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Girls on school trip in Med Biome

The DfE sustainability and climate change strategy

The Department of Education’s Sustainability and Climate Change strategy is here. Looking to establish the UK as world leaders in sustainability and climate change education by 2030, we think the strategy is a huge (if daunting!) step in the right direction.

To help you get ahead of the game, we’ve taken a deep dive into the strategy, the vision, its aims and what it will actually mean for you and your classroom...

The vision and aims of the strategy

The vision of the strategy is to establish the United Kingdom as  the world-leading education sector in sustainability and climate change by 2030.

The strategy sets out how we will work together in England to:

  • deliver excellence in education and skills for a changing world
  • achieve net zero from education and care buildings
  • build climate resilience by adapting the education estate and systems
  • and create a better environment for future generations through enhancing biodiversity, improving air quality and increasing access to, and connection with, nature in and around education and care settings.

It applies to the Department for Education (DfE), its agencies and public bodies and education and children’s services in England, including: early years, schools (and independent schools where applicable), further education, higher education, children’s social care.

5 action areas are described in the strategy:

  • climate education
  • green skills and careers,
  • the education estate and infrastructure
  • operations and supply chains
  • and international (collaborative working and trade opportunities).

What will it actually mean for you and your school?

Three key initiatives are proposed to drive the strategy on the ground:

Father and child looking at flowers

1. National Education Nature Park

This will involve the whole education estate across England – nurseries, schools, colleges and universities. Settings will identify pieces of land – the bits in between and at the edges of buildings, playgrounds and sports fields – and use them to improve biodiversity. Students and pupils will plant trees, grow plants and gardens, create and monitor wildlife habitats – and will benefit from being active outside, growing skills and learning about nature and eco-systems. Children and young people will participate in digitally mapping and tracking the growth of biodiversity in the education estate.  

A group of school pupils walking through a biome, you can see them through the greenery and they are writing on clipboards

2. Climate Leaders Award

Students will also explore how their schools and settings can operate more sustainably through challenges around reducing food waste, saving energy and using less plastic. By taking part and leading change in their school and wider community, schools, nurseries, colleges and individual students will be able to earn credits towards an award. This Climate Leaders Award will recognise and celebrate education providers, children and young people for their brilliant projects and work. By nurturing a connection to nature, and a sense of agency, these two initiatives will inspire passions and career choices for young people, and lead to innovation and growth within sustainable industries and green careers. 

A group of school pupils standing looking in the direction of the teacher who is pointing

3. Sustainability leadership

The vision is for children and young people to be at the heart of planning and actioning projects for biodiversity and sustainability. They will clearly need to be supported by their teachers and leadership teams.  Education settings will grow a Sustainability Lead who will drive and manage a climate action plan for their setting – including, curricular and extra-curricular activity, procurement, adaptation and decarbonisation plans. The strategy acknowledges the need for training, funding and networks to discuss and share best practice.

What support will there be?

Exactly what support and resources will be in place for schools, we don’t yet know. It is an evolving story. The DFE is currently looking to procure a lead organisation (or group of organisations) to design and deliver the whole project over the next five years, starting in September 2022. 

Find out more 

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