Teaching about climate change – A report into climate change and sustainability education in schools

Public First spoke to school leaders, teachers, young people and parents to understand climate change and sustainability education in schools.

Our research made clear that climate change – and education about climate change – is an important issue for all involved in education. An overwhelming majority of parents (72%) see schools as the best place for this education to happen. However, it is also clear from our research that the availability and consistency of climate change and sustainability education at the moment could be higher, and that teachers would benefit from further support to facilitate this.

What we found when we spoke to teachers was a desire to teach these issues more, but a sense that their schools did not give them the time, confidence or resources to teach about climate change to a high degree of quality. As such, they were worried about leaving their students more confused or anxious.

The key policy implications from our findings are:

1. There is space for an external body or organisation to provide the support that teachers and leaders say they need to improve the availability and consistency of climate change and sustainability education, free of charge.

2. Across schools and academy trusts, senior leaders (including sustainability leads) should think about what more can be done to embed climate change and sustainability within the wider ethos and culture of their school(s).

3. Government may wish to consider including climate change and sustainability more substantially and in more detail across the national curriculum and within GCSE criteria. By this we mean ensuring they have both sufficient time and space in the curriculum and are embedded across a wide range of subjects.

You can read the full report here.