Labour pledges to put climate emergency on school curriculum

angela rayner said a labour government would make the climate crisis a core curriculum element
Angela Rayner said a Labour government would make the climate crisis a core curriculum element. Photograph: Christopher Thomond/The Guardian

Angela Rayner says a Labour government would make it a core element at primary school

— Labour has pledged to make the global climate emergency a core element of the school curriculum from primary school onwards, in response to demands by young people taking part in a series of school climate strikes.

As young activists around the world prepare for another day of strike action on Friday, Labour’s shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said a Labour government would ensure that the climate crisis was an educational priority and that all young people were taught about its ecological and social impact.

Labour is promising to review the school curriculum and provide a new focus on the knowledge and skills needed in a world increasingly shaped by climate change, with a view to better equipping young people for the green technology jobs of the future.

Environmental campaigners claim that more than 1.4 million young people around the world took part in school strikes for climate action in March. One of their key demands has been that the national curriculum should be reformed to ensure that the ecological crisis is an educational priority.

Issues around the climate crisis are currently covered in both science and geography at key stage 3 (KS3) for ages 11-14 and at key stage 4 (KS4) for ages 14-16 – both subjects are compulsory at KS3, while only science is compulsory at KS4. Activists have complained it’s not enough.

Rayner said: “Today, young people are taking to the streets to send a clear message to the government that climate change will be a fundamental and defining feature of their adult lives, and we must take the action needed to tackle it.

“We need to equip people with the knowledge to understand the enormous changes we face, and skills to work with the new green technologies that we must develop to deal with them.

“That must be part of a broad education that prepares pupils for adult life. Climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum, and under a Labour government it will be.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said pupils already learn about climate change, but he agreed that more could and should be done. “We are particularly encouraged by Labour’s plans to put more focus on learning about renewable energy and green technology jobs, as these are excellent career prospects which will help to reshape our world for the better.

“It is important to ensure that this is not just an add-on to an already packed curriculum and that it is balanced properly with all the other requirements on schools.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “It is important that pupils are taught about climate change, which is why it is in the national curriculum as part of science and geography in both primary and secondary school.

“The curriculum also includes the knowledge pupils need to help address climate change in the future. For example, in design and technology pupils are taught to consider the impact of the products they design on individuals, society and the environment.”


by Sally Weale | The Guardian

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