UCL - Teaching climate change and sustainability

8 • operations including actions that improve the sustainability of school buildings and grounds, energy, waste, water, biodiversity, transport, and procurement; • teaching and learning that involves teachers and teaching teams, supported by school leadership, to develop content and pedagogy to integrate sustainability across the curriculum; and • community engagement and partnerships to support learning about and contributing to sustainability through incursions or excursions, community projects, or engaging parent communities in schoolground improvements (examples in England include SEEd1, GreenSchools Project2 and EcoSchools3). Elsewhere, sustainability education can be viewed in terms of developing competencies or, in policy discourse, in terms of ‘green skills’ (e.g. Department for Education [DfE], 2022). Subject-based approaches are also an important part of climate change and sustainability education. Disciplinary-knowledge rooted in a subject-based curriculum has the potential to provide a range of distinctive perspectives which collectively equip young people to think critically, empathetically and imaginatively about the challenges of climate change and sustainability. Whilst wider research underlines the value of whole-curriculum approaches, in England4 the organisation of the secondary curriculum lends itself to a more subject-based approach. Although opportunities for cross-curricular and holistic approaches have tended to be more apparent in the primary and Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) contexts, primary schools are also expected to have strong disciplinary focus with Ofsted evaluating the extent to which the ‘curriculum is coherently planned and sequenced towards cumulatively sufficient knowledge and skills for future learning and employment’ (Ofsted, 2022, no page). Therefore, in England, recognising and supporting quality subject-based approaches is key to enhancing climate change and sustainability education in schools. 1.2.2 Policy context in England Currently, in England, the National Curriculum includes climate change and sustainability in secondary geography and science (Dawson et al., 2022) and, in principle, it affords teachers flexibility to incorporate related content across their teaching (DfE, 2014) (discussed further in Section 4). In addition to the curriculum, the UK Government’s Sustainability and climate change strategy for the education and children’s services system (DfE, 2022) sets out priorities for England across five action areas (Climate Education, Green Skills and Careers, Education Estate and Digital Infrastructures, Operations and Supply Chains, International) and three key initiatives (National Education Nature Park, Climate Action Awards, Sustainability Leadership). Amongst the action areas and initiatives, and of key interest for this survey, is the strategy’s commitment to provide ‘additional support to teachers of all levels’ in relation to climate change and sustainability education (ibid., no page). 1 https://se-ed.org.uk/our-work/whole-institution-school-approach-sustainability/ 2 https://www.greenschoolsproject.org.uk/ 3 https://www.eco-schools.org.uk/ 4 In England, schooling is organised in levels and stages: early years foundation stage (3 – 5-year-olds); primary school includes Key Stage 1 (5 – 7-year-olds) and Key Stage 2 (7 – 9-year-olds); secondary school includes Key Stage 3 (12 – 14-year-olds), Key Stage 4 (14 – 16-year-olds) and Key Stage 5 (16 – 18-year-olds). Key Stage 5 is a term used to describe Year 12 and Year 13, although it is not formally used in the National Curriculum.