In 1993, the UK's Council for Environmental Education (CEE) celebrated its 25th birthday, and its annual report (which I have in front of me) had the message "Building on 25 years' experience". Happy days.
CEE would have been 50 years old this year, but it is long gone (about 15 years ago) and its demise was one of the way-markers on the road to the marginalisation and irrelevance of environmental education in schools. Whilst I know something about the curriculum developments, policy shifts more widely, manipulations, cowardice, self-interest and downright betrayals that led to CEE's going, this is not the time to rehearse all that. Nor, in writing about CEE, am I proposing its reintroduction as that is clearly impossible. However, the 1993 report gives clues as to why CEE was so successful in its time (even if it was of its time). Here are some of them:
Income – £366,532 – this is over £700,000 in today's money
£115,565 of this was a grant from the Department of the Environment, £30,069 came from local government, and £137,728 was to fund projects. In addition, there was a separate Youth Unit with an income of £49,670 including £39,000 from BP.
Expenditure – £366,000
£159,243 was spent on staff which included a director and deputy director, two information officers, a communication manager, an education officer, two policy research officers, and four office administrators / assistants. Over £10,000 was spent on postage.
There was a 31 strong executive committee, a 15 member youth committee, and a schools and tertiary committee that had 13 members.
There were 70 member organisations and 60 local authorities were supporters (they all paid a membership fee), with 7 corporate associates and 16 funding partners (mostly from the business sector); the CBI (along with DfE, DoE and others) were observers.
Members represented the great 'n' good of the environment and education sectors; indeed, it would be easier to count those not members. Many of these organisations still exist; for example:
WWF, the WI, NAEE, NAHT, ASE, the GA, FoE, Greenpeace, the Woodcraft folk, English Heritage, the FSC, the Guides, Learning through Landscapes, RSPB, the OU, RIBA, WWT, YMCA, National Trust, Oxfam, CAT, the BEN, and the YHA (etc, etc.)
The picture this paints of environmental education being widely valued is pellucidly clear. How little we understood at the time just how precarious it all was:
"... And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare