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  • Zamzam Ibrahim (NUS)

MP response update, and what do we want?

Thanks so much to all of you that have written to your MPs for us imploring them to attend our reception in Parliament next week. We now have 50 MPs confirmed, which means we are half way to our target of 100! If you haven’t written to your MP, its not too late, here is a template email you can use.

I know quite a few of you have received standard cut and paste replies from staff in Conservative MP offices stating that climate change is in the curriculum so no need to worry. Here is one such email, and the reply that a fifteen-year-old school pupil sent back, she is totally spot on!

For the record, yes, climate change is in the curriculum, but it is siloed in optional Geography GSCE and a woefully small part of science. Having the climate emergency and ecological crisis siloed in this way leads to it being perceived as something just for geographers and scientists, whereas the reality is it will shape the lives of every one of us.

Yes the curriculum is important, but that is only part of the solution because it doesn’t cover about a half of all schools (all the multi-academy trusts), or any of our 140 universities. I studied finance at university and learnt almost nothing about the climate emergency, which is amazing given the crucial role of finance in transform our society to net-zero.

As it is there is no continuity of learning on the climate emergency between primary, secondary and tertiary education. Unlike sexual heath education, there is no educational pathway for the climate emergency. I believe that learning to live sustainability should be more like learning about equality - that is a principle woven through all subject areas, not stuck in subject silos. We need to liberate learning about the climate emergency, and mainstream it, and do it fast, as we are in a climate emergency!

The facts are that 75% of teachers feel they haven’t received adequate training to educate students about climate change, and only 4% of students feel they know a lot about climate change. We have got to reverse these statistics.

I’m sorry, but we cannot accept that we are getting the education we need, and we certainly do not want just some tweak to the national curriculum. We need a climate emergency education plan to respond to all this. This is exactly what Teach the Future is calling for, as well as providing the outline for such a plan.

Through our asks we call for a Department for Education independent review of how the education system is preparing young people for the climate emergency and ecological crisis;, changes to teaching standards and a new professional qualification for teachers; funding for the retrofitting climate and ecological knowledge into existing teachers and lecturers; funding for youth-led climate social action in every school, college and university (because we need action now, and we learn when we lead); funding for net-zero educational buildings as a national infrastructure priority.

We really want to support the Government to reform the education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis, and to make the education system a core pillar of their climate change plans in the run up to COP26. We are doing this so we can ensure our generation does a better job of managing the planet the current lot have done to date. Reforming our education system is our best bet to securing our future.


Thank you again for your support

Zamzam Ibrahim, 25

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