Teachers for climate crisis education reform
I have been frustrated by the lack of urgency in the education system. The climate crisis has made it evident that the role of education has never been more important. Young people are deeply concerned about the climate crisis and the impact to their futures. Yet what is an age-appropriate way for teachers to engage with the climate crisis? How can we give pupils an education fit for the future? Schools should be the platform to teach their pupils about the impacts of climate change and have a direct bearing on changing habits to reduce consumption and emissions. Indirectly, education has the power to change entire communities. However in a 2019 poll, two-thirds of teachers felt there should be more climate teaching in UK schools, while three-quarters of teachers felt they did not have adequate training on the subject (The Guardian). Schools are desperate for clear direction. Headteachers need to lead their schools to successful adaption, reducing their carbon emissions and becoming more sustainable. Lessons urgently need to incorporate the reality of the climate crisis with up-to-date and accurate resources. Embedding climate change fully into the National Curriculum needs to happen immediately, to prepare students for their futures. Our future workforce will rely on environmentalists, scientists, town planners, engineers, nutritionists, meteorologists, teachers and many other roles in response to climate change. Teachers need to be preparing their pupils for a very different future. Yet schools need guidance, money and support to do this. For too long, schools have had to stand as apolitical, neutral pillars in the community. “For way too long, the politicians and the people in power have gotten away with not doing anything to fight the climate crisis, but we will make sure that they will not get away with it any longer.” - Greta Thunberg With support and guidance from the Department of Education, schools need to overcome their fear that they may receive “accusations of politicisation”, and accept the fact that this is an international crisis. There should be no red-tape and no barriers. Our futures rely on adaptation and preparation. The role of education in all of this is pivotal. Schools are beginning to challenge their political fears. They are establishing clear Environmental Policies and incorporating climate change-based topics in the curriculum. Some are encouraging more sustainable approaches such as recycling, school travel plans and gardening. This is neither quick or nation-wide. The Teach The Future Campaign demands joined-up thinking and clear direction. We need leaders to guide us through this crisis. Currently, we turn to the voice of the future for our leadership. On behalf of all NEU members, I want you to know that we hear you, we support you, and we stand with you.
Harriet Neville Primary School Teacher NEU New Members’ Officer for Reading Climate Change Teaching and Learning Lead for Reading
The National Education Union (NEU) is a proud supporter of the Teach the Future campaign