Teaching primary pupils that humans harm the planet can be our ‘key weapon’ in the fight against climate change, the Education Secretary claimed yesterday.
Nadhim Zahawi is to urge schools to equip children as young as five with ‘the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable future’.
Teachers will also be encouraged to install bird boxes and other wildlife features on school grounds to boost ‘biodiversity’.
Primary schools will now be required to include climate change into their science curriculum. Secondary schools will be taught how to address this topic in English and other subjects.
The plans were welcomed by the UN last night – although one critic raised fears that fuelling ‘panic’ among pupils could damage their mental health.
Britain’s Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi is to urge schools to equip children as young as five with ‘the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable future’ (Zahawi pictured October 27, 2021)
Primary schools will now be required to include climate change into their science curriculum. Secondary schools will be shown how to address this topic in other subjects such as English (stock photo).
The Department for Education said the green policy, to be formally announced by Mr Zahawi today at the Cop26 summit, will ‘put climate change at the heart of education’.
Although teaching the new content will be voluntary, schools will be told it is ‘best practice’ to take it on board.
Climate change is already on secondary schools’ statutory national curriculum in science, citizenship and geography.
The DfE wants it covered in other subjects and will issue lesson plans to help teachers.
The national curriculum does not include any mention of climate change in primary schools.
In the future, officials would like to see simple references to it during science classes. This could include telling children about how humans can damage the environment while studying the natural world.
The DfE said its new, voluntary ‘model science curriculum’ for primaries will be issued by 2023. It will demonstrate how to ‘teach children about nature and their impact on the world around them’.
Mr Zahawi said of the plans: ‘Empowering teachers in every school to deliver world-leading climate change education will not only raise awareness and understanding of the problem, but also equips young people with the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable future.
‘Cop26 has further amplified the UK’s commitments to become a world leader in sustainability across the education system.’
Scarlett Westbrook (17) Campaigns Manager for Teach the Future and Nadia Whittome (17), youngest sitting MP, call to climate education for young people at Westminster (October 27, 2020).
He will also announce the new Climate Award, which is similar to Duke of Edinburgh. The award recognizes students who work on local environment projects and educate others.
In addition, plans to replace gas boilers with green ‘energy pods’ which do not cause any carbon emissions will be trialled in schools.
If they are successful, they could be extended to other public sector buildings.
UNESCO’s Stefania Giannini said yesterday that she ‘welcomed’ Mr Zahawi’s speech. But former government education adviser Chris McGovern said of the new lessons: ‘Teachers need to avoid causing panic and over- reaction. Schools already suffer from a mental health crisis.
‘It would be better to teach children how humanity has overcome problems in the past, such as how the agriculture and industrial revolutions prevented the Malthusian prediction of mass starvation.’