UCL - Teaching climate change and sustainability

34 These results highlight the significant influence that self-directed and self-motivated professional development has on the provision of climate change and sustainability education, a situation that reflects its position outside the structures that support and determine school priorities. Whilst further analysis is needed to understand how ‘self-taught’ is conceived and experienced, and although self-directed development might be expected and encouraged in all professions, it is problematic to rely on these approaches. Individuals are limited by the structures they operate within and their capacity for pursuing such selfdirected development will be constrained by these contexts. Most obviously, teachers who are not required by the curriculum to teach these topics are likely to be less motivated to pursue such development (possibly due to pragmatic time constraints) which will limit the potential to expand the cohort of engaged and equipped teachers. Furthermore, due to limited exposure to related professional development, teachers might have narrow conceptions of climate change and sustainability education which could, in turn, constrain the nature of the professional development that they pursue. Various opportunities for professional development can thus be identified to support a wider cohort of teachers to incorporate climate change and sustainability into their teaching practice in alignment with, and building on, the existing curriculum. These include opportunities for: • Subject-and age-phase-specific professional development for secondary and primary teachers which includes and extends beyond science and geography. • Professional development associated with teachers’ pastoral responsibilities and form tutor roles. The relatively high levels of engagement in climate change and sustainability through PSHE (56.6% of respondents reported ‘occasionally’ and 37.1% reported ‘most commonly’), indicates possibilities for positioning climate change and sustainability as fundamental to a teachers’ professional responsibility, in parallel with safeguarding (Rackley, 2021). • Communities of practice that bring together teachers of different subjects and levels could provide mutually supportive and generative teacher professional development. Given that many respondents prioritised ‘greater opportunities to collaborate with other staff to develop cross-curricula teaching materials’ as a useful area of support, these communities could provide valuable avenues for professional development. • Diverse, high-quality resources for teachers which reflect the global nature of climate change and support teachers’ critical media literacy. The two most commonly used resources to support teaching are films and videos (73.8%) and news media (62.0%) which, as Puttick and Talks (2022) discuss, are often free and easy for teachers to use and share. 4.2 The untapped potential of initial teacher education A second opportunity for enhancing teaching related to climate change and sustainability in England is through ITE. Noting that the majority of respondents completed their ITE via a university-based route (87.2%), the survey results indicated limited activity in these programmes related to climate change and sustainability. That is, about one in six respondents reported that their ITE programme included a focus on climate change and sustainability, rising to one in five for those who taught secondary geography. Given that this low reporting comes from an engaged cohort of teachers, who, in the case of geography and science teachers, are required by the National Curriculum to teach these topics, there is a clear opportunity to enhance this professional pathway. Analysis suggests that where climate change and sustainability is present