Duke of Edinburgh-style award to be introduced for students tackling climate crisis

4 November 2021, 23:50

Nadhim Zahawi will make the announcement at Cop26 in Glasgow.
Nadhim Zahawi will make the announcement at Cop26 in Glasgow. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Students will be awarded with a Duke of Edinburgh-style award for taking climate action in a scheme being introduced by Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi.

The Climate Leaders Award will celebrate and recognise work in protecting the environment, with a national awards ceremony held every year.

With different levels to the award, children will be able to progress through from bronze to gold, following in similar footsteps to the Duke of Edinburgh award, which focuses on extracurricular activities.

It is one of several measures being introduced in further efforts from the Government to push for a greener future.

Among the changes will also be additional support for teachers in educating children about nature - and their impact on the world around them - through a "model science curriculum", beginning in 2023.

There will be a pilot of "energy pods" to replace gas and coal boilers as well, with school heating and hot water being supplied without any carbon emissions.

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Nadhim Zahawi said education was a "key weapon" in ensuring a greener future for the planet.

"We want to deliver a better, safer, greener world for future generations of young people and education is one of our key weapons in the fight against climate change," he explained.

"Empowering teachers in every school to deliver world-leading climate change education will not only raise awareness and understanding of the problem, but also equips young people with the skills and knowledge to build a sustainable future.

"The Cop26 summit has further amplified the UK's commitments to become a world leader in sustainability right across the education system by engaging young people and bringing them on our journey towards net zero and a green future.

"It goes beyond the classroom - our National Education Nature Park and Climate Leaders Awards will let pupils get hands-on experience of understanding, nurturing and protecting the biodiversity around them."

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James Bowen, director of policy for school leaders' union NAHT, said: "There is a huge amount of good work already taking place in schools to reduce their carbon footprint and we know this generation of pupils are passionate about bringing about meaningful change.

"A coherent national strategy is essential if we are to see real impact. The Government must be truly ambitious, not just looking to new buildings, but also at how the existing school estate can be made as environmentally-friendly as possible.

"Many schools are already actively teaching pupils about the importance of conserving and protecting our planet through their existing curriculum.

"It's vital that any work on a new model curriculum is developed in close consultation with the profession and builds on the excellent work already taking place."

A panel session is set to be hosted by the Education Secretary at Cop26 in Glasgow on Friday.