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Labour plans to make climate change a ‘core’ part of the UK school curriculum

Image credit: reuters

The Labour Party has said it would make climate change a “core” part of the national curriculum if it gains power.

Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has set out the plans, saying that the curriculum would also focus on the skills and knowledge that young people need to deal with the changing world, particularly in renewable energy and green technology jobs.

The announcement is timely considering how school pupils are engaging in mass walk-outs over concerns that not enough is being done to fight climate change.

One of the demands of the activists is that the national curriculum is reformed to address the ecological crisis as an educational priority.

As part of a review of the school curriculum, an expert panel will consider climate change and its impact from primary school onwards.

Teaching climate change is currently restricted to chemistry and geography in Key Stages 3 and 4.

Speaking ahead of a visit to a primary school in Greater Manchester, Rayner said: “Today, young people are taking to the streets to send a clear message to the government that climate change will be a fundamental and defining feature of their adult lives and we must take the action needed to tackle it.

“We need to equip people with the knowledge to understand the enormous changes we face and skills to work with the new green technologies that we must develop to deal with them. That must be part of a broad education that prepares pupils for adult life. Climate change should be a core part of the school curriculum and under a Labour government it will be.”

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “We welcome Angela Rayner’s announcement and what it shows about Labour’s willingness to listen to students’ concerns.

“Labour is helping to move education policy away from a sterile emphasis on testing towards a focus on new questions, essential to present day society. To address these questions effectively means not only curriculum change, but also an investment in resources and in teacher development.”

A Department for Education spokeswoman said: “It is important that pupils are taught about climate change, which is why it is in the national curriculum as part of science and geography in both primary and secondary school.

“The curriculum also includes the knowledge pupils need to help address climate change in the future. For example, in design and technology, pupils are taught to consider the impact of the products they design on individuals, society and the environment.

“Schools have the autonomy to go into as much depth on these subjects as they see fit.”

Earlier this month, the Labour Party fleshed out its plans to renationalise the UK’s energy networks which they say would help to decarbonise British electricity.

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