A pencil showing the climate stripes

Climate Education Action Plan

8 November 2021

Training to empower teachers to effectively incorporate climate change within their lessons and a national library of quality assured teaching resources are part of an action plan being launched to reshape climate education in UK schools.

The Climate Education Action Plan, being launched today (Monday 8 November) at COP26 by the University of Reading, comprises nine ways climate education can be immediately improved. The plan was developed in partnership with organisations including ourselves (Royal Meteorological Society), the Department for Education, Met Office, Office for Climate Education, the EAUC - Alliance for Sustainability Leadership in Education, climate solutions charity Ashden and young people, including climate youth campaigners.

The joint plan will be co-owned, led and delivered by partners, including the Department for Education (DfE), and young people.

It follows a Climate Education Summit organised by the University in September, at which young people, scientists, education specialists, campaigners and policymakers discussed how all pupils should be equipped with knowledge and skills to adapt to and help tackle the impacts of climate change and minimise future change.

Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, Head of the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences at the University of Reading, said:

“It really is vital that young people learn about the effects climate change is having on the planet and how it will impact on their lives. This will empower them to face a challenging future with confidence.

“There is a lot of great work being done by teachers and schools around the country, but we have heard loud and clear, not least from young people, that we need a step change in climate education. It is crucial that everyone including teachers, school leaders, climate researchers and policymakers work together to give all young people access to high-quality, up-to-date climate information.

“This is an issue that requires action right now. We are therefore delighted to have the support of the Department for Education and our partners to enact significant positive changes that can take place immediately. There is so much good work we can draw on to make this happen and so much energy and enthusiasm for better climate education.

“If you think you can help us deliver the action plan we would love to hear from you. The UK is so lucky to have such excellent people and organisations committed to meaningful change in climate education – the action plan needs you so come and join us.”

Professor Liz Bentley FRMetS, Chief Executive of the Royal Meteorological Society, said:

"The Royal Meteorological Society believes that every student should leave school with the basic climate literacy that would enable them to engage with the messages put forward by the media or politicians or to make informed decisions about their own opportunities and responsibilities. An understanding of climate change is inexorably linked to an understanding of weather and climate so we welcome the support for this action plan."

Among the plan’s nine strands are pledges to provide continued professional development in climate education for everyone involved in the education of children in school and college settings, and the creation of a climate award for schools, colleges and youth organisations, led by the DfE.

The Action Plan is allied with the DfE’s draft Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy announced on Friday 5 November, which also advocates the provision of training and quality resources on climate education for teachers.

RMetS joined with Summit partners to co-sign an open letter earlier this year arguing that the next generation was being let down by inadequate climate education.

More than 500 people attended the subsequent Climate Education Summit on September 15, where they heard from youth campaigners on how informal mentions of climate change during their time at school and their own independent learning had helped them engage with the issue, and discussed practical ways to support teachers in providing an understanding to all pupils aged eight to 18.

For more information on getting involved with delivering the Action Plan, contact climateeducation@reading.ac.uk