Why Take Action?
Taking action at school is key in fighting against climate change. Informing students and young people on the effects of climate change and sharing best practice examples of climate action can play a very important role in shifting towards more sustainable behaviours, both at school and at home.
There is a variety of resources to enable teachers to include climate change in their school curriculum and these have been summarised below.
Eco Schools Scotland empowers young people to improve our environment. The scheme helps students to engage in community climate action and help towards making their school more eco friendly. Students also benefit from more outdoors/interactive activities, which can include visiting rivers and testing the health of the water, discovering what wildlife it supports, taking fieldtrips to peatlands and identifying plants and the importance of peatlands, or creating artwork about nature and climate change.
Eco Schools Scotland have awarded Coupar Angus Primary School their Fifth Green Flag in recognition of their ongoing commitment to the environment. They commented that they “commend the work that Coupar Angus Primary School has been doing over the last few years. It was a joy to read how the pupils and the local community have been getting involved with their Eco-Schools Journey.” The school has accomplished the following achievements and several children received their John Muir Award during the course of these projects:
- Planting of trees and identification of wildlife through the Butterybank Community Woodland Project and local Burn Project
- Creation of an Interpretation Board which was unveiled at the opening of the Woodland
- An activity day arranged in the woodland for the whole school and families to enjoy and learn about the woodland
The school has focussed on re-using and recycling by forming a Uniform Bank where families can hand in school uniform in good condition that is no longer used. Also, crisp bags were collected to raise money for the Scottish Air Ambulance and reduce litter, some of the crisp bags were transformed by the Eco Club into Aprons and Purses
The following themes are being promoted by Education Scotland, local authorities and partner organisations:
Nature: How we respond to the twin biodiversity and climate crisis and how nature and people can thrive together.
Finance: how global and individual decisions impact on climate and biodiversity.
Energy transition: how we move from fossil fuels to renewables and become more energy efficient in our daily lives.
Clean transport: how walking and cycling and public transport can help tackle the climate and biodiversity crisis.
Adaptation and resilience: how people and communities respond and adapt across the world and how we can build resilience.
Aims and Outcomes
Schools should focus on the following aims and outcomes:
- To raise awareness of climate justice and climate change as well as actions that can be taken (age and stage appropriate). In particular the drive towards “Net Zero” (producing less carbon than we take out of the atmosphere).
- To enhance practitioner understanding of, and include in their teaching practice, Sustainable Development Goals 13, 16 and 10 (and other Global Goals as appropriate). This also links to GTCS refreshed standards.
- To create and sustain a professional learning network to provide resources, training and support.
- To support the creation of a PKC wide Pupil Forum in which pupils across all schools can work collaboratively to develop the skills, knowledge and attributes in taking decisions that will lessen the impact on the environment.
- All children and young people across PKC will know what climate justice and climate change is and actions that can be taken (age and stage appropriate).
- All children young people will have the skills, knowledge and attributes to take decisions that will lessen the impact on the environment.
- All practitioners will develop their understanding of, and include in their teaching practice, Sustainable Development Goal 13, 16 and 10 (and other Global Goals as appropriate).
- All children, young people and families can and do make sustainable choices supported by their wider community, local and national government to live sustainable lifestyles as informed and committed global citizens.
PKC Learning Focus
To achieve these aims and outcomes, it is recommended that schools:
- Plan learning about what climate change is and how human activity has affected our environment.
- Develop opportunities to promote ‘Climate Justice’ and how some communities, countries and societies are more adversely affected by climate change than others.
- Continue to work on reduce, reuse and recycle in relation to; litter including plastics, food waste, food growing, fast fashion, over consumption and carbon emissions.
- Highlight how renewable energy and technology and changing habits can help us live in a more sustainable way.
- Enhance learner understanding of local environments and the environment in other world areas. For example habitats, biodiversity and interdependence and how to support local biodiversity.
In light of these recommendations, schools should therefore continue to refine their curriculum offers and remain cognisant of the following national themes to address climate change.
Learning for Sustainability (LfS) in Perth & Kinross Council
Climate change is addressed through combining experiences and outcomes across curriculum areas in a variety of contexts as part of the theme of LfS. LfS helps learners develop the skills, knowledge and values to live economically, socially and environmentally sustainable lifestyles. Scotland’s “Vision 2030+ Report” provides a strategic plan and 14 recommendations on how Education Scotland plans to support Learning for Sustainability up to 2030. GTCS Professional Guide: Learning for Sustainability provides support for teachers to reflect on their practice in the context of the Professional Standards for Teachers, and to consider aspects of Learning for Sustainability that may need further advice or professional learning. Page 6 contains key questions for reflection.
There are several tools which can help you to create clarity about Learning for Sustainability and which area you wish to focus on. A gap analysis can be carried out about where you are now, and where you would like to be. The tools could be used independently or as whole setting/community.
Science, Technologies, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)
There are a wide range of resources looking at sustainability issues within sciences, technologies, engineering and mathematics. This includes topics on energy-saving houses, renewables, water and food security and electric transport.
Developing the Young Workforce (DYW)
Schools may decide to use DYW frameworks and guidance to promote opportunities for learners to engage with employers in a range of contexts which promote COP26, “Net Zero” targets etc. There is scope for learners to discover how employers intend to support the green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic through new technologies.
Through Global Citizenship Education C&YP can learn and engage in Sustainable Development Education, Outdoor Learning and Global Citizenship. Within this theme there is also the chance for learners to acquire knowledge and skills in relation to the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
WWF’s guide for teachers on introducing climate change to their students provides an excellent start with two simple activity ideas that can be used both in a dedicated climate change module and as part of related topics. This includes an introduction on what climate change is, why it is happening, its importance and why its is important to teach climate change in primary education.
