Teach the Future Written evidence (EDU0027)

 

Context

  1. Teach the Future (TTF) is a youth-led campaign to urgently repurpose the entire education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis. The campaign is hosted by the education charity, SOS-UK and is led by school students and is supported by a teachers network and adult advisory board. We have made great strides in achieving our goals, having written our Climate Education Bill, and were key influencers in the publication of the Department for Education’s sustainability and climate change strategy. We have conducted research with students and teachers in secondary schools across the UK.
  2. We welcome this inquiry and hope this evidence from students at Teach the Future, which is informed by our own experiences of education and our research, will inform The Committee about curriculum, assessment and preparing students for their futures.
  3. Secondary school children report that they aren’t being taught about the solutions to climate change, being prepared to face the frightening effects of climate change or what their future lives and jobs are going to look like due to climate change. This is leading to an increasing number of students experiencing eco-anxiety and creating a low-carbon skills gap. Our student research and teacher research shows that:

          71% of students want to learn more about the environment

          84% of students agree that all schools and colleges should be encouraging and helping them to do things to help the environment

          89% of teachers report issues regarding climate change are relevant to their subject area

  1. Our recent analysis of GCSE Geography and Science exam papers (launching May 2023) reveals that only 63% of papers have any mention of climate change, sustainability or the environment, and mainly focus on the causes and almost never on the solutions. Teachers often focus on teaching topics which appear in past papers so if the exam boards do not include climate education, then it is unlikely it will be taught in the classroom.

In failing to educate future generations about the climate crisis, the government is also failing to enlighten them to the pathways they can take to avoid the worst…Today’s youth deserve to be adequately prepared for what’s to come, and the best way to achieve this is by harnessing one power: The Power of Education.”

Phoebe Thomas and Thiziri Boussaid, TTF volunteers and school students.

 

What the Government can change

  1. Review and revision of DfE’s Sustainability and Climate Change strategy to include measurable targets and provision of sufficient funding to deliver it.
  2. Implementing our Climate Education Bill to ensure teaching and learning about the climate and ecological emergency is mandatory, integrated across all subjects and assessed.
  3. Teach the Future’s ‘curriculum for changing climate’ shows what a new curriculum for England could look like by suggesting where and how the national curriculum for all primary subjects and the main secondary subjects can be amended to include sustainability and climate education.

 

The benefits of the proposed change

  1. Curriculums will be enriched by learning about climate change and sustainability in a joined-up and interdisciplinary way. This education will support young people to thrive in a net zero society and equip them with the solutions to push towards a sustainable future.
  2. Most students want to learn more about climate change, so this will help with their academic achievement and reduce student absence linked to anxiety and stress.
  3. There will be improved employability for future school-leavers who will be more motivated and better prepared to help deliver the transition to the green economy, green jobs and to plug the low carbon skills gap.
  4. Teachers would receive support and training on climate education so will be better prepared and feel more confident to educate students about the climate and ecological crisis, including the causes, impacts and solutions. The mental health and wellbeing of teachers will also likely improve when 92% of teachers are concerned about climate change. This will help improve retention of teachers.
  5. Italy has shown that reforming school education, so that education on climate change is compulsory, is publicly supported, possible and beneficial for students and teachers.

 

27 April 2023

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