by Emma Hudson, Content and Services Manager
Young people today have an increased sense of environmental consciousness and are interested in ways to protect and save the planet. In a recent “Attitudes to sustainability” survey by Sustainability and Environmental Education (SEEd), it was found that young people want to learn about more than just climate change – they also want life skills to live sustainably. 1 in 3 teachers are seeing high levels of climate anxiety in their students, but 70% of teachers don’t feel that they have the training to educate on this subject. The Pearson School Report showed that 3 in 5 teachers believe they have a positive role to play in “shaping sustainably-minded citizens” and need quality resources to be able to deliver this effectively around other priorities.
With the Department for Education putting forward plans in their Sustainability and Climate Change Strategy and pledging greater support for teaching climate change at all levels, we take a look at fun and engaging ways to build environment and sustainability into the classroom across Early Years, Primary and Secondary.
- Nature walks and outdoor field trips (science, art, geography; Early Years to Secondary)
- Explore local parks, gardens and nature reserves to learn about biodiversity and ecosystems. In more urban areas, there is the option to do flowerpot tours or collect leaves from around a city.
- Ask students to document their findings of local flora and fauna through sketches and photographs or recording numbers found through tally charts. Can they find and name their favourite tree or wildflower?
- Gardening and composting (science; Early Years to Secondary)
- Create a small garden space within the school grounds to teach students about plant care and sustainability. A window box in a classroom could also be an option.
- Teach composting to turn organic waste from school dinners and the school grounds into rich soil.
- Waste management and recycling programmes (science, geography; Early Years to Secondary)
- Set up recycling bins within the school and educate students about waste management practices.
- Students can organise recycling and waste-awareness campaigns by creating posters and recording data about how many bags of recycling are filled.
- Energy conservation initiatives (science, geography, English; Secondary)
- Teach energy-saving practices by encouraging students to monitor and reduce energy consumption in the classroom or at home. Competitions can be organised to motivate students to save the most energy.
- Ask students to write fact files about the best ways to save energy around the home and at school.
- Water conservation projects (science, geography; Secondary)
- Around science and geography lessons on water scarcity, conduct experiments on water conservation.
- Data analysis skills can be used by students to record how much water they use throughout the day.
- Eco-art and upcycling (art, design and technology; Early Years to Secondary)
- Create eco-art by using recycled materials.
- Organise workshops to up-cycle old items into useful objects to show the value of older objects.
- Environmental debates and discussions (citizenship, English; Secondary)
- Encourage critical thinking skills by asking students to research and put forward discussions on environmental topics they are interested in.
- Organise for speakers to come in from local organisations to give informed talks around climate change and pollution in assemblies.
- Wildlife conservation projects (science, geography; Secondary)
- Collaborate with local wildlife conservation initiatives. Students can create marketing materials to help persuade the general public of the positives of such initiatives.
- Set up bird feeders and insect hotels in the school grounds to help create and maintain habitats for local wildlife.
- Sustainable food (science, food technology, geography; Secondary)
- Teach about locally-sourced produce and show recipes using these. Educate on how to reduce food waste when cooking.
- Encourage the creation of school gardens or allotments.
- Environmental awareness campaigns (citizenship, English, science; Secondary)
- Empower students to raise awareness of environmental issues: either those that affect them locally or worldwide through poster creation and presentations.
- Collaboration with other schools or community projects can help students see the impact they can achieve.
By incorporating practical ideas across the curriculum as a whole, schools can create an engaging and holistic approach to environmental learning.
If you are looking to create educational content that weaves in environmental learning, please get in touch! Westchester Education can offer expert content and development services to create curriculum-aligned resources with our experienced team of subject matter experts.