WWF also provide lesson plans and supporting resources for teachers and educators of young people (7-14 years old)
Earth Hour is at 20:30 on the 26th of March this year. On the last Saturday of March every year, millions of people across the globe show their support for our planet by switching off their lights at home, streets and buildings. In 2021, people from 192 countries and territories came together and photos of dark neighbourhoods, cities and skylines were trending all over social media. This online resource can be used by students and their families at home in the days leading up to Earth Hour 2022 and after the event.
Our Planet is a series which shows the natural resources we risk losing because of climate change while it highlights the fact that there is still time to act if we act now. This online resource includes activities for both primary and secondary students to help build their knowledge and understanding of environmental issues, as well as to raise awareness of climate action while developing their skills in doing so.
Climate change youth commissions and conferences are being used to engage young people in climate change. There are many ways that these can be run. Young people can lead engaging workshops on different themes e.g. waste, transport, discussing how they can make a difference in reaching net zero. People from community organisations can also attend and do presentations on their work and how they are mitigating climate change. The conference can also include tasks such as asking young people to create and work on their climate change action plans, that will be further discussed when back in their schools. Everyone attending can also write pledges for change, either personally or for their school community.
Highland Council involved young people in their Highland Climate Change Conference. The participants heard how they can take action in the Highlands and shared their views at the associated workshops.
Schools across East Ayshire took part in Young People's Climate Conference. The conference was split into four key themes that are set out in the Council’s Climate Change Strategy – Energy, Transport, Waste and Natural Environment. Young people led engaging workshops on the four themes and were joined by children and young people from schools across East Ayrshire to discuss their ideas for change, where they were encouraged to ‘think big’ to help East Ayrshire achieve net zero by 2030.
The young people also updated their peers on action taken by the Council since the first climate conference, which was held in October 2019. These actions include replacing the existing vehicle fleet with electric vehicles and installing electric vehicle charging points; introducing smarter working arrangements (pre-pandemic) to enable the reduction of office accommodation, introducing changes within our kitchens to ensure that food waste is recycled rather than sent to landfill and taking action to reduce carbon consumption in our buildings by improving insulation, installing biomass fuelled boiler plants, increasing solar pv installations and installing air-source heat pumps for heating at our new Early Childhood Centres.
Following the workshops, the Education Service launched a new scheme the EAC Clean Green School Award. This award will be open to all educational establishments. Schools will select at least two themes from the Climate Change Strategy and scope out suitable actions, which will encourage wider change within their communities and deliver sustainable change.
Young people were given time to start work on their climate change action plans, that will be further discussed when back in their schools. Everyone attending also wrote pledges for change, which were personal or for their school community. This included switching off lights when they leave a room, planting trees, recycling food waste, not taking ages in the shower and walking to school.
Schools can consider setting up a climate ambassador programme which would be a great opportunity to have pupils become a leader in their school to promote positive climate actions in a local context. This could potentially include actions similar to what is done through eco schools e.g. starting a cycling club or permaculture garden. It could also involve people from Perth and Kinross becoming ‘Climate Ambassadors’ (as well as students) by talking about their climate related jobs in schools e.g. environmental engineer, greenspace, waste specialist, sustainability consultant, etc. This will let children know about the different variety of ‘green jobs’ in the market and how organisations are working to mitigate climate change. Various talks could be hosted online by specialists with different themes e,g, biodiversity, renewable energy, etc. There could be a climate ambassador from each school to feedback what they’ve learned from attending these online sessions.
Green Ambassadors, is a flagship programme for schools, about encouraging a new generation of sustainability champions. Being part of WWF's Green Ambassador scheme provides everything you'll need to set up or re-invigorate your school's green team so your pupils can really take ownership of sustainability in your school. As well as tools to help your green team you'll have access to a range of curriculum linked resources on topical environmental issues.
Programmes can focus on a variety of actions including:
- Start A Climate Awareness Campaign
- Calculate Your School’s Carbon Footprint
- Go Plastic Free
- Start A Library of Things
- Citizen Science
- Start a Swap Shop
- Permaculture Garden
- Build A Composter
- Plant for Pollinators
- Invest In A Waterbutt
- Start A Cup Campaign
- Start A Cycling or Walking Club
- Run a Mass Cycling Event
- Have a “Meat-Free” Day at School
- Set Up A Biodiversity Garden
- Make tote bags from old t-shirts
If you are interested to start a climate ambassador programme, please contact us to discuss further.
Perth & Kinross Council have recently produced new Tree Planting Guidance highlighting key information and considerations for tree planting in school grounds. Planting trees provides fun outdoor learning and helps to teach children about climate change.
We encourage all schools to consider their school grounds tree planting potential and involve pupils in caring for their environment to create a positive impact on the climate.
Native trees are available free for schools from the Woodland Trust and Carbon Footprint Ltd. Planting trees helps create woodland habitat, increases biodiversity, and provides an excellent learning resource.
The new guidance summarises steps to be taken before planting, for carrying out your planting, and for aftercare.
Advice to be considered before planting include the location of tree planting, underground services checks, suitable species for the location, best growing conditions, future maintenance, and calculating saplings needed for the available space.
The guidance also illustrate how to store your trees when they arrive, how to plant for a more natural look, and the different types of planting that can be undertaken.
After planting your trees will require aftercare and maintenance. The guidance provides important information on checking you have the right tools, caring for your trees, and enhancing your space.
Build the Change from Lego asks learners aged 8-12 to come up with 3 instructions to give world leaders to protect our planet from climate change. These will then be shared at the conference. Instructions need to be received by 15th September to be included. An educator guide can be accessed here.
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