By Melanie Cousins 8th July 2024

We are calling on the new government to develop and implement a clear and ambitious skills for nature plan. Our Chief Executive Mark Castle explains:

Mark Castle, FSC CEO

The UK urgently needs people with the skills and knowledge to combat climate change and biodiversity loss and one of the only ways to nurture and future-proof these skills is to ensure that all young people are given the opportunity to experience high-quality fieldwork.

We need the new government to create an effective National Green Skills for Nature plan that:

  • identifies the skills that the UK needs to combat climate change and biodiversity loss, and that opportunities to develop these skills are firmly embedded right through the curriculum.

The plan should ensure that:

  • high quality fieldwork is embedded in the curriculum and residential fieldwork trips are accessible for all learners throughout their time at school, not just for those that can afford it.
  • fieldwork required in the curriculum equips learners with the skills and knowledge that they need to flourish in their chosen career or study path.
  • there is investment in high quality teacher training and development specifically in fieldwork skills so that teachers can champion fieldwork and its vital place in the curriculum with confidence.

Our charity has been leading the way in residential and day fieldwork trips for those studying biology, geography and other environment-related courses for more than 80 years.

But we fear the next generation of environmental thinkers and innovators are at risk of not being equipped with the right skills and knowledge because of fieldwork being over-looked in the education curriculum and the ongoing challenges schools face in being able to afford school trips which provide opportunities for such skills to be taught.

Young people need a clear pathway to learn, develop and use their skills in ecology, conservation, land management and habitat management restoration but we are continually being approached by young people who have completed their formal education only to find that they lack the relevant fieldwork skills and experience needed for their next career or study step.

We are trying to fill the gap for these skills which are so clearly in demand through our subsidised courses and scholarships, but our funds only stretch so far.

What we need to ensure is that all school learners experience regular, high quality outdoor learning and fieldwork throughout their time at school.

There isn’t a subject on the curriculum that can’t be enhanced by being outdoors and schools need adequate funding to ensure that outdoor learning isn’t left to chance or ability to pay.

They need time to master how to use scientific equipment and deal with messy data so that they can become critical thinkers and problem-solvers.

Fieldwork gives us a real opportunity to engage learners and develop the green skills needed to future-proof a sustainable economy but this will only happen if the new government commits to developing and delivering on an ambitious plan.