Scotland Parliamentary Reception and Updated Asks

Alyson MacKay
March 29, 2023

On the 22nd of March 2023 our Scotland team was proud to introduce and present our updated asks to MSPs (Members of Scottish Parliament), councillors, students, teachers, and other stakeholders within the education and climate justice movements. 

The event was a huge success, and we are so proud to share our updated asks with the world. 

Our updated asks are:

ASK 1: Mainstream inclusion of climate justice education across the curriculum

ASK 2: Inclusion of the climate emergency and ecological crisis in teacher education and a new professional teaching qualification

ASK 3: Increased priority for sustainability in school inspections

ASK 4: Educational buildings put at the front of the queue to be retrofitted to net-zero standards

You can read a detailed version of the asks and process here.  

As well as presenting our own asks, we also had speeches from relevant stakeholders and supporting organisations. These included, Ross Greer MSP; Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP and Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills of Scotland; Pete Higgins, Learning for Sustainability Scotland; Ellie Gomersall, President of NUS (National Union of Students) Scotland; Alexander Carter, teacher at Falkirk High School and Lily Henderson, FFF (Fridays For Future) Scotland. The need for action now was reflected by all of our event speakers.

Ross talked about some recent positive developments in the Scottish education system. He went on to talk about the importance of having young people involved with the climate justice movement, “At 15, I knew that climate change would be defining challenge of my adult life” - Ross Greer, MSP

Shirley-Anne talked about the progress of Learning for Sustainability Scotland across the nation and its connections to the Teach the Future asks. “I want to assure you that the Scottish Government is taking climate education seriously.” - Shirley-Anne Somerville, MSP

Peter reflected on the growing concern that it is too late to tackle the ecological crisis, "Because you can stare it in the face doesn't mean you can't act." - Pete Higgins, Learning for Sustainability Scotland 

Ellie shared some harrowing statics based on NUS research, including that “37% of students have considered dropping out for financial reasons; 52% have skipped a meal because of lack of money; 21% have missed a class due to travel costs”, all of which demonstrate how our current education system doesn't support access to climate, or any education for all. Ellie went on to add, "Education is a fundamental right but we've got a lot of work to do in Scotland for our systems to reflect that" - Ellie Gomersall, NUS Scotland

"There's a whole cohort of students who leave high school with next to no education on climate change or sustainability... It's not yet embedded in the curriculum in the way that it needs to be." - Alexander Carter, teacher at Falkirk High School

Lily talked about their experiences as a high school student and the way in which climate change is often framed as a problem for the future: "I remember us touching on climate change but it was nowhere near detailed enough... That is entirely wrong, climate change is a NOW issue.” - Lily Henderson, FFF Scotland activist

What some of our team had to say after reflecting on the event and the campaign: 

The scale of support for our asks from government, civil society and most importantly the young people in attendance was encouraging to see. This overwhelming welcome of our asks will give our campaign new strength to hold the government to their word to finally deliver real climate education to Scotland’s learners.” - Michael Heffernan, Ttf Scotland Volunteer 

It was great to see a range of people with different expertise and experience come together in support of climate justice education and our asks” - Maya Hoare, Ttf Scotland Volunteer  

This campaign and this event are just two aspects of a national movement towards climate justice education. Teach the Future Scotland is proud to be a part of the conversation, ensuring young people, educators and guardians are not only listened to but treated as the experts they are when it comes to lived experiences with Scottish education. It’s been a privilege to work on this campaign and organise our Parliamentary Reception, but the work is far from over. I hope many more students, educators and organisations support our campaign and work together to teach the future.” - Alyson MacKay, Ttf Scotland National Organsier

Our team wants to give a huge thanks and appreciation for all the supporters of this campaign. From the volunteers and staff who put to the asks and event together to the politicians and young people who listened. Now is the time for action.