outdoor learning and how to help schools deliver it. DfE also commit to embedding the learning from the Children and Nature Programme into their two new initiatives - the National Education Nature Park and the Climate Leaders Award. By 2030, they anticipate that participation in the National Education Nature Park, and increased opportunities to connect with nature, will increase the number of young people who become data scientists, ecologists and biologists.

3. A goal to introduce a new natural history GCSE by 2025, which will include developing a deeper understanding of conservation. This will be accompanied by a pathway of learning for children up to GCSE level so that they have the knowledge and skills to undertake the GCSE. This includes a new Primary Science Model Curriculum with an emphasis on nature. This will raise the profile of education on nature and climate change and help to ensure that young people have the right skills to progress into a career in green jobs if they choose to do so.

4. The Strategy recognises the 25 Year Environment Plan as a driver of green jobs and skills needs alongside the Net Zero Strategy and sets out the natural environment training on offer. DfE have also committed to working with Defra to help develop this offer where gaps are identified through the Green Jobs Delivery Group.

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