Draft GCSE lacks plant science

Only 'a bit of photosynthesis' in new biology GCSE.

Plant science: the drive to increase understanding of biodiversity will eradicate ‘plant blindness’ in young people
Plant science: the drive to increase understanding of biodiversity will eradicate ‘plant blindness’ in young people

New science GCSEs need to include more plant science, says an educational consultant who has developed the Science & Plants for Schools secondary programme of work linked to the RHS Rocket Science space project.

The new Biology GCSE, which is at draft stage, will be taught from September 2016 for assessment in 2018. SAPS educational consultant Richard Needham said: "I've got elbow patches on so observational ecological work and activities, getting children out of class and seeing plants in their natural habitats, using microscope skills and understanding the variety of different organisms - we've lost some of that. It's all human biology with a bit of photosynthesis. It's not a basis for understanding biodiversity, food security and energy use."

He said a new GCSE science curriculum would see land-based studies reduced. "My fear is there is not enough plant science. With plant science you do not have the concerns about animal welfare and handling and with the amount of variety in plants."

The recent discussion papers from the industry's Ornamentals Round Table and the RHS's Horticulture Matters included more gardening on the curriculum as asks of the Government.

The first RHS youth ambassador, 10-year-old George Hassall, will launch a campaign this month to show what horticulture can do for young people, with health and well-being a focus.

RHS skills development manager Clare Custance said horticulture can be used to solve 21st century problems such as climate change, the affects of pollution and loss of biodiversity. She added: "Young people are showing 'plant blindness' and don't see horticulture as they pass the park or football stadium." The RHS is looking to design products for gardening using the design and technology curriculum and there is pilot work with the Landscape Institute to redesign aspects of school grounds after a challenge by the head of governors.

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