Campaign: Climate Change: Education


March 2021


Thank you for contacting me about a potential Climate Emergency (and Biodiversity) Education Act.

First let me assure you that I take climate change extremely seriously, as I know my colleagues across Government do. This shows in the ambitious action taken by the UK.

For example, the UK was the first country to legislate to eliminate our contribution to climate change by 2050, and is the fastest in the G20 to cut emissions. The Government has announced around £2 billion for new policies since setting the net zero targets and the Prime Minister-chaired Cabinet Committee on Climate Change continues to ensure all arms of government are focussed on tackling this challenge. At the same time, the Environment Bill is being introduced to protect and improve the environment for future generations, enshrining in law environmental principles and legally-binding targets. 

I am hopeful that many other countries will follow our ambition on tackling climate change, particularly those with a larger share of global emissions, such as China which accounted for 30 per cent. I know the Prime Minister will be pushing for greater united global action on climate change at the COP26 climate change summit, which we are hosting this year. 

Climate change is an important part of the national curriculum, with the foundation concepts relating to climate and environment taught at primary school. Education continues in secondary school throughout both the science and geography curricula and GCSEs. Should students wish to specialise in this area, a new environmental science A level was introduced in 2017.

In 2019, the Government published the new Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Core Content Framework (CCF) which sets out a core minimum entitlement for all trainees as to what should be covered during their teacher training. I should reassure you that the CCF is underpinned by robust independently reviewed evidence about what makes good teaching.

Teachers’ Standards are also designed so that teacher trainees can demonstrate that they meet all of the standards at the appropriate level, including a secure knowledge of the relevant subject and curriculum areas.     I welcome that the Government is supporting the recruitment and retention of teachers in science and geography to ensure that schools have the expertise to teach topics relating to climate change effectively. 

Separately, I know that there is to be a £7.1 billion increase in funding for schools in England by 2022-23, compared to 2019-20 levels. This three-year investment represents the biggest school funding boost in a decade. Some schools may choose to use this extra funding to train teachers in climate change on eduCCate Global’s training platform. 

I hope this reassures you that climate change has an appropriate place in the curriculum.

Thank you for taking the time to contact me.

Conor Burns MP responds