Green issues are to be covered in primary school for the first time

Green issues are to be covered in primary school for the first time

November 4, 2021

Children as young as five will be taught to be little eco-warriors as green issues are to be covered in primary school for the first time

  • Zahawi will tell primary schools to include climate change in the curriculum
  • Secondary schools will also address climate change outside of science lessons
  • The DfE said the plans will ‘put climate change into the heart of education’ 
  • The UN has welcomed the plans despite one critic saying it could cause ‘panic’ 

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’.

For the first time, primary schools will be told to include climate change in the science curriculum. Secondary schools will be shown how to address the topic in other subjects, such as English.

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)

For the first time, primary schools will be told to include climate change in the science curriculum. Secondary schools will be shown how to address the topic in other subjects, such as English (stock image)

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. 

But the DfE now wants it covered in other subjects too, and will issue lesson plans showing teachers how to do so.

In primary schools there is currently no specific reference to climate change in the national curriculum. 

In future, officials want simple references to it during science lessons. This could include telling children that humans can harm the environment when examining 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, (L) Campaigns Manager of Teach the Future and Nadia Whittome, the youngest sitting MP, call for climate education for young people at Westminster (October 27, 2021)

He will also announce a new Climate Award, similar to the popular Duke of Edinburgh scheme, with pupils rewarded for working on local environment projects or educating 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 successful, they could be rolled out to other public sector buildings, too.

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. We already have a mental health epidemic in schools.

‘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.’

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