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New plans have been announced by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi today (Thursday 21 April), detailing how the UK education sector is to become a world leader in climate change by 2030, as part of the launch of the government’s flagship Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy.

ECCI Director Professor Dave Reay advised on the strategy and ECCI are continuing to work with the Department for Education on the international dimensions of their sustainability and climate change work.

Climate change education

A new Natural History qualification will enable young people to explore the world by learning about organisms and environments, environmental and sustainability issues, and gain a deeper knowledge of the natural world around them.

They will also develop the skills to help them carve a future career in the natural world if they wish to – for example observation, description, recording and analysis, through sustained and structured field study.

The government will also confirm its plans to accelerate the rollout of carbon literacy training to support at least one sustainability lead in every locally maintained nursery, school, college and university. The training will support settings to develop climate action plans that will bring together and drive activity to improve climate education, put in place measures to protect them against the effects of climate change, and increase climate resilience through adaptation initiatives.

The Education Secretary will also pledge greater support for teaching climate change at all levels and by 2023 there will be new requirements for further education teachers to build sustainability into their teaching.

Young people will also be able to bolster their environmental education gained in existing subjects, including changes to landscapes and urbanisation in geography, and habitats and ecosystems in science.

Climate Ambassadors

The Climate Ambassador Scheme, also launched today (Thursday 21 April), will provide schools and colleges around the UK with access to leading experts working on climate.

Supported by ECCI, and led collaboratively by the University of Reading and STEM Learning, the scheme involves partners from universities and research institutions around the UK, and will support the new Department for Education Sustainability and Climate Change strategy.

The scheme will link experts with local schools and colleges to receive free advice to develop their own climate plans. Climate Ambassadors will help to provide tailored advice and training to schools and colleges.

Examples of activities that Climate Ambassadors might get involved in include teacher training days, fact-checking resources for teachers, advice to school leaders or governors on cutting carbon emissions, or even making practical suggestions on when to schedule sports days to avoid heat stress.