Climate change education in Scotland’s classrooms is vital to equip younger generations with skills to combat the crisis.
That’s the message from a team of schoolchildren and students battling to ensure their peers are taught about the ecological emergency facing them.
Teach the Scotland believes that more should be done in classrooms to educate young people across the curriculum about climate change.
The campaign group – borne from Scottish Youth Climate Strike with the support of the National Union of Students Scotland – is fighting for inclusion of climate change education in teacher training.
It also wants the Scottish Government to commission a review into how the education system is preparing students for the crisis.
Fife Council has become the first local authority in Scotland to formally back the campaign.
Talks are ongoing with the Scottish Liberal Democrats over inclusion in the party’s manifesto for the forthcoming Scottish Parliament.
Who is Teach the Future?
The driving force behind the campaign hoping to bring a revolution in climate change education is around a dozen youngsters aged 15 to 20 from around Scotland.
They include Tess, 16, from Perth, and Hannah, 17, from Dundee.
Lily Henderson, 16, from Inverness, told us about the action, launched at the Scottish Parliament back in April.
She explained: “It’s really important my generation is able to teach future generations about climate change.
“For that to happen we need to talk about climate change and climate justice and what we can do.
“Sadly, we’ve known about climate change for ages but it’s only recently we’ve started waking up to it as a society.”
Better education in school would prepare younger generations for what is to come, she said.
“We are already seeing the effects of climate change,” she said.
I know what’s going to happen, I’ve educated myself… but I know lots of my peers don’t have that education and that’s really worrying.”
Lily Henderson, 16
“I know what’s going to happen, I’ve educated myself online and by reading but I know lots of my peers don’t have that education and that’s really worrying.
“If we get our asks through parliament and implemented in schools then everyone should be at the same level on what climate change and the ecological crisis is going to do and what they can do to help stop it.”
Teach the Future believes the Scottish education system is misaligned from systemic changes urgently need to make society just and sustainable, and routinely fails to educate and prepare young people to abate and stop the climate emergency.
It cites a UK-wide survey of teachers in May last year which found that 75% felt they were not adequately trained to teach about climate change, and a survey in January which found that 71% of adults thought learning about the climate change should be part of the school curriculum.
Four asks are made by the group:
- A government-commissioned review into how the Scottish education system is preparing students for the climate emergency and ecological crisis;
- Inclusion of the climate emergency and ecological crisis in teacher training and creation of a new professional teaching qualification;
- Increased priority of sustainability in school inspections;
- A Scottish climate and biodiversity emergency education act.
UK-wide Teach the Future has the support of over 130 organisations, including Friends of the Earth, Greenpeace and the RSPB.
In Scotland its young members have their sights set on May’s parliamentary election, when they hope to win the support of those who will make up the new parliament.
Meetings have already been held with some party leaders and senior politicians, including Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary John Swinney, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie and Councillor Stephen McCabe, of Cosla.
Emails sent to every councillor in Scotland, led Fife Council to become the first local authority to pass a motion supporting the group’s asks.
Lily said: “We hope that now we have one council supporting us it will trigger motions from other councils which would really help our campaign to get this through the Scottish Parliament.”
Fife Council agreed unanimously to the motion proposed by its Liberal Democrat education spokesman, Councillor James Calder.
Mr Calder said: “With the climate emergency becoming increasingly critical, this is something that cuts across party lines.
“The council will now be supporting encouraging the Scottish Government to take further action to support climate change education.
“The Teach the Future organisation’s asks are sensible and a positive way forward.”
Welcoming Fife Council’s agreement to also produce a report on climate change education, he added: “Hopefully we can continue to ensure climate change will continue to be high up in our priorities when it comes to education. It is important for our future as a planet.”