Climate education saved in Britain?


Michael Gove, the Secretary of State for Education in the United Kingdom, "has abandoned plans to drop climate change from the geography national curriculum," reported the Guardian (July 5, 2013). As NCSE previously explained, whereas the existing national curriculum discusses sustainable development and "its impact on environmental interaction and climate change" in the section on geography, a new draft of the curriculum was silent about climate change in the section on geography.

The silence about climate change prompted speculations about political interference in the revision process and worries about the effect on students: Doug Bourn, director of the development education research center at the Institute of Education, told the Guardian (March 18, 2013) that with the omission of any mention of climate change in the curriculum, "The danger is that it will now not be taught at all or that the vacuum could be filled by people who are not positive about it, like deniers."

Now, however, the Guardian reports, "Those familiar with the final version say it will be clear about the role of humans in climate change. It will refer to how human and physical processes interact to influence and change landscapes, environments and the climate, and how humans depend on the effective functioning of natural systems." The newspaper credited Ed Davey, the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, for his efforts to convince Gove to restore climate change.

Writing on the Guardian's Environment blog (July 8, 2013), Leo Hickman welcomed the change, but warned that it "might be a little premature ... to claim total victory," observing, "the wording has only been amended for key stage 3 (ages 11-14), not key stages 1-2. This still means that a child can pass through primary school without the national curriculum demanding that they be taught about climate change." Additionally, he noted that while climate change was restored, sustainable development was not.