Imperial in the news: the future of climate change in schools

Debate in geography classes around climate change might be a thing of the past

On Monday, The Guardian reported moves by the Government to remove the topic of climate change from school geography lessons.

The situation raised concerns among policy makers and researchers. Under the new proposals the curriculum for geography up to the age of 14 would not specifically teach anything about climate change or its social and political implications.  The science of climate change would instead be taught in chemistry classes..

Policy makers argue that there has been a positive impact by the current generation in tackling climate change, thanks in part to debate and discussion in geography classes. This could be lost if pupils are taught the ‘building blocks’ of climate science, but not the social or political implications of the topic in the future.

The Department for Education’s consultation is still under way, and though scientists and climate groups have been shocked at the suggestions, geography teachers are broadly backing them.

Sarah Lester (Grantham Institute of Climate Change) was quoted by The Guardian, stating that geography lessons on climate change were the space for wider debate based on the teaching of science, RE and citizenship classes. She added that without the “building blocks” of this discussion children would not be able to fully understand some of the issues around it.

A lack of key terms such as ‘sustainability’, ‘reduction of energy use’ and ‘climate change’ itself were also missing from every part of the curriculum, something that could be a catastrophic error in teaching for the future she argued in an opinion piece for The Independent.

She has also written for the College website further explaining her views around this.

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