Image of Climate education: where on Earth do I start?

Climate education: where on Earth do I start?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not the only one. A recent survey* on sustainability and climate change education sent to staff in education settings has revealed that some 78% don’t feel that their school is ready to meet DfE expectations on sustainability and climate change, and 72% don’t feel confident in delivering climate education and sustainability in National Curriculum subjects.

Lack of knowledge, training and resources

Asked to name barriers to implementing a sustainability and climate change curriculum, respondents cited over and again a lack of knowledge, understanding and training. With this feedback came the powerful message that education settings are already struggling with curriculum overload, and, for many, sustainability and climate change have not yet been established as top education priorities.

Climate reality

It’s worth reiterating the reality of the climate crisis at this point, since the apathy, cynicism and denial that some of the respondents in our survey cited as barriers go hand in hand with a lack of knowledge and understanding of the issue.

The UN’s latest climate report, published in April 2022, written by hundreds of leading scientists and agreed by 195 countries, makes the stark prediction that it’s “now or never to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees”. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, UNESCO’s Education for sustainable development goals: learning objectives, and the DfE’s Sustainability and climate change strategy, all highlight the crucial role of education in addressing what the DfE terms ‘this formidable challenge’.

Market-leading CPD

If the pressure is on for schools to initiate and progress climate action and education, we’ve collated a market-leading CPD programme, in conjunction with experts in the field, to help you develop a whole-school approach to the issues.

 A good place to start is our webinar on the DfE’s sustainability and climate change strategy which sets out the government’s vision that, “the United Kingdom is the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030”. Our webinar explains the key areas of the policy paper, including the aims of the strategy, the initiatives that are to drive the strategic objectives, and how the DfE expects to achieve its goals.

Climate education lead

Our Advanced Certificate in the Role of the Designated Climate Education Lead helps develop the role of the climate education lead in schools. The course provides insight into role and responsibilities of the climate education lead, and helps develop leadership excellence to support high-quality teaching and learning, in line with DfE curriculum expectations.

Cross-curricular climate education

We’re also helping schools to take a cross-curricular approach to climate change education, building on the idea in the DfE’s strategy that discrete subjects can be used as a vehicle to deliver climate education. Our subject-specific webinars explain how primary and secondary schools can interweave climate literacy across the curriculum, with practical examples and activities to develop a whole-school approach to climate education.

Truth and hope

The DfE’s strategy underlines the importance of communicating science fact, whilst offering pupils hope that “they can be agents of change, through hands-on activity and, as they progress, through guidance and programmes allowing them to pursue a green career pathway in their chosen field”.

Climate adaptation and decarbonisation activity within the education estate obviously brings with it powerful learning opportunities for pupils. Our programme includes webinars offering schools practical guidance on steps they can take immediately to start their journey towards zero carbon, involving and empowering pupils to lead projects and address climate change in their communities.

Partnering with the best

Continuing the theme of hands-on education, we have released free webinars, delivered in collaboration with WWF-UK, the world’s leading independent conservation organisation, which invite schools to embark on a whole-school journey towards sustainability, also engaging pupils and the wider community along the way.

Our full CPD programme for climate education is constantly growing in response to schools’ needs and new policy, practice and research. Recent additions include teaching about climate change and world’s oceans and encouraging student agency and empowering student voice. We also offer expert guidance on introducing climate education in early years, in association with Earth Warriors, the world's first organisation to provide a climate education curriculum for 3 to 11-year-olds using a positive and empowering approach. In response to new government guidance, we immediately release CPD identifying what schools need to know and do, and explaining, where appropriate, your statutory responsibilities.

School Membership

You might also consider our School Membership package which represents unrivalled value for money, granting the whole school workforce instant and unlimited access to hundreds of webinars, courses and resources, including our full climate education programme, and school leaders full CPD management via our state-of-the-art online hub. 

* Survey of 867 staff in education settings in the UK undertaken by YouGov on 6 September 2022 on behalf of The National College