Following campaigning by WWF and others, education secretary Michael Gove announced today that climate change will be reinstated in the geography national curriculum at Key Stage 3 (age 11-14) in schools in England. But even though Michael Gove has listened to the headline demands on climate change, he has weakened the overall school curriculum when it comes to sustainable development. This government once pledged to be the greenest yet (something of a joke now!), but that message doesn’t seem to have reached the education department.
Of particular concern is the lack of coverage of sustainability and climate change in the primary curriculum. Even at a young age, children have a right to the skills, understanding and knowledge they need for a sustainable future. At secondary level, students will only be required to learn the facts about how people are causing climate change. Missing is the broader understanding and debate about sustainable interaction with the environment on which we all depend. There is no longer any reference to sustainable development in any part or stage of the curriculum.
This contrasts with the previous curriculum, which included as an overall aim to ‘develop their [pupilsí] awareness and understanding of, and respect for, the environments in which they live, and secure their commitment to sustainable development at a personal, national and global level.’ If government won’t show leadership around the sustainability agenda in schools, it will be up to schools themselves to take up the challenge. Fortunately, there are schools out there doing just that, using the greater flexibility offered by the slimmed-down core curriculum.
(From WWF, July 8 2013).