The missing 'curriculum' link in Green Skills

Updated: Aug 5

Now is the time to deliver a comprehensive 'Green Skills' curriculum to all our learners, staff, workforce and society.

Our pledges