A speech I gave which explored the climate change education agenda. This was a multi-agency rally in Carlisle for the Climate Day of Action in October 2021.
Climate Rally Talk
Thank you so much for having me here today. I feel really proud, on this national day of Climate Action, to be here in front of this amazing rally. As a headteacher, I already have privilege – and I see first hand just how motivated, concerned and eager our young people are to make a difference. To make things better. Seeing you all here as well, is just brilliant. Exactly what we need to see.
I want to talk to you today about teachers, and about schools, teachers play a pivotal role in our children’s outlook and future careers. I was able to complete the Climate Change Course from the united nations around three years ago – and it really opened my eyes. Learning about the impact – not some possible future, but what is happening now, from temperature changes to water levels and soil quality – was worrying. Exploring the way in which current issues are affecting some of the poorest nations in the world was heart breaking, but – and very importantly- learning how we can help was just what I needed to hear. It is more than tree planting and recycling.
The current education secretary does, apparently, want to put climate change at the heart of education. And this is gratifying to hear – schools, already do so much. We already encourage our pupils to think about their actions, and the actions of their family or community. We already give ownership, stewardship, of their environment and their planet. Deforestation, trading and human geography is already on the curriculum this is true. But this is not enough, and is not, what the education secretary indeed to focus on. Our teachers need to know the issues and the impact, our schools needs to be clear on the science – and we need to give our young people a grounding in all of this so that they can grow up knowing it is not futile. Our children should grow up with skills and the knowledge to make a difference, with the resilience and creativity to take advantage of new career paths. The new policies announced this week in draft from deal with career education, with net zero demands for large contractors, with food waste and with resources for the teaching of, and adoption of, sustainable literacy.
But we need to ensure this given the resources that it will need. It cannot be another stick to beat schools with, another checklist, another ofsted accountability target. Our leaders, our government need to set an example, we need to make it a priority for teacher training now. We need to make sure parents are on side, that our communities understand the need for schools to take a science based, practical and career led lead. Our young people deserve world class resources and facilities, qualifications that support their goals, and an education that will allow them to understand the world around them.
This is why I am so glad for events like this today. It gives me hope – and it should give you all hope too. Schools are such an amazing resource – let’s make sure they are given the support and resources they need to do it.