The case for involvement
The environmental case
The Children’s statement on climate change presented to UK delegates at the Copenhagen summit summarises the moral imperative to act:
“Climate change is not only an environmental issue: above all, it is a children’s issue. You have our future in your hands. The decisions being taken by adults today will affect our future.”
Education aims to create a positive future for young people so we must not leave the next generation to deal with the full effects of climate change.
The educational case
Sustainability is slowly being incorporated into the curriculum. However it also links well with other educational thinking:
- Every Child Matters
The publication by the Sustainable Development Commission of Every Child’s Future Mattersclearly links the engagement of a school in sustainability work to Every Child Matters, saying ‘Children’s environmental well being…their options and opportunities for experiencing a healthy environment in the future – is a critical factor in their overall well being.’
- Healthy schools
The sustainability agenda challenges us to involve young people in making their world a better and healthier place. This clearly overlaps with the aims of the healthy schools initiative.
The research case
- DCSF and Centre for Research in Education and the Environment, University of Bath
The recent publication Evidence of impact of sustainable schools sets out the educational and social benefits to young people of learning in a sustainable school.
- Institute of Education, University of Reading
The study Learning for sustainability: from the pupil’s perspective suggests that ‘Involving children in measures to improve the sustainability within the school improves motivation, general socialisation and has valuable educational outcomes’
The report on sustainable development work undertaken in fourteen schools found that ‘education for sustainability had been an important factor in improving teaching and learning more generally. This was confirmed through lesson observations in a range of subjects across the sample of schools visited.’
- National College of School Leadership
The publication Leading Sustainable Schools summarises research by UCAS and Forum for the Future which reports that a failure to address sustainability issues in education was seen extremely negatively by young people. “Young school leavers show particular concern over issues relating to sustainability and feel that until now the education system has not addressed this matter and has failed them.”
Good quality green spaces are key to challenging climate change on a local scale, however recent research suggests that we face a severe skills shortage unless more young people are encouraged into these areas of work.
More about the case for involvement