Right now, our education system is not adequately preparing young people for their futures.
Nadia Whittome, the youngest sitting MP in the UK Parliament, this week tabled a Ten Minute Rule Bill in Parliament calling for new legislation that would ensure young people receive more education about climate breakdown.
The bill called for matters relating to climate change and sustainability to be integrated throughout the curriculum in primary and secondary schools and included in vocational training courses. It has been written in collaboration with Teach the Future - a school-pupil-led group that campaigns for climate education.
The bill has wide cross-party support. Its co-sponsors include Jeremy Corbyn MP, Conservative MPs Philip Dunne, chair of the Environmental Audit Committee, and Robert Halfon, chair of the Education Select Committee, Green MP Caroline Lucas, Lib Dem MP Layla Moran, SNP MP Mhairi Black, and other Labour MPs including Yvette Cooper, Clive Lewis, Zarah Sultana, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Darren Jones.
In 2018, one survey found that 42 percent of pupils feel that have learnt a little, hardly anything or nothing about the environment at school and 68 percent would like to know more.
Nadia Whittome, MP for Nottingham East, said “Climate change is among the biggest challenges our society faces and will profoundly impact our lives in the years to come.
"Right now, our education system is not adequately preparing young people for their futures. This bill would mean that climate change is given the emphasis right across the curriculum that it deserves.”
Research by Teach the Future found that 70 percent of teachers feel they haven’t received adequate training to educate students about climate change.
Teach the Future has been leading a UK-wide petition asking the government to implement climate education across the curriculum. More than 25,000 people have signed the petition and other key figures have supported the call.
Just days before COP26, Ms Whittome led the first-ever debate in Parliament on climate change and sustainability in the curriculum, bringing youth climate activists into Parliament.
During COP26 the government announced a range of measures relating to climate change and the education sector, but stopped short of integrating it across the curriculum.
Campaigners hope this Bill will encourage the government to go further to legislate in order to make climate change part of the core content of all subject areas in schools, as well as providing training for teachers and decarbonising the education sector more quickly.
Scarlett Westbrook, 17, campaign coordinator at Teach the Future, said “As students, we need to be given the knowledge, skills and resources necessary in order to build a resilient society that can deal with the impacts of the climate crisis.
"We need to ensure climate education is no longer exclusive to those who take optional subjects or briefly glazed over, but instead centred in all subjects as we will all be impacted by this crisis.’’
“This bill would give students the education they need to adequately thrive as adults, and the education that we deserve.’’
Ruby Harbour is the editorial assistant at The Ecologist. This article is based on a press release from Teach the Future.