Labour announces pledge to make climate change lessons 'core part' of school curriculum

Posted On: 
24th May 2019

A Labour government would reform school curriculums in England to introduce mandatory lessons on climate change, the party has announced.

Credit: 
PA

Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner will use a visit to a school in Manchester to unveil plans to make climate change a "core part" of primary school lessons.

Chemistry and geography classes currently include lessons on climate change, however Labour say the reforms are required to reverse a "severe underrepresentation" of knowledge about ecological damage.

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The announcement comes ahead of a further wave of strikes by children across the country organised by the Student Climate Network. 

The group have called for the educational reforms and for the government to "communicate the severity" of climate change to the public.

Earlier this month, MPs approved a Labour motion to declare a environment and climate emergency in a bid to pressure ministers to introduce fresh legislation on it.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said direct action protests by climate activists alongside the student walk-outs had been a "massive and necessary wake-up" call for Parliament.

Speaking ahead of the visit, Ms 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 and 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."

The party says its new proposals will be guided by an expert led panel, who will examine how children can be best prepared to work within new green industries.

Ms Rayner added: "As well as teaching young people about the impact of climate change, their education must prepare them for the jobs of the future.

"As part of Labour's Green Industrial Revolution to crease 400,000 skilled jobs across the country, young people will be taught the skills they need."

The announcement comes just days after Shadow Energy Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey announced bold proposals to nationalise the UK's entire £60bn energy sector as part of a "green industrial revolution".

Kevin Courtney, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said the plans showed Labour were listening 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," he said.

"To address these questions effectively means not only only curriculum change, but also an investment in resources and in teacher development."