A while back, Teach the Future launched a campaign to have members of the education professions write to their MPs calling for better climate education in schools. I duly obliged. Below is what I sent based on a template provided which I significantly altered. Despite the fact that my MP is a DfE minister (or maybe because of it), I did not think for a moment that this would make a difference.
Dear Michelle, I hope you are well. I am at the suggestion of Teach the Future to ask that, as my MP, you convey its vision (which I share) for a broad climate education to your colleague the Secretary of State for Education.
Current education on climate change is not good enough; research has found that just 4% of students feel they know a lot about climate change and 75% of teachers feel that they do not have adequate training to teach on the topic. The government has said that schools and teachers have the liberty to teach in an extensive way about climate change if they want to, but this means little if they aren’t trained to teach this very complex subject and confident about doing so. Currently, the vast majority of school students aren’t being prepared to face the effects of climate change or taught to understand the solutions. But we can change this.
The solution is ensuring that environmental sustainability and climate change are taught across the curriculum in a co-ordinated way, rather than in (sometimes optional) single subjects. If we get this right, we can begin to help students develop the skills and understandings needed, not only for the green jobs of the future, but also the attitudes and dispositions that individuals and families will need to make the UK a world leader in low carbon living and working. Teach the Future and its supporters (who include me) want teachers to be trained in how to teach about these difficult topics sensitively and for schools to be given the funding and resources to do this. Furthermore, I think that all vocational courses should include a focus on green skills. I'd also like to see all education buildings retrofitted to net-zero emissions by 2030.
Therefore, I urge you to speak to your colleague the Secretary of State for Education to urge him to implement a Climate Emergency Education Act and include the climate emergency and ecological crisis in teacher training.
A Climate Emergency Education Act will:
– Ensure that all education providers teach about the climate and ecological emergency;
– Upskill teachers and lecturers to do this;
– Provide help for schools in supporting pupils suffering from eco-anxiety;
– Increase environmental education for all students including outdoor education;
– Make funding available for youth-led climate and environmental projects at every school;
– Create more green vocational training;
– Retrofit of all educational buildings to net-zero emissions by 2030.
I believe that a broad climate education will empower every young person to contribute to a more resilient, sustainable society and hope that you share my vision.
Over a month has passed since I sent this; no response ...