Climate advisors for schools in new education scheme
21 April 2022
New scheme is part of DfE national strategy and will make expert knowledge available to schools
New scheme offering crash courses in climate change for teachers; helping schools, colleges and nurseries transition to net zero; and supporting them in making their buildings resilient to extreme weather
The Climate Ambassador Scheme, launched today (Thursday 21 April), will provide schools and colleges around the UK with access to leading experts working on climate.
Led collaboratively by the University of Reading and STEM Learning, involving partners from universities and research institutions around the UK, the scheme will support the new Department for Education Sustainability and Climate Change strategy.
The scheme will link experts with local schools and colleges to receive free advice to develop their own climate plans. Climate Ambassadors will help to provide tailored advice and training to schools and colleges.
Examples of activities that Climate Ambassadors might get involved in include teacher training days, fact-checking resources for teachers, advice to school leaders or governors on cutting carbon emissions, or even making practical suggestions on when to schedule sports days to avoid heat stress.
Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, the University of Reading climate scientist who has led the scheme’s creation, said: “The Climate Ambassador Scheme goes beyond the occasional class talk or school assembly and, importantly, is about more than just science. We believe that climate change is relevant in every classroom, across all subjects.
“Teachers have told us they would like support from top experts, giving them confidence to help their students learn about climate change with accurate and up-to-date information. Young people have been telling anyone who would listen that they need the skills and knowledge to face their future under a rapidly changing climate.”
Action now for climate education
More than 20 organisations have already committed to participating in the Climate Ambassador Scheme, which will serve early-years, primary, secondary and college levels.
The scheme is the first step in a Climate Education Action Plan launched at COP26 in November 2021 following a major Climate Education Summit hosted in September 2021 by the University of Reading with partners including the 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 campaigners.
The UK Government’s new strategy on climate education, also published this week, includes plans for greener schools, delivering coordinated climate change and sustainability teaching, and for the UK to have the ‘world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030’.
Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “I’m thrilled to see schools and colleges will soon benefit from expert advice to develop their own climate plans. Education is one of our key weapons in the fight against climate change, which is why we are launching our flagship Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy and our new natural history GCSE.
“It’s fantastic that we are giving teachers and school leaders the tools to take action to cut carbon emissions and ensure their buildings are resilient to extreme weather, and supporting them to encourage the younger generation to be agents of change in protecting our planet.”
Beyond just science
The new ambassador scheme will be accessed by schools and colleges, for free, through STEM Learning - the UK's largest provider of education and careers support in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Through the STEM Learning website and local networks anyone who works on any aspect of climate change can sign up to become a climate ambassador and any teachers can request a climate ambassador to work with them.
Professionals who sign up to be a climate ambassador will receive a support pack and will be invited to pledge a small proportion of their working time – one to two days per year – to supporting nurseries, schools and colleges.
Broadcast meteorologist and Reading alumna Laura Tobin, who is a champion for the scheme, said: “Climate education is a subject I am passionate about, and one that young people are expressing a desire for more information on.
“Teachers are already changing and shaping lives across the country every day, and require expert support if we are to build knowledge and skills into teaching to help young people face the challenges that come with a changing planet.
“I would urge anyone who is passionate about and knowledge of climate change and sustainability to become a Climate Ambassador and help bring about positive changes in all classrooms.”
Experts, teachers and organisations can sign up, request support or find out more about the Climate Ambassador Scheme by visiting stem.org.uk/climate-ambassadors
Institutions supporting the Climate Ambassadors Scheme include:
- Department for Education
- Royal Meteorological Society
- Office for Climate Education
- Met Office
- The Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education
- National Centre for Atmospheric Science
- National Centre for Earth Observation
- Climate Outreach
- Open University
- University of Bath
- University of Birmingham
- University of Bristol
- Cambridge Zero, University of Cambridge
- University College London
- University of East Anglia
- Edinburgh Climate Change Institute, University of Edinburgh
- University of Exeter
- Grantham Institute – Climate Change and Environment, Imperial College London
- University of Leeds
- Liverpool John Moores University
- University of Manchester
- University of Newcastle
- University of Oxford
- University of Portsmouth
- University of St Andrew’s
- University of Strathclyde
- University of West London
- University of Winchester
- University of York