New Leeds council report pushes need for teaching of climate science in schools

Children in Leeds schools need to be taught about climate change in a way that will “galvanise” them into making a difference, according to a new report.

By Richard Beecham
Saturday, 30th October 2021, 11:45 am

The Climate Action Route Map prepared for Leeds City Council says schools could be expected to write their own documents on the importance of combating climate change as well as looking at altering their curriculum to better include climate science in existing subjects.

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The council declared a climate emergency in 2019 and has since stated its ambition is to create a net carbon-zero economy by 2030.

The Climate Action Route Map prepared for Leeds City Council suggests climate science could be better integrated into the curriculum. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA

The new route map lists 10 ways that children can be better taught the importance of these issues.

It reads: “The debate over the causes of climate change has a long and turbulent history which continues to this day.

“Overwhelmingly, however, the scientific community acknowledges the impact of human activity on the environment and evidence is clear that, unless the world takes urgent action to limit carbon emissions within this decade, average global temperatures will rise above 1.5ºC with catastrophic consequences.

“Increasingly professionals report a surge in ‘eco-anxiety’; a concern or worry about ecological disasters and the advertised risk to the natural environment.

“Arguably, this puts even greater emphasis on clarifying a school/settings’ position alongside an awareness of the impact of the language used when communicating with pupils.

“Key vocabulary needs to be communicated in a positive way empowering pupils to take action and seeking to galvanise their passion rather than leaving them feeling powerless, uninvolved and potentially even more anxious – a solutions focused approach.”

According to the paper, set to go before councillors next week, each school in the city should have an “action plan” to prioritise what it needs to help pupils apply their learning of climate science to real world situations.

It adds that each school could have a published “climate education position statement”, which would establish what the climate emergency would mean for their school.

The document also suggests a curriculum review takes place in schools and highlights the need to look at how to incorporate climate education in regular lessons.

The paper will be discussed when the council's Climate Emergency Advisory Committee meets on Monday, November 1.

While it is not expected to become official council policy any time soon, committee members will be invited to comment on the report and accompanying presentation.

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