University of Reading working with Government to enhance climate education in schools
08 November 2021
Training to empower teachers to effectively incorporate climate change within their lessons and a national library of quality assured teaching resources are part of an action plan being launched to reshape climate education in UK schools.
The Climate Education Action Plan, being launched today (Monday 8 November) at COP26 by the University of Reading, comprises nine ways climate education can be immediately improved. The plan was developed in partnership with organisations including the Department for Education, Met Office, Royal Meteorological Society, Office for Climate Education, the EAUC - Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, climate solutions charity Ashden and young people, including climate youth campaigners.
The joint plan will be co-owned, led and delivered by partners, including the Department for Education (DfE), and young people.
Empowering the next generation
It follows a Climate Education Summit organised by the University in September, at which young people, scientists, education specialists, campaigners and policymakers discussed how to adapt to and help tackle the impacts of climate change and minimise future change.
“This is an issue that requires action right now. We are therefore delighted to have the support of the Department for Education and our partners to enact significant positive changes that can take place immediately" - Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, Head of the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences, University of Reading
Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, Head of the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences at the University of Reading, said: “It really is vital that young people learn about the effects climate change is having on the planet and how it will impact on their lives. This will empower them to face a challenging future with confidence.
“There is a lot of great work being done by teachers and schools around the country, but we have heard loud and clear, not least from young people, that we need a step change in climate education. It is crucial that everyone including teachers, school leaders, climate researchers and policymakers work together to give all young people access to high-quality, up-to-date climate information.
“This is an issue that requires action right now. We are therefore delighted to have the support of the Department for Education and our partners to enact significant positive changes that can take place immediately. There is so much good work we can draw on to make this happen and so much energy and enthusiasm for better climate education.
“If you think you can help us deliver the action plan we would love to hear from you. The UK is so lucky to have such excellent people and organisations committed to meaningful change in climate education – the action plan needs you so come and join us.”
“This Climate Education Action Plan makes an important contribution to the University of Reading’s commitment to deliver meaningful solutions to the greatest problems facing the planet" - Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor, University of Reading
Professor Robert Van de Noort, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading, said: “This Climate Education Action Plan makes an important contribution to the University of Reading’s commitment to deliver meaningful solutions to the greatest problems facing the planet.
“As world leaders meet to address the climate crisis, including how we prepare our children and young people for the future, I am proud that we and our partners have delivered this action-based plan that can start making a difference now.”
Among the plan’s nine strands are pledges to provide continued professional development in climate education for everyone involved in the education of children in school and college settings, and the creation of a climate award for schools, colleges and youth organisations, led by the DfE.
The University of Reading will lead on three strands, including development of initial teaching training, on which the University’s Institute of Education has already made progress for the current academic year.
The plan also suggests schools and colleges identify a senior individual to lead on climate education, and that teachers and school leaders be empowered to ensure time for climate education within and beyond the teaching day.
The Action Plan is allied with the DfE’s draft Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy, announced on Friday 5 November, which also advocates the provision of training and quality resources on climate education for teachers.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: "This Climate Education Action Plan supports important elements of the Government’s strategy to help young people develop their knowledge and skills to protect the environment.
“The Department for Education will play a leading role in delivering these actions. We are pleased to work with organisations that are world-leaders on climate change and passionate about taking action for the future of our planet.”
The University of Reading and Summit partners co-signed an open letter earlier this year arguing that the next generation was being let down by inadequate climate education.
More than 500 people attended the subsequent Climate Education Summit on September 15, where they heard from youth campaigners on how informal mentions of climate change during their time at school and their own independent learning had helped them engage with the issue, and discussed practical ways to support teachers in providing an understanding to all pupils aged eight to 18.
This climate education work is the focus of the University of Reading virtual exhibit in the Blue Zone at COP26.
For more information on getting involved with delivering the Action Plan, contact firstname.lastname@example.org