Last month, Pearson, the educative publishing company (and mastermind behind the video game Poptropica) released the new Pearson School Report. By surveying nearly 7000 teachers and headteachers in England, this report reveals what our educators think about education in England, as well as their challenges and hopes for the future. The report tackles a whole range of issues and shortcomings in the education system however, being Teach the Future, we are focussing on how it relates to the climate crisis. I recommend reading the report, which makes use of many graphs and images to display the information in an engaging and user-friendly way. However, here are some of the climate-related highlights:
Key findings: Climate awareness and anxiety in pupils
Key findings: Teachers’ support for climate education
An overarching theme in the report is the disconnect between teachers’ perceptions of their role and the reality of schools: more than three-quarters of teachers view their purpose as developing the whole of the child and not just their academic performance. However, schools are failing to support the mental and emotional development of their pupils. “The proportion of students struggling [with anxiety around global issues] is a stark reminder, if any were needed, that our schools do not operate in a vacuum- but are microcosms of the wider world, and very much affected by broader events.” Schools and the national curriculum are not keeping up with the priorities, anxieties and needs of the new generation. As the report states, “young people fail to connect with learning because the curriculum does not sufficiently reflect or represent their lives.” With the large quantities of false information disseminated daily on social media, the need for robust and standardised climate education is paramount. We propose that a comprehensive climate education will help tackle climate anxiety as ultimately anxiety is caused by a feeling of helplessness in the face of an overwhelming problem. If we acknowledge and teach the climate crisis inside of school, pupils have a controlled safe space to discuss their feelings. Pupils will no longer feel that authorities are ignoring them but do indeed care about their future.
Overall, we salute the work of our teachers to support and educate our generation under increasing budget pressures (shockingly, almost half of schools are considering letting out school buildings over the next academic year to increase their school’s income.) We hope that our leaders will listen to teachers to create an educative environment which supports pupils’ emotional and mental needs (and, of course, incorporate climate education into the curriculum).