Putting climate change on the curriculum
Sally Brooks, Executive Principal of Fulham Cross Academy Trust in London, is an eduCCate Global Climate Change Teacher, helping students and staff to better understand the issues and become part of the solution.
In my years as a religious studies teacher I loved to travel and explore in my time off, and I came to understand that we have to take a stance on climate change if we are to avoid catastrophe. It’s no use worrying about education funding or exam results if we don’t have a sustainable world.
My bolt-from-the-blue moment was a trip last year to a 5,000-pupil primary school in Dubai, where every teacher had completed a climate change curriculum course. One reason I was selected to go was that Fulham Cross Academy Trust, an amalgamation of two local secondary schools, had already tried such eco-aware initiatives as making our school blazers from recycled plastic bottles.
Since becoming principal of the trust, I’d also been thinking about ways to galvanize our two schools, to provide a common purpose. Meeting the teachers and children in Dubai, where learning about climate change had been integrated into core subjects, was inspirational. They shared their ideas and fabulous lesson plans with us, and talking to them changed the way I behave, particularly with regard to food waste and recycling (of my children’s clothes, for example).
I suppose it was ironic that we went to Dubai to talk about climate change (as carbon offset for my flight, I donated €45 for tree planting), but I returned to London energized and determined to enroll more staff into the U.N.-accredited eduCCate Global program, which is putting climate change teachers into schools across the world. A U.K.-based, not-for-profit organization, eduCCate Global provides free e-courses on climate change and green economy, and is a partner of the U.N.’s CC:Learn initiative, which began in 2019. The teachers’ program involves 30 hours of high-level training, with modules on issues such as children and climate change, cities, and gender and environment.
Despite the current global COVID-19 crisis, all our trust’s staff members are doing the course and will complete it by September. As for the pupils, at present we’re approaching climate change through the existing curriculum, but from September will run a course specifically focused on the subject. We are set to be the first Platinum Award eduCCate Global schools in the world.
Fulham Cross also initiates practical projects in our borough, asking Tesco supermarket, for example, to raise funds for two small composters to help recycle food waste from our school kitchens.
Our pupils are mostly more aware of climate issues than their parents and are now enthusiastically pushing them to change their practices.
My new role is time-consuming, but its challenges are worthwhile. Apart from responding to climate change now, many pupils will be working in the green economy in a few years’ time, and we need to equip them for that. — As told to GP Newington
Published: June 2020
Image: Fulham College Academy Trust; DHL