UCL - Teaching climate change and sustainability

9 1.2.3 Teachers’ views and experiences of climate change and sustainability education Recent polling in England has identified an appetite amongst students and teachers to enhance the provision of climate change and sustainability education in schools and has highlighted that teachers would like access to more support and training (SOS-UK, 2021; YouGov, 2019). However, these polls do not provide a detailed picture of the current state of teachers’ related practice or their professional development experiences. Research by Howard-Jones and colleagues (2021) offers further insight; their survey of teachers in England (n = 626), found that most teachers (73.7%) were already discussing climate change with their students and that teachers are ‘ready and willing to move forward with radical, action-oriented climate change education’ (ibid, 2021, p. 1675). Whilst more than half of the teachers were encouraged by their schools to teach or discuss climate change with their students, only 32% of the teachers outside of science and geography felt sufficiently resourced to do so. Thus, whilst under-resourcing in a general sense appears to be constraining teachers’ practice, little is known about the opportunities for professional development related to climate change and sustainability education in England that could help to alleviate that resourcing need. 1.2.4 Summary Climate change and sustainability education are variously understood, but there is widespread recognition that whole-school approaches are important. In England, climate change and sustainability education frequently occur as part of a subject-based curriculum with an emphasis on scientific knowledge. However, support is needed for all teachers to develop subject-based content and pedagogy so they can contribute to effective holistic, whole-curriculum, climate change and sustainability education. The calls from teachers and students to enhance climate change and sustainability education in schools, and for the necessary resources, are reflected in recent policy activity in England. Therefore, this survey is timely as it captures current practices and needs of teachers in England, which can inform policy implementation and ongoing policy development in this area, especially in relation to teacher professional development.