Teach the Future is a youth-led campaign to urgently repurpose the education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis. The campaign states that students aren’t being prepared to face the effects of climate change, or taught to understand the solutions, so it calls for sustainability and climate change to be taught across the curriculum, equipping students with the knowledge and skills needed for the green jobs of the future.
In January, Teach the Future published new research which showed how few secondary school teachers believe that climate change is embedded into the curriculum in a meaningful and relevant way.
Key findings include:
- Only 33% of teachers think that climate change is embedded in school curricula in a meaningful and relevant way.
- Almost a quarter (24%) of science teachers report that no aspects of climate change, the ecological crisis and the challenges that these present for humanity are embedded in the curriculum in a meaningful and relevant way.
- 75% of maths teachers think the same, but only 18% think that climate change isn’t relevant to the subject.
Fortunately, Geography fared better, with 92% of teachers believing that it is embedded into their curriculum, but it is worrying to see so many science teachers not agreeing, and sadly predictable that in most other subjects it is not covered in a meaningful way. More positively, a large majority of teachers in all subjects (even Maths!) thought that it is relevant, so it seems as though there are lots of teachers keen to deliver more on this topic, if provided the opportunity.
So how can these teachers who would like to teach more about climate change and the ecological crisis be supported to do so?
Teach the Future’s research identified what would most support teachers to embed climate change within the curriculum.
- 43% of teachers said that specific time and capacity for them to develop climate change curriculum content and would support them to embed climate change into their subject.
- 39% of teachers felt that collaboration across subjects would support climate education delivery
Green Schools Project is working to directly address the issues raised by the research. Our Zero Carbon Schools Programme is being delivered in over 40 schools around the country this year. The programme includes sessions on climate change and supports pupils to work on projects that aim to reduce the school’s carbon emissions.
Two teacher training sessions are also part of the programme. These provide the opportunity for staff to spend time exploring the issue of climate change and developing content to address it in their subject areas. It also encourages collaboration across subjects, facilitating the kind of approach that the research suggests would be welcomed by teachers.
The research makes a compelling case for schools to provide more education to pupils around climate change, the ecological crisis and challenges for humanity stemming from either or both of these issues. Schools interested in getting some support with this can register their interest in running our Zero Carbon Schools programme next year.
We hope that the Department for Education has also read the research and will provide a boost to Teach the Future’s campaign when they release their Sustainability and Climate Change strategy in April.