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Volume 409: debated on Friday 18 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what recent representations he has received from the Field Studies Council about the inclusion of fieldwork in the GCSE and A-level curricula; and what response he has made; [125266](2) what provision is made for field work within the curricula for

(a) science GCSE and (b) biology A-level; and whether in each case that provision is optional. [125267]

A number of letters have been received from members of the Field Studies Council in recent months, in particular following the publication of their joint report with the British Ecological Society 'Teaching biology outside the classroom: is it heading for extinction?' last November,.Correspondents have been reassured that there is no question of fieldwork being dropped from the curriculum and that its use as a method of teaching both GCSE science and A-level biology will continue to be encouraged by the Department. The choice of how best to deliver the curriculum, however, remains with each school.The Department's "Growing Schools" initiative continues to work with schools to develop and to disseminate best practice in the use of the outdoor classroom in many curriculum subjects, and in science and geography in particular. Tony Thomas, Chief Executive of the FSC, has recently agreed to join the Growing Schools advisory group.