Moor Allerton Hall Primary is changing its curriculum to teach climate change issues to children as COP26 summit takes place

A school in Leeds is devising its own curriculum to teach children about climate change because the issue is not in the national directive from the government.

By Emma Ryan
Wednesday, 10th November 2021, 4:45 am

Last Friday, Moor Allerton Hall Primary School staged a strike and protest resulting in the suspension of the normal curriculum so that the entire cohort of pupils, from year 1 to 6, could study environmental issues.

It came as world leaders debated climate change at the COP26 summit in Glasgow, but, Moor Allerton has been campaigning for more more to be taught in schools about the issue for the last few years.

Friday's strike, which culminated in a protest march through the play-ground, was also to show the children that they could have a voice and make political leaders listen - despite the government not making climate change a mandatory item on the national curriculum.

Moor Allerton Hall Primary school staged a strike last week at the lack of climate change coverage in the national curriculum and is making its own programme to cover environmental issues.

Headteacher, Lesley McKay said: "I suspended the national curriculum because, for primary schools, there is not anything in for them about climate change at the moment. Individual schools have chosen to do things off their own back but there is nothing that the government is expecting us to teach, we have taken the initiative ourselves. I think it is important for them to understand what is happening in the world."

The school has been working with Leeds University Climate Scientists and Leeds Development Education Centre to plan a Climate Change Curriculum for all primary school

children and using their expert input to make sure the detail is correct.

In addition, Moor Allerton Hall has been working with schools in Turkey, Italy and Germany to collaborate on a curriculum that can be used across Europe as well.

There has been talk at COP26 that the new education secretary, Nadhim Zahawi, will look at making climate change studies a part of the state curriculum in the future, but in the meantime, Moor Allerton Hall is pressing on with its own programme.

Ms McKay explained: "Regardless of what the government decides, and it does seem likely the education secretary is going to change the curriculum to include climate change, we have developed our own curriculum that we are teaching from year one upwards.

"We have been working with Leeds Development Education Centre, and they have been consulting with scientists to make sure we get the information right. And, we have been working with Turkey, Italy and Germany schools to create a curriculum that schools across Europe can use.

"We want to embed it so it is not a one-off and forgotten about and across our curriculum. We think it should be across all schools in the country, I can't affect that but I can affect my school."

While the risks and consequences of climate change to human beings and the world we live in can be quite daunting, Moor Allerton has been keen to teach it in a way that doesn't scare children but empowers them instead.

The head-teacher added: "The really important bit about it is, we don't want to raise anxiety. What we are teaching is child appropriate level and not just about what is going on in the world, which is one thing, but what they can do about it so they are not left with anxiety.

"It is a big thing for me not to scare children but to show them that their voice is important and we can get a message out, particularly while COP26 is going on. What can they do in their day to day lives like shorter showers, not using as much water in the bath, not wasting food, walking or cycling to school and all these kind of things.

"We have talked about what they can do in terms of the bigger global issues which is to pressure leaders to make decisions and that is why we did the strike and the march."

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