Following campaigning by WWF and others, education secretary Michael Gove announced today that climate change will be reinstated in the geography national curriculum at Key Stage 3 (age 11-14) in schools in England. Thanks to all our supporters who wrote to their MPs on this issue – this change in policy is down to you and thousands of people who called for climate change to stay in the curriculum.
But even though Michael Gove has listened to the headline demands on climate change, he’s weakened the overall school curriculum when it comes to sustainable development. This government pledged to be the greenest yet, but that message doesn’t seem to have reached the education department.
We’re particularly concerned about the lack of coverage of sustainability and climate change in the primary curriculum. Even at a young age, children have a right to the skills, understanding and knowledge they need for a sustainable future.
And even at secondary level, students will only be required to learn the facts about how people are causing climate change. Missing is the broader understanding and debate about sustainable interaction with the environment on which we all depend. There’s no longer any reference to sustainable development in any part or stage of the curriculum.
This contrasts with the previous curriculum, which included as an overall aim to “develop their [pupils’] awareness and understanding of, and respect for, the environments in which they live, and secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, national and global level.”
If government won’t show leadership around the sustainability agenda in schools, it will be for schools themselves to take up the challenge. There are many schools out there doing just that: we urge every school to do so, using the greater flexibility offered by the slimmed-down core curriculum.
And WWF will continue to support schools and young people in learning about climate change and sustainability. Find out more about our work with schools and young people.