‘First student-written’ bill calls for climate crisis to be taught across school curriculum

·2-min read
Scarlett Westbrook from Teach the Future and MP Nadia Whittome are calling for more climate education in schools (PA)
Scarlett Westbrook from Teach the Future and MP Nadia Whittome are calling for more climate education in schools (PA)

A bill calling for the climate crisis to be taught across the whole of the school curriculum is set to be tabled in parliament, with those involved saying it is the first ever to be written by students.

Labour’s Nadia Whittome is due to propose the bill – which aims to expand climate education in school – on Tuesday.

Writing in The Independent last month, the MP said teaching on the climate crisis should be “intertwined” in all subjects across the curriculum.

She is now putting a bill forward to parliament which calls for matters related to the climate crisis and sustainability to be integrated throughout primary and secondary school curriculums, as well as in vocational training courses.

Teach the Future, a climate education campaign group led by pupils, helped to draft the bill, which it said was the first written by students to be presented to parliament in its history.

Scarlett Westbrook, the group’s 17-year-old campaigns manager, said: “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.’’

Last month, a group of education unions called for a “comprehensive review of the entire curriculum” to make sure it prepares society for a “sustainable future”.

A recent survey by Pearson, a global learning company, found most respondents believed children should start learning about the climate crisis in primary school or earlier.

“Climate change is among the biggest challenges our society faces and will profoundly impact our lives in the years to come,” Ms Whittome, the Labour MP for Nottingham East, said.

“Right now, our education system is not adequately preparing young people for their futures.”

She said the bill would mean “climate change is given the emphasis right across the curriculum that it deserves”.

It is being put before parliament as a Ten Minute Rule Bill, which allows backbench MPs to make their case for the proposed bill.

If the house decides to move forward with the bill, it will then enter its first reading.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “Climate change is already firmly established in the curriculum at primary and secondary school.

“What is more, by 2023, all teachers in all phases and subjects will have access to high-quality curriculum resources, to further support the teaching of sustainability and climate change.”

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