Current climate education is inadequate: Why we’re supporting Teach the Future

The Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill has just had its second reading in the House of Lords, and Teach the Future, a campaign to make education on the climate crisis mainstream in the curriculum, is campaigning in support of this bill, which Lord Jim Knight brought forward.

 

The Minister of the Department for Education unfortunately did not support the bill during the second reading, but we hope that the campaign can gain the support of the Department for Education before the committees stage of the bill. Green Squirrel are supporting this campaign because:

 

  • Through our work with schools we know that the current curriculum is not fit for purpose when it comes to the climate crisis, and neither pupils, teachers, nor the wider school community are supported to understand the climate crisis’s causes, impacts, and solutions. The recent criticism of BBC Bitesize’s climate materials (since removed) listing a range of benefits of climate change including ‘healthier outdoor lifestyles’ and easier access to oil, is just one recent example of this. 
  • Young people will live with the decisions made today, and need to be equipped with the skills to live and work in a warming world, while contributing to the solutions to the climate crisis, ecological breakdown, and social injustice. 
  • Pupils and staff deserve a learning environment that’s safe, comfortable, and future-proofed. School environments should contribute to net-zero goals and offer opportunities for outdoor learning. 

The bill would bring forward more suitable climate education by making three fundamental changes to the Education Act 2002:

 

  1. By revising what is seen as a “balanced and broadly based curriculum” to be a curriculum that “instils an ethos and ability to care for oneself, others and the natural environment, for present and future generations.”
    This amendment would ensure that showing care for other people and the planet is an essential part of young people’s learning, including showing concern for people around the world, which is an integral part of learning about and pushing for climate justice. 
  2. It makes the provision of education on sustainable citizenship part of the curriculum for all secondary school pupils, with guidance given by the Secretary of State. 
  3. It makes changes to the meaning of the subject “citizenship” in Key Stage 1 to add lessons that promote learning about protecting and restoring natural environments. This addition to the Citizenship course would include learning about the climate emergency and climate justice, but it would not be limited to this.
    This change to the meaning of citizenship would ensure that students in this lesson would learn about the deterioration of natural environments and how to protect and restore them, bringing up how to take care of environments and people living in them. 

These provisions would be a massive step forward in teaching students about the climate crisis and climate justice, promoting care for the environment and other people concerning the climate crisis. Because of the importance of this bill, Teach the Future has organised a letter for other organisations to sign, to ask Gavin Williamson to support the Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill. Green Squirrel is one of the signatories of this letter, and we are keen to show our support and encourage more organisations to sign before the Committees stage of the bill in the House of Commons.

 

If your organisation would like to add your name to the letter, please email hello@teachthefuture.uk with the signatory’s name, their role in the organisation, and the organisation’s name, with the subject line “Education (Environment and Sustainable Citizenship) Bill letter”. 

 

We agree with Lord Jim Knight – you can watch his speech introducing the bill here – that supporting this bill is a no-brainer. If you’d like to support Teach the Future you can made a donation to their campaign here. 

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