Our learning needs to reflect the severity of the climate crisis.
We demand reform to the education system.
WE CALL FOR
1. A REVIEW >>
ask 1: A REVIEW
A government commissioned review into how the whole of the English formal education system is preparing students for the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
A review commissioned by the Department for Education, led by an independent Chair, endorsed by UKSCN and NUS representatives, supported by a panel of students, into how the English formal education system in its entirety (primary through to adult education) is preparing students to mitigate, abate and end the climate emergency and ecological crisis. It will need tight terms of reference and ideally report within a year so as not to disillusion student campaigners, many of whom are anxious for immediate change. The review should propose detailed and costed recommendations for Government and autonomous educational institutions, including universities. All stages of the review should be developed in consultation with all relevant interest, stakeholder and representative groups. We believe the review should include whether learning about the climate emergency and ecological crisis is a learning entitlement, what is the most appropriate learning pathway (taking into consideration the very real problem of eco-anxiety), and how any such learning pathway can join up through the various forms of education. We will call for similar reviews in the devolved nations in due course.
2. TEACHER TRAINING >>
ask 2: TEACHER TRAINING
Inclusion of the climate emergency and ecological crisis in teacher training and a new professional teaching qualification.
As is the case in Scotland, learning about the climate emergency and ecological crisis should be a compulsory part of teaching training courses. We would like to see this detailed in the Government’s teacher standards for England and the Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Content Framework. We would also like to see a new National Professional Qualification for teachers on the climate emergency and ecological crisis, including considerations relating to eco-anxiety. These actions should not wait for the review in Ask 1 and should be done immediately.
3. AN ENGLISH CLIMATE EMERGENCY EDUCATION ACT >>
ask 3: An English Climate Emergency Education Act
Our third is inspired by the US Defence Education Act, which was the huge, and ultimately successful, investment in their Education system on STEM as part of the space race.
We are asking for an English Climate Emergency Education Act; a symbolically important new act of Parliament, sitting above the various pieces of existing legislation, stating an expectation on education providers at all levels to deliver teaching and learning on the climate emergency, climate justice (the social injustice issues pertaining from global heating) and ecological crisis, and providing substantial new funding to enable this to happen at pace. We have drafted the legislation and think it is the first ever education legislation to have been written by pupils and students.
This funding provided by the Act would allow for:
A learning programme for existing teachers and lecturers, and other key educational institution staff, on the science of the climate emergency and ecological crisis, the systems changes required to abate them, including provision of teaching resources at all levels. This would include training to enable these staff members to identify eco-anxiety and support pupils suffering from eco-anxiety;
A national Climate Education Information Institute to disseminate scientific information about climate change, its effects and measures of prevention;
A national programme of vocational training through the development of national centres of excellence to promote the reskilling of the workforce in line with the green skills requirements of industrial strategy;
A national programme for research into the impact and outcomes of sustainability learning in terms of learning outcomes, attainment, resilience and wellbeing;
A national programme of outdoor education and connection to nature linked to learning about the climate emergency and ecological crisis;
An English climate emergency youth voice grant fund, so that youth voice climate boards can be established in all education providers, local authorities and NHS trusts. See Appendix one for more information;
Establishment of a Youth Climate Endowment Fund to fund youth-led climate and environmental social action enabling students in every educational institution to engage their peers, teachers and parents in practical, local action to abate the climate emergency and ecological crisis. See Appendix two for more information.
The act would also impose a new duty on schools to ensure they designate a senior member of staff as a climate co-ordinator, responsible for implementing their new duties, and create a general duty on the Office for Students with regard to teaching and learning about the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
Importantly, the act would also ensure that the Government puts our educational buildings to the front of the queue to be retrofitted to net-zero standards through the national infrastructure plan. If our education system is to teach students about sustainability, the buildings they learn within must be sustainable, because of the importance of the subliminal curriculum to learning. The act would also commit the funding to make this happen, ensuring all new state-funded educational buildings are net-zero from 2022; all existing state-funded educational buildings retrofitted to net-zero by 2030.
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