UCL - Teaching climate change and sustainability

36 4.3 Extending teachers’ practice outside the classroom Outside the classroom activities are a third opportunity to enhance teaching related to climate change and sustainability education. The majority of respondents (85.2%) reported undertaking one or more outside the classroom activities to support their teaching, with high proportions of these teachers encouraging students to take learning home to their families or participating in projects to improve their school’s sustainability or environment. There was consistently less reported activity in secondary compared with primary levels, particularly in relation to the use of school buildings and grounds and out of classroom settings to support teaching. Yet, analysis indicated that ‘more sustainability actions being taken in school to reinforce student learning’ was the second most frequently selected type of support amongst ‘top 5’ priorities (57.5%), after changes to the National Curriculum. These results indicate that many respondents recognise the educational value of school buildings and grounds, which are views that could be harnessed to situate student learning beyond the constraints of the classroom to include learning within students’ physical, everyday environments (Dillon, 2012). This is crucial as it is widely recognised that outside the classroom learning, which includes opportunities for students to have formative experiences in nature, has a lasting impact on attitudes towards the environment (e.g. Harris, 2021). As has been mentioned elsewhere in this report, this analysis does not offer explanations for the levels of engagement, although previous research (e.g., Dillon, 2012) has identified factors including self-efficacy, alongside time and financial resources, and suitability of school grounds. Thus, it is important to emphasise that any attempts to enhance this practice are not met with requests for teachers to simply do more. Constraints and barriers should be identified and taken into consideration in any initiative that seeks to increase sustainability activities in the school estate, such as the National Education Nature Park (DfE, 2022), and facilitate the use of school buildings and grounds and out of classroom settings in teaching. In so doing, such activities could have a generative impact on climate change and sustainability education in England, particularly in the way that it could support teachers of subjects other than geography and science, and in primary settings.