Learning to care for the environment – and for the rest of humanity

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates

This is the text of a letter that the Sunday Times published today, April 14th.  It was timed to fit with the approaching deadline for commenting on the government's national curriculum revision proposals.  Specifically, this addressed unnecessary and quite inexplicable changes proposed to the science curriculum.  I was pleased to sign it as President of NAEE – the National Association of Environmental Education.  I was in very good company as you can see from the list of those who also signed.


As the loss of wildlife and habitats continues apace, both in the UK and globally, and as evidence suggests growing numbers of children are missing out on the mental and physical health benefits of spending time in nature, the place of the natural environment in the national curriculum is more critical than ever.

Indeed, the British Government has committed to nurturing our children’s love and respect for nature under two binding international agreements (the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi targets).

However, under the Government’s new draft national curriculum for England, education on the environment would start three years later than at present and all existing references to care and protection would be removed.  This is both unfathomable and unacceptable.

Today’s children are tomorrow’s custodians of nature.  Government has a duty to ensure that all pupils have the chance to learn about threats to the natural world, to be inspired to care for it and to explore ways to preserve and restore it.  These proposals not only undermine our children’s understanding and love of nature, but ultimately threaten nature itself, and through it the well-being of young people and all future generations.

Sir David Attenborough, Broadcaster and naturalist

Sir Tim Smit KBE, Chief Executive of Development and Co-founder, The Eden Project

Sir Christian Bonington, Mountaineer

Andy Atkins, Executive Director, Friends of the Earth

Baroness Young of Old Scone, Peer and former Chief Executive of the Environment Agency and the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Barry Gardiner, MP for Brent North

Beth Gardner, Chief Executive, Council for Learning Outside the Classroom

Camila Batmanghelidjh, CEO, Kids Company

Chris Packham, Naturalist and broadcaster

Dame Vivienne Westwood, Designer

David Nussbaum, Chief Executive, WWF UK

Dr Mike Clarke, Chief Executive, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall, Writer, broadcaster and campaigner

John Sauven, Executive Director, Greenpeace UK

Jonathon Porritt, Founder Director, Forum for the Future

Julian Huppert, MP for Cambridge

Maggie Williams, Chair, Earth Science Teachers' Association

Neil Sinden, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Campaign to Protect Rural England

Professor William Scott, University of Bath and President of NAEE – the National Association of Environmental Education

Simon King OBE, President of the Wildlife Trusts

Stacey Solomon, Singer, TV presenter

Stanley Johnson, Conservationist and former MEP

Tony Juniper, Environmental advisor and writer

Professor Alex Rogers, Professor in Conservation Biology, University of Oxford

Alistair Gammell OBE, Conservationist

Caroline Lucas, MP for Brighton Pavillion

Cathy Dean, Director, Save the Rhino International

Ceri Levy, Wildlife filmmaker

Charles Secrett, National Coordinator of the ACT! Alliance

Professor Chris King, Professor of Earth Science Education, Keele University

Professor Cynthia Burek, Professor of Geoconservation, University of Chester

David Bond and Ashley Jones, Project Wild Thing

Dr David Chivers, Reader in Wildlife biology, primate socio-ecology and rain-forest conservation, University of Cambridge

David Lindo, The Urban Birder

Dr David Whitebread, Senior Lecturer in Psychology of Education, University of Cambridge

Deborah Curtis and Gavin Turk, Founders and Directors, House of Fairy Tales

Professor Dianne Edwards CBE FRS, President of the The Linnean Society

Dixe Wills, Author

Dr Duncan Jones, Headteacher, Northleigh Church of England Primary School and EcoSchool, Worcestershire

Professor E J Millner-Gulland, Professor in Conservation Science, Imperial College of Science and Technology

Elisabeth Whitebread, Director, Climate Rush

Elizabeth Rollinson, Executive Secretary, The Linnean Society of London

Fiona Danks and Jo Schofield, Authors of Going Wild, Nature's Playground and Make It Wild

George Monbiot, Journalist and writer

Georgina Domberger, Director, Whitley Fund for Nature

Dr Heather Koldewey, Co-founder and Field Conservation Manager, Project Seahorse

Helen Buckland, Director, Sumatran Orangutan Society

Jean Lambert, Green Party MEP for London, former teacher

Jean-Paul Jeanrenaud, Director, Business Innovation and Education, WWF International

John Reynolds, Geoconservation UK

Jon Millington and Julie Holland, Wild Learning and Development Ltd

Jonathan Elphick, Natural History Author

Professor Jonathan Gosling, Professor of Leadership Studies, University of Exeter

Joss Garman, Campaigner

Jules Howard, Zoologist and nature writer

Juliette Daigre, Education Manager, People and Planet

Dr Kirsten Pullen, CEO, British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums

Lord Judd, Peer

Dr Lucy Gilliam, Director, New Dawn Traders

Lucy McRobert, Director, A Focus on Nature

Professor Malcolm Kirkup, Director, One Planet MBA, University of Exeter

Dr Mark Avery, Naturalist and author

Mark and Mo Constantine, Co-founders, Lush Ltd

Dr Mark Harrison, Managing Director, Orangutan Tropical Peatland Project

Mark Pritchard, CEO, Green Light Trust

Mark Shand, Co-Founder, Elephant Family

Dr Martin Warren, Chief Executive, Butterfly Conservation

Matt Williams, Co-Director, UK Youth Climate Coalition

Mike Browne, Chairman, GeoConservation UK

Natalie Bennett, Leader, Green Party of England and Wales

Dr Netta Weinstein, Lecturer in Psychology, University of Essex

Paul West, Primary school teacher

Pete Gamby, Marketing Manager, Opticron

Richard Hawkins, Director, Public Interest Research Centre

Richard Louv, Journalist, author and Founding Chairman of the Children and Nature Network

Dr Rob Lambert, Lecturer in Tourism and the Environment, Nottingham University Business School

Robert Lucas, Chief Executive Officer, Field Studies Council

Ruth Powys, Director, Elephant Family

Ruth Wharrier, PGCE, Teacher, Snape Primary School, Suffolk

Saci Lloyd, Author and teacher

Sam Fanshawe, CEO, Marine Conservation Society

Sam Hewitt, Founder and Director, Sea Urchins magazine

Sara Oldfield, Secretary General, Botanic Gardens Conservation International

Professor Susan Page, Head of Dept of Geography, University of Leicester

Sara Parkin, Founder Director, Forum for the Future

Sue Sheward MBE, Founder and Chairperson, Orangutan Appeal UK

Sharon Johnson, Chief Executive, Trees for Cities

Tamsin Omond, Campaigner

The Woodland Trust

Tim "Mac" McCarthy,            Founder of Embercombe

Tim Appleton MBE, Rutland Water Nature Reserve Manager

Tim Mackrill, Senior Reserve Officer, Rutland Water Nature Reserve

Tom Rippin, CEO, On Purpose

Dr William Bird MBE, General Practitioner, CEO Intelligent Health and Former Strategic Health Advisor, Natural England

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates


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