A head and shoulder profile of Prof Sylvia Knight with the copy reading 'Professor Sylvia Knight, Visiting Professor at the University of Reading

Prof Sylvia Knight appointed Visiting Professor at the University of Reading

30 January 2023

The Royal Meteorological Society’s Head of Education, Professor Sylvia Knight, has been appointed a Visiting Professor at the University of Reading, jointly with the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences and the Institute for Education.

Sylvia said: “I am truly honoured to be appointed as Visiting Professor at the University of Reading – some 20 years after I worked there first as a PhD student and then in postdoctoral research.

Through my joint appointment in the School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences and the Institute for Education, I hope to support the excellent work the University is already doing to promote and improve the teaching of climate change in UK schools, exploring the opportunities in all subject areas to better equip our young people for the green jobs, challenges and opportunities of the future.”

Having worked for the Society for almost 16 years, Sylvia has a wealth of knowledge, experience and awards for education resources available on the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) education website MetLink, averaging 13k users a month. She has supported over 43,000 people on the online Come Rain or Shine FutureLearn course developed in partnership with the University of Reading. Over the last five years, over 820 PGCE students have benefited from Sylvia’s weather and climate training.

And it doesn’t stop there, as Sylvia is working very hard to see how we can best support teachers of all subjects to use the opportunities within the current curricula and exam specifications to teach climate change. This is part of RMetS’ ambition that all students should leave school with the basic climate literacy that will enable them to engage with the messages put forward by the media or politicians. Or, make informed decisions about their opportunities and responsibilities and equip them with the skills they’ll need for future green careers.

In 2022, RMetS commissioned the very first climate literacy survey of school leavers. The survey found that just over half of pupils in their final academic year (aged 15 to 16 years old) could recall being taught about climate change in the past year, with one in five (20%) believing that they either have never been taught about it or couldn’t recall when they were taught about it. This will create a starting benchmark as the Society monitors climate literacy over the coming years.

Prof Knight is also part of the working group for the University of Reading’s Climate Education Action Plan, which was unveiled at COP26 in November 21. The project has recently reached a significant milestone of more than 100 individuals signing up to become Climate Ambassadors in partnership with STEM Learning and the University.

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