In the Autumn term 2018 Green Schools Project and NUS launched a research pilot to better understand the views and experiences of young people in Years 5 to 13 on environmental sustainability. 2,990 pupils responded, and the plan is to repeat the survey each year to track changes in attitudes over time.

Most of the findings demonstrate a desire and willingness from young people to learn and do more about climate change and environmental protection, but they did not necessarily have the confidence and knowledge required to take appropriate action.

Consideration must be taken of the sample of young people, with the majority coming from schools that have an environmental education lead teacher that has arranged for pupils to respond. This makes the findings more concerning as it is likely that it paints a more positive picture than is the reality. We hope that in the coming years this survey will grow and we will get responses from a sample that is more representative of the whole country.

These are a few of the findings:

  • Over a third (42%) of young people aged 9-18 say they have learnt only a little, hardly anything or nothing about the environment at school.
  • Only 4% of pupils surveyed feel that they know a lot about climate change.
  • 68% are interested in learning more about the environment.
  • 86% agree that ‘all schools and colleges should be doing things that help the environment.’
  • Tackling climate change and the destruction of nature and wildlife were two of the top three concerns chosen from a list of important issues facing the world. (Finding a solution to Brexit came 11th out of 13)
  • Half (49%) said that they would like to be involved with projects or activities at their school or college that help the environment.

We encourage organisations and individuals to use these findings to help make the call for more provision of environmental education. The NAEE referred to the findings their Ofsted Consultation response and Global Action Plan have quoted some statistics to help get support for their Transform Our World platform.

Here are some thoughts about the findings by Morgan Phillips, co-director, The Glacier Trust, Associate Director, Green Schools Project and former Head of Eco-Schools.

Read the full report here.

NUS and Green Schools Project Schools Sustainability Survey Report

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