Updated: Jul 28, 2020
In England, we are pushing for an English Climate Emergency Education Bill, and in Scotland, we are pushing for a Scottish Climate and Biodiversity Emergency Bill. Both are very simple, and I thought it would be a good idea to explain them a bit here.
In England, we hired a lawyer to write the bill with us, making us the creators of the first education bill written by students. Just to clarify, this bill hasn't entered parliament yet, we hope this government will decide to implement it if w can lobby them on this.
Why is climate education needed?
Current and future generations of students are growing up in a world shaped by the climate crisis and ecological emergency.
Young people need to be taught about this emergency so that they are prepared to mitigate, abate, and end the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
Students must be equipped with the skills to live and lead sustainably so we can limit the climate and ecological breakdown as much as possible and create a more just and sustainable future.
Don't we have climate education already?
Only 4% of students feel that they know a lot about climate change;
68% of students want to learn more about the environment;
75% of teachers feel they haven’t received adequate training to educate students about climate change.
So whilst climate change is in the curriculum, it clearly isn't as comprehensive as urgently required.
So what is the solution?
All students should learn about the climate and ecological emergency regardless of the subjects they choose.
Sustainability should be treated as a key principle in education (like Equality), woven throughout all subject areas.
Learning about the climate emergency should be liberated from its current subject siloes (e.g. optional Geography and a small bit in science at GCSE).
A learning pathway should be created by the DfE so that students build up knowledge, understanding, and skills on these topics through the course of their primary and secondary education, seeing sustainability as a golden thread throughout education.
Students learn from their environment, so education buildings should be environmentally friendly, with students engaged in the changes that are made to their buildings.
Vocational courses in colleges should be overhauled to reskill the workforce so as to deliver the transition to a low carbon economy.
What does the bill do?
The Climate Emergency Education Bill calls for:
All education providers to teach the truth about the climate and ecological emergency;
Teachers and lecturers to be retrained to do so;
Help for educators in supporting pupils suffering from eco-anxiety;
Increased outdoor education for students;
Funding for youth-led climate and environmental social action and youth voice;
Creation of more green vocational training;
Retrofitting of all educational buildings to net-zero emissions by 2030.
Bill, full summary, costings, and research available at teachthefuture.uk/asks