One month ago today, our Wales team had the opportunity to present our updated campaign asks to MSs (Members of the Senedd), students, teachers, academics, and representatives from youth, environment, and educational organisations, at the historic Pierhead in Cardiff Bay.
The new set of asks that we shared are:
Ask 1: Regular review of the Curriculum for Wales under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and engagement with Professional and Statutory Regulatory Bodies (PSRBs) to update Higher Education course standards
Ask 2: Comprehensive training and resources for all educational practitioners on climate education and climate justice
Ask 3: Reform of school assessments, reinforcing the importance of sustainability in the curriculum and facilitating students developing Education for Sustainable Development competencies
Ask 4: Provisions for climate education and climate justice in school inspections
Ask 5: Educational buildings at the front of the queue to be retrofitted to net-zero standards, linking school retrofit projects to a green skills pipeline, and supporting schools in becoming deforestation free
In addition to presenting our own asks, we also heard speeches from relevant stakeholders and young climate activists who reinforced the key themes underpinning our asks and highlighted grassroots initiatives that are already underway to progress climate education in Wales. Our speakers included Llyr Gruffydd MS, Ele James (GenerationGwent Campaign), Jake Gates (Y-Future Swansea), Lucy Kirkham (Bassaleg School), Rhiannon Hawkins (Association of Child and Adolescent Mental Health), Joe Wilkins (UK Youth for Nature and Wales Council for Outdoor Learning), and the Climate Action Group of the Children’s Commissioner for Wales’ Youth Advisory Panel.
Among the insights shared across the speeches, some especially worth underscoring are: 1) the need to support teachers in delivering effective climate education and in providing emotional support to students coping with eco-anxiety, 2) to go beyond traditional climate education by incorporating climate justice themes that address the unique environmental challenges and barriers faced by marginalised communities and how they intersect with social justice issues, and 3) to build bridges between students in Wales and abroad to encourage young people to work collaboratively on climate change solutions. All speakers emphasised the urgent need to take action on climate education now.
The day following our reception, we had the privilege of attending a student-and-teacher-led climate education conference titled “Teens and Teachers Take on Climate Education,” which took place at Cardiff University. The aim of the conference was to develop a climate education entitlement for all students in Wales, with the intention of sharing the outcomes of the conference with policymakers. The ideas that students came up with for the entitlement strongly resonated with our asks, but also included additional elements which we hope to incorporate into our own asks. These include the right to hear from climate change experts and activists at school, to visit places in Wales where the effects of climate change are particularly visible, and to help students decipher mixed media messages on climate change.
Gaining the support of the Members of the Senedd will be vital in order to successfully translate our policy proposals into legislation and tangible implementation. In the coming weeks, we will have contacted all MSs to encourage them to incorporate our campaign asks in their party manifestos. The reception also provided a space to discuss a number of potential collaborations with our attendees, which we are excited to see through.
All photo credits to Simon Gough Photography