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The state of environmental education in secondary schools in England

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates

It was good to see new research on EE in secondary school emerge from from King' College last week.  These details are taken from the NAEE blog:

It's a two-part report that explores the state of environmental education in secondary schools in England.  The project was: Understanding Environmental Education in Secondary Schools. Where is it, what is it and what should the future be? 

Here’s a brief summary with links:

Report 1: Policy Perspectives

Summary: The provision of environmental education in formal schooling is weakly supported by national policies. There is currently a lack of intention or ideological vision for environmental education explicitly articulated in England’s education policy.


  • The government should establish a coherent national policy which sets out a vision for environmental education in secondary schools. The policy would shape future National Curriculum reforms and national assessments.
  • The national policy should recognize the multiple dimensions of environmental education (e.g. about, in and for the environment) and ensure that all dimensions are given equal footing throughout a student’s school career.
  • Young people should be given the opportunity to think broadly about local and global environmental issues and encouraged to develop a sense of ownership and agency.


Report 2: The Practitioners’ Perspective

Summary: The provision of environmental education in England is complex, contested and circular. Viewed as a broad church, and a discipline which students find ‘interesting’, environmental education encompasses multiple topics and skills. Currently, however, environmental education has no defined home resulting in the subject ‘falling through the gaps’.


  • Environmental education should be recognised in future Ofsted’s school inspection framework.
  • Effective environmental education needs to encompass equal opportunities for environmental activism, subject acquisition, and skill development.
  • Environmental education should be recognised in the Teachers’ Standards.
  • Examination boards need to be encouraged to development and promote assessment procedures that capture equally environmental education’s three underpinning values: social responsibility/activism in the environment, knowledge about the environment and skills for the environment.
  • Senior leaders need to be encouraged to include environmental responsibility and activism in their mission statement/school aim and school operations policies and practices.
No doubt these recommendations will be be enthusiastically welcomed by environmental educators, but should they be?  Well, I'll say more on this in the coming week or so after I've taken the requisite time to consider what the report has to say.  At first glance, it looks provocative in the best sense – that is, it's something to make you think about the issues.

Posted in: Comment, New Publications, News and Updates


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