On Wednesday a debate took place under the headline of Natural History GCSE and two of the MPs who took part are both called Caroline and they are also near neighbours. The debate is available here. Caroline Ansell who is the MP for Eastbourne was the first to speak and then a few minutes later Caroline Lucas who is the MP for Brighton Pavilion. They are both close together as the only MP who has a constituency that sits between them is Maria Caulfield from Lewes although Lloyd Russell-Moyle is a bit closer to Caroline Ansell than Caroline Lucas. The following words were expressed in the debate along with other comments but the vital issue is that we need to persuade the two Carolines and indeed Lloyd to work together. Sadly there is no prospect of Maria working together but next week there are some issues that are being debated regarding how the Government can reverse its appalling approach in the Nationality and Borders Bill. On the day that these two local MPs spoke in their debate, a comment was made by Boris Johnson about the Nationality Bill when he stated
The Bill gives us the power to make the distinction at last between illegal and legal migrants to this country, it gives Border Force the power to turn people back at sea, and it gives us the power to send people overseas for screening, rather than doing it in this country
Now it is very obvious that these comments are deeply damaging for both the people who would be impacted and also for the nation in its credibility across the world. Along with Johnson, Priti Patel is focusing on the same evil concepts even though she is the daughter of immigrants. As it happens, next week there are at least two amendments that Caroline Lucas and Lloyd Russell-Moyle will be supporting which will reverse some of the damaging proposals from people like Johnson. We clearly need MPs like Caroline Ansell to vote alongside Caroline Lucas and Lloyd. So here are some of the words expressed last week by the two Caroline’s to indicate they can work together.
Caroline Lucas: I congratulate Caroline Ansell on securing this really important debate. I apologise that I cannot stay for all of it, due to a Select Committee happening simultaneously. Does she share my excitement that, since nature writer and producer Mary Colwell initiated this campaign in 2011, it has gathered more and more support, including among teachers and students? Does she agree that it would help to fill a critical gap in the curriculum by helping students understand the complexities of the natural world, with intensive field study of whole organisms in context, in a way that no other GCSE currently allows?
Caroline Ansell: I thank the hon. Lady for her intervention; she is my near neighbour along the coast. I had the great pleasure and privilege to speak to Mary this week ahead of today’s debate. I am a huge admirer of her work and her passion to see the next generation equipped and empowered for the future that faces them, in terms of both protecting our natural environment and having a great love for that environment, which is important to their wellbeing.
I would like to focus on another point mentioned by the hon. Lady, which is what this unique qualification would bring to the curriculum. An important gap has been identified and worked on by OCR, not least around the knowledge of organisms in their context, as she described, but also around the mix of subject areas where this GCSE could bring such powerful learning. Some have raised concerns that this subject overlaps with other subjects, such as biology or geography, but we see overlap in the curriculum as it stands. We see overlap between economics and mathematics; we see overlap between history and English. Some say overlap, but I might say reinforcement and consolidation. I might say that this triangulates and makes learning more powerful through the experience of encountering common subject matter across different disciplines. So the hon. Lady is right to highlight this subject’s unique and distinct contribution, in both its mix and its content.