On Wednesday 26 February 2020, fifty students, including three of YPTE's Young Trustees will be entering parliament on a mission to engage MPs and Peers in the need to repurpose the education system around the climate emergency and ecological crisis.
The group, who are mostly under 18, ranging from 13-26, created the Teach the Future campaign three months ago because they were unhappy about the lack of climate change focused education they'd received in school, college and university.
Their parliamentary reception is being hosted by Nadia Whittome, the youngest MP in parliament, at 24 years old, with speakers including school pupil Scarlett Westbrook (15), NUS President Zamzam Ibrahim (25), Kevin Courtney, General Secretary of the National Education Union, historian and Vice Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon and Nigel Topping, High Level Climate Action Champion for the COP26 climate talks.
The students have invited all English MPs to attend the reception and hear about their experience of climate education. At the event the students will unveil their draft English Climate Emergency Education Bill, the first ever education legislation to be written by pupils and students.
Should the bill become law, it would require English education providers across primary, secondary and tertiary sectors to teach about the climate emergency and the current ecological crisis. It also would provide new funding for the upskilling of existing teachers and lecturers, and for the development of teaching resources and funding for youth-led climate and environmental social action in every school, college and university.
The Bill would additionally require all new state-funded educational buildings to be net-zero carbon from 2022, and that all existing state-funded educational buildings are retrofitted to net-zero by 2030 as a national infrastructure priority.
The students are also calling on the Secretary of State for Education to commission an independent review of how the education system is preparing young people for the climate emergency and ecological crisis and requesting that he amends the teacher training standards so that all new teachers are trained on the climate emergency.
Joe Brindle, 17, said: “We are all aged 13-26 and in full time education, but have barely been taught anything about the climate emergency and ecological crisis. So much of what we are taught about seems irrelevant given the way the world is going. We just want to be taught the truth and supported to make a difference”.
Mary Skuodas, 15, said: “In the 1950’s the US Government passed their Defence Education Act, which was a massive investment in teaching STEM across all forms of education. They did that so they could win the space race, and they did. We now need a similar massive investment in our education system, so we can combat the climate emergency”.
Zamzam Ibrahim, 25, said: “COP26 is coming and we hope to persuade our Government that education should be a main theme at the talks. We have seen Italy, Russia and New Zealand make announcements about climate education. We hope our Government will want to work with us to develop a Climate Emergency Education Plan in the run up to COP, our bill is the first step to making this happen.”
YPTE's Director, Peter Littlewood said, "It is vital that the government take notice of the urgent need for climate change to be taught about as a priority in the Curriculum. This should begin in primary schools and go through all levels of education. With their draft Climate Emergency Education Bill, these young people are providing a clear way forward. At a time when the UN has said that that young people should be at the heart of tackling the climate crisis, it's essential that they are equipped with the facts they need to come up with solutions."