Since 2010, NUS has researched the expectations and experiences of students in higher education in relation to sustainability, and in 2016 extended the research to also gather the views of students in further education.
For the first time in 2018, NUS surveyed students in primary and secondary schools in England, in partnership with Green Schools Project. In December 2018, 2,990 pupils across England in year 5 and 6 in primary school and across all years in secondary and sixth form college level completed an online survey on their views on environmental sustainability.
The findings include:
- 56% say they have learnt lots or quite a bit about the environment at their current school or college
- 68% are interested in learning more about the environment
- 86% agree that all schools and colleges should be doing things to help the environment
- 85% agree that all schools and colleges should be encouraging and helping "pupils like me" to do things to help the environment
- 49% say they would like to be involved with projects or activities at their school or college that help the environment
- 54% say they are very or fairly concerned about climate change
- 80% say it is fairly or very important for world leaders to do more to tackle climate change
- 22% say they had heard of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, also known as the Global Goals
- 46% say thry would like to spend more time in nature if they had the chance
It is likely that the schools that responded are those at the more engaged end of the spectrum when it comes to environmental sustainability, often with specific staff members with a responsibility for the issue within the school or college who were able to drive participation in the research within the school.
These are encouraging data and provide a sound basis for the new NUS charity SOS-UK to work from. To read the full report with details of methodology, and to learn more about the NUS sustainability work, click here.