Our Teach the Future campaign continues to develop with the work of our brilliant volunteers and student staff. Campaigners in Wales and Scotland have recently relaunched their asks, and presented them at their respective parliaments. Our national organisers Yasmine and Alyson compare here how the branches have contextualised them in their nations.
Teach the Future is a student volunteer-led organisation, which empowers students to change the education system. Students want and need climate justice education now.
As education is a devolved government matter, each nation has different structures and practices. That is why the Teach the Future campaign is divided into branches to allow young people to impact education in their own nation.
Through consultations with students, public bodies, and representatives from educational, youth and environmental organisations across Scotland and Wales, we developed two new sets of policy asks tailored to the educational policy context in each nation. In March and June 2023, our Scotland and Wales teams presented these updated asks to the Scottish and Welsh parliaments, respectively.
In the paragraphs that follow, we will elucidate how our core asks have been conceptualised differently, and how their implementation can vary, within the specific policy contexts of Scotland and Wales.
Mainstreaming climate justice education across the entire curriculum in all educational settings is a key objective of our Welsh and Scottish policy asks, as climate education in both nations continues to be confined to subjects like geography and science.
Leveraging Wales’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Act as a guiding principle for periodically reviewing the provision of climate justice education within the new Curriculum for Wales would subject it to the principles of “integration” and “collaboration”; this could look like a regular review of the new Curriculum for Wales under Wales’ Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and for the government to engage with professional, statutory and regulatory bodies (PSRBs) to make climate education a key requirement for the accreditation of tertiary education courses across all disciplines.
The abolition of the SQA (Scottish Qualification Authority) and the recent Scottish Government national review into school age education, in line with the new vision for education, provides new opportunities for the development of education in Scotland. It is extremely important that climate and biodiversity are distinct strains of education going forward, in all forms of education. We believe this should prepare students to abate and end the climate emergency and ecological crisis and deliver climate justice. Taking inspiration from the 2021 campaign for TIE LGBT Inclusive Education , we want to implement a mainstream approach to climate justice education in Scotland. The particular delivery of this should be carried out by the Scottish Government and COSLA, with insights and support from young people.
In both Scotland and Wales, we have proposed making climate education a core requirement for the accreditation of Initial Teacher Education courses, as well as creating a nationally recognised and accredited professional qualification on climate justice education.
In light of the additional INSET day announced by Welsh Government, our Wales ask on teacher training also includes designating climate education as a priority area for professional learning during the additional INSET day.
In Scotland, we have worked with the 2023 Government’s Learning for Sustainability Action Plan, which is set to embed and support climate justice education within initial teacher education and development.
Teach the Future recognises that teachers, at all levels of education, are already overworked, so the incorporation of climate and sustainability in teacher education should be painlessly incorporated into educators’ work, not simply added to their workload without appropriate support. Training should be fully paid, manageable alongside educators’ normal workload and ideally delivered within normal working hours.
To ensure that all schools across Scotland and Wales have embedded sustainability and climate justice education across their curricula, we have proposed making provisions for – and prioritising – these areas in school inspections.
As the new Curriculum for Wales grants schools significant flexibility in designing their curriculum, we have requested that the schools inspectorate (ESTYN) be issued a mandate to integrate these topics across all five areas of their school assessments.
In Scotland, we are supportive of the Scottish Government’s existing policy against league ranking tables for education, as the correlations between socio-economic status and ranking scores cannot be denied. We seek to support the Scottish Government and the inspectorate in finding more value-based measurements for sustainability and beyond.
If an education system is to teach students about sustainability, the buildings they learn in must be sustainable.
While we commend efforts to ensure that all new educational buildings funded through Welsh and Scottish Government capital meet net zero carbon targets, there is no plan in either nation for retrofitting existing educational buildings to net-zero standards. As a result, we have asked both governments to put existing educational buildings at the front of the queue for green retrofitting by 2030. As many schools in Wales are currently working towards becoming deforestation-free, our Wales ask on sustainable estates also includes supporting all schools in achieving this goal, recognising the importance of accounting for consumption-based emissions arising from unsustainable procurement practices.
In Scotland, whilst some carbon standards are in place for new builds, our asks call for the Scottish Government to put existing educational buildings at the front of the queue to be retrofitted to net-zero standards by 2030, and provide adequate funding for this.
We hope this has been an interesting read - you can find out more about the work of Teach the Future, sign up to our newsletter, or donate to support the campaign on our website.