Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi has promised to put the fight against climate change "at the heart" of education in England. During his speech at the recent COP26 in Glasgow, he spoke about plans for a new 'model science curriculum', due to be in place by 2023 as well as his vision for "all children to be taught about the importance of conserving and protecting our planet".
Teachers will be supported to deliver world-leading climate change education through a model science curriculum, which will be in place by 2023, to teach children about nature and their impact on the world around them. Children and young people will also be encouraged to get involved in the natural world by increasing biodiversity in the grounds of their nursery, school or college by taking small steps like installing bird feeders. They will be able to upload their data onto a new, virtual National Education Nature Park – which will allow them to track their progress against other schools in the country, increase their knowledge of different species and develop skills in biodiversity mapping. They will also be able to undertake a new Climate Award in recognition for their work to improve their environment, with a prestigious national awards ceremony held every year. The Climate Leaders Award will help children and young people develop their skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability and celebrate and recognise their work in protecting the local environment. Pupils and students will be able to progress through different levels of the award, ‘bronze’, ‘silver’ and ‘gold’, in a similar way to the Duke of Edinburgh Awards.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “We want to deliver a better, safer, greener world for future generations of young people and education is one of our key weapons in the fight against climate change. Empowering teachers in every school to deliver world-leading climate change education will not only raise awareness and understanding of the problem, but also equips young people with the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable future.
“And it goes beyond the classroom – the National Education Nature Park and Climate Leaders Awards will let pupils get hands on experience of understanding, nurturing and protecting the biodiversity around them.
Today’s measures will also build on government’s pledge for every new school delivered under the Department’s school rebuilding programme to be cleaner, greener and net-zero in operation.”
In addition, from December 2021, all Further Education (FE) teachers trained via an apprenticeship will be required to integrate sustainability into their teaching, through modelling sustainable practices and promoting sustainable development principles in relation to their subject specialism.
These measures, brought together in a draft sustainability and climate change strategy, will be built on over the next 6 months in collaboration with young people, educators, sustainability experts and environmentalists before the final publication of the strategy in April 2022.
Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Alliance, commented: "We firmly believe that children and young people should be at the heart of tackling climate change and improving the sustainability of our planet, and so we welcome the news that this vital issue is to receive a greater focus within the Department for Education.
"There is no doubt that the early years has a crucial role to play in ensuring that the next generation has a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility, and we know that many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are already leading the way when it comes to climate and sustainability education.
Purnima Tanuku OBE, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA) said: “We welcome the Secretary of State’s announcement putting climate change at the heart of education. Nurseries across the UK and their practitioners already do an awful lot of work with children encouraging them to respect and care for nature, understanding the importance of recycling and learning about the environment they live in. “It’s so important for our youngest members of society to learn how to care for our planet and grow into responsible adults.”
Read the full news story on the government website here.