Teachers ‘want to encourage children to take action against climate change’

School children during an Early Years Foundation Stage class at a primary school (PA Archive)
0:01am, Wed 23 Jun 2021
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More than half of teachers in England are in favour of teaching children to take direct action against climate change, according to a survey.

The research, led by the University of Bristol, involved asking 626 primary and secondary school teachers across England for their views on climate change education.

Teachers believed almost unanimously in an action-focused climate change curriculum incorporated across subject, beginning with conservation projects in early primary school.

Results also showed 54% of those surveyed believed this should extend to participation in civil disobedience at secondary school.

Students take part in a global school strike for climate change (PA Archive)

The study, published in the journal Environmental Education Research, found that 72% of respondents were already teaching or talking about climate change with their students.

Professor Paul Howard-Jones, lead author of the work, said: “Teachers want their students to be informed in how they think and what they do about the climate emergency.

“They are ready and willing to move forward with radical, action-oriented programmes of education that can help students drive our response to climate change.”

A recent Ipsos survey found only 42% of teachers in the US were teaching or talking about climate change with their students.

In total, 97% of teachers surveyed in England believed climate change was caused by humans, compared with 39% of respondents in the US.

In England, 19% of teachers thought climate change was more important for further funding than science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) subjects.

However, only 5% of teachers in the US would prioritise climate change.

Climate activist Greta Thunberg (PA Wire)

Prof Howard-Jones, of Bristol University’s School of Education and Cabot Institute for the Environment, added: “Despite being under-represented in the National Curriculum, climate change is something many young people feel passionate about.

“School children have been inspired by Greta Thunberg, who has demonstrated the importance of peaceful protest to raise awareness of the climate crisis and spur individual as well as large-scale change.

“They have also seen the tactics of groups like Extinction Rebellion and many have become activists already.

“Our research indicates that teachers are prepared to support their activism through an action-oriented approach to Climate Change Education.

“With COP26 being hosted in the UK in November, there has never been a better time to reflect on how we’re preparing young people for the defining issue of today.

The study, ‘The views of teachers in England on an action-oriented climate change curriculum’, is published in Environmental Education Research.

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