Climate change should be core part of school curriculum, says Labour

23 May 2019, 21:54 | Updated: 24 May 2019, 02:35

Climate change should be made "a core part of the school curriculum", the Labour Party has said.

Jeremy Corbyn's party says the current curriculum is failing to teach children about the environment properly, and says the change should apply from primary school onwards.

This would mean younger children are taught about the man-made causes of climate change.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner said: "We need to equip people with the knowledge to understand the enormous changes we face, and skills to work with the new green technologies that we must develop to deal with them.

"That must be part of a broad education that prepares pupils for adult life.

"Climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum, and under a Labour government it will be."

Labour also wants more education about "green jobs".

Climate change has been pushed up the political agenda in recent weeks, with school children striking against a perceived lack of action from the government.

Another day of strike action is planned, with many children expected to walk out of lessons in protest.

One of their main demands is changes to the national curriculum.

Pupils are benefiting from a "climate change teacher" at St Catherine's College in Eastbourne, East Sussex.

Emma Pavey is part of the UN's climate change teacher programme.

She has had special training to help her motivate and educate pupils about all aspects of the issue.

Ms Pavey told Sky News: "It's a massive issue of our time. We've got to make sure our students, our young people have the background knowledge.

"They've got to be informed and we've got to empower them with the ability to be able to make choices as they leave school as they enter the world."

The school has recently started an "eco-committee" of pupils who want to make a difference.

They have petitioned headteacher Solomon Berhane to make changes.

Mr Berhane says concern about climate change is driving positive changes in the school.

He added: "Recently, pupils came to me and said 'we've got plastic in our canteen can we remove plastic from the whole school'.

"So we now have wooden cutlery, we've taken plastic bottles out of the school and introduced water fountains. Plus our recycling bins are better."

There is a growing awareness of the issues among pupils.

One year eight student said glumly: "I'm quite angry.

"The government needs to sort this out. We're trying to give them options but they're not listening."

A Department for Education spokesperson said: "It is important that pupils are taught about climate change, which is why it is in the national curriculum as part of science and geography in both primary and secondary school.

"The curriculum also includes the knowledge pupils need to help address climate change in the future.

"For example, in design and technology pupils are taught to consider the impact of the products they design on individuals, society and the environment. Schools have the autonomy to go into as much depth on these subjects as they see fit."