In the middle of its consultation about its Sustainability and Climate Change draft strategy, the DfE has decided to run a survey. This asks us which actions set out in the strategy are the most important to us, and seeks our our opinions of the overall strategy itself. Here is the link to the survey instrument.
I filled it in more by way of duty than anything else. Inevitably it comprises closed questions, many with limited scope for response. There was little opportunity for saying what I really thought. Some argue that the DfE only did this in order to be seen to be doing something in the face of criticism from school unions published on January 24th. The survey went live on January 31st and so there might be something in that argument especially as the unions' letter says this:
"We greatly appreciate the opportunity to engage with staff from the recently established DfE Sustainability Unit - and appreciate their knowledge and dedication - and will continue to contribute positively to meetings and prepare written feedback. However, given the importance of this engagement, and to demonstrate that the Government will listen and act, we would, in addition to these engagement opportunities, urge you to establish a formal consultation process compliant with the HM Government’s Code of Practice on Consultation. At COP 26 you gave a clear commitment to worker consultation. We would, therefore, urge you to make good on this undertaking. It is not too late to establish a formal consultation process with a deadline for responses in April 2022."
The unions welcome the strategy, as we must, but say:
"... there remain areas of concern where proposed changes do not go far enough, and other issues have been overlooked. The organisations say the language around resource and finance is vague, whilst certain key targets are far less ambitious than required, and climate education is confined to discrete subject areas rather than embedded holistically. Instead, they propose concrete and ambitious alternatives, including:
- Embedding sustainability and environmental education throughout the whole curriculum.
- Prompt action to tackle gender disparity within STEM subjects.
- Establishing, and keeping to a target date of 2030 for the retrofitting of the school estate.
- Development of a detailed policy on green travel for students, staff, and parents.
These steps will better enable educators, children and young people to achieve the fundamental change necessary for future generations to thrive."
Welcome stuff in the main, though the point about retrofitting by 2030 is whistling in the wind.