Matthew Taylor writes in The Guardian that a survey says teachers in Britain feel ill-equipped to educate pupils who want to learn more about the climate crisis. Is this happening in other countries as well?
Teachers want climate crisis training, poll shows
A climate protest by students outside the Scottish parliament in March. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
A growing number of teachers want their pupils to learn more about the climate crisis and are calling for environmental training so they can prepare children for a rapidly changing world, according to a poll.
The findings from YouGov research commissioned by Oxfam come before the latest round of school climate strikes on Friday, in which it is expected that hundreds of thousands of young people will walk out of classrooms around the world.
Noga Levy-Rapoport, from the UK Student Climate Network, said the results showed teachers and students agreed there needed to be a radical overhaul of the education system in response to the climate crisis.
“It’s clear that our education system isn’t fit for purpose to equip us for the future we’re inheriting,” she said. “As things stand our generation is being led down a dark tunnel toward increasingly severe climate breakdown and uncertainty. That’s why we’re calling for radical change to centre the climate crisis as an educational priority.”
More than two-thirds of teachers polled said there should be more teaching in UK schools about climate change, while three-quarters did not feel they had received adequate training to educate students on the subject. Around 70% agreed radical change was needed to make the education system “fit for the times we live in”.
School strikes are due to take place in 80 towns and cities in the UK, with tens of thousands of students expected to take part. Meanwhile, up to 10,000 climate strike leaders from across Europe will gather in Aachen, Germany, for a pan-European rally.
The school strike movement started in August 2018 when Greta Thunberg, then 15, held a solo protest outside the Swedish parliament. Now hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren walk out of class each week to voice their concern about the ecological crisis.
In the UK, one of the campaign’s key demands has been to transform education to inform young people of the facts of the climate emergency.
Last month Labour pledged to make the climate emergency a core element of the school curriculum from primary school onwards. The shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said a future Labour government would ensure the climate crisis was an educational priority, with all young people taught about its ecological and social impact.
Issues around the climate crisis are currently covered in both science and geography at key stage 3 (KS3) for ages 11 to 14 and at key stage 4 (KS4) for ages 14 to 16. Both subjects are compulsory at KS3, while only science is compulsory at KS4. But many activists, teachers and experts say this is not enough.
The Department for Education said pupils were already taught about climate change as part of the national curriculum in science and geography in both primary and secondary school.