Our Meetings in Parliament: Bringing Youth Voice to the Table!

Charlie Clift
September 7, 2023

Over the past few months, Teach the Future England have been meeting with lots of MPs and Peers in parliament to discuss our new policy asks and how we can ensure our next government implements them. Currently, climate education in England is not good enough: it is siloed into specific modules of specific subjects, like Science and Geography, and, where covered, often key nuance is missed out. Ultimately, the Department for Education currently leaves it up to teachers to include climate education in their lessons around everything else, meaning every students’ experience is vastly different. Our asks aim to change this:

  1. Our first ask, an update to the Department for Education’s current Climate Change and Sustainability Strategy, would ensure the intentions of the strategy - ensuring access to nature among students and creating climate action plans within schools - are felt on the ground through added targets, deadlines and increased funding commitments.
  2. Our second ask, the implementation of the Climate Education Bill, would put mandatory climate education throughout the curriculum in England and Wales, better ensuring all students receive extensive education on the climate and ecological crises.
  3. Our third ask, integrating climate change into teacher training qualifications, would ensure teachers are properly trained to teach on the climate crisis and are better equipped to support students.
  4. Our fourth ask, retrofitting existing and building new education buildings to net-zero standards, would ensure that schools act as a model for the green infrastructure needed for a just transition, and allow students to view their school as part of the solution.

Students from Teach the Future meeting with Ed Miliband and Bridget Philipson

We contacted and asked to meet with 126 politicians from across all major parties. From the Labour Shadow Cabinet, Nadia Whittome (our bill sponsor) has submitted several amendments around climate education to the Labour National Policy Forum (manifesto group). We’ve met with Ed Miliband and Kerry McCarthy from the Climate Change and Net Zero team, and Bridget Philipson and Stephen Morgan from the Education team, all of whom stated support for our asks, along with these amendments, which makes us hopeful that some of these will make it into the final manifesto.

From the Liberal Democrats, we’ve met with Lord Newby, Leader of the Liberal Democrats in the House of Lords, and Lord Teverson, Lords Spokesperson (energy and climate change), both of whom are fully on-board with our asks and support them being introduced into the manifesto. Our asks have been raised internally, and we are yet again hopeful that at least parts of them will make it into the first draft manifesto.

We were happy to receive a response from Gillian Keegan, Secretary of State for Education. You can view our separate blog to read some key points and her full response.

However, this needs continued pressure! Moving forward, we are looking to use the upcoming general election as an opportunity to hold our future government to account and secure bold commitments in line with our asks. We’ll do this by engaging young people and their parents across the UK, creating a wave of youth pressure towards parliamentary candidates moving into the general election that they can’t ignore.