Prince fights for rural GCSE

19th May 2000 at 01:00
THE PRINCE of Wales has given his personal backing to a campaign to save a GCSE course which gives pupils a unique insight into country life.

He recently telephoned Nick Tate, chief executive of the Government's exams regulator, urging him to save GCSE agriculture and horticulture. He has since followed the call with a private letter to Dr Tate stressing the importance of the agriculture course.

This week Prince Charles called for the natural world to be given more respect. In his Reith lecture, broadcast on BBC's Radio 4, he delivered a fierce attack on biotechnology and warned of the perils of tampering with nature.

He said: "We need to rediscover a reverence for the natural world, irrespecive of its usefulness to ourselves, to become more aware of the relationship between God, man and creation."

The GCSE is one of 30 titles which will be scrapped under plans being considered by the Government's exam advisers.

The Qualifications and Curriculum Authority proposes many work-related exams be dropped, following a review aimed at streamlining the system for courses starting in September 2001. Ministers want vocational courses to replace GCSEs in some subjects. But the plan has angered teachers, who fear bright students will not opt for practical subjects without the kudos of a GCSE.

Around 600 students take farming or "agriculture and horticulture" GCSE.

Hit list, 11

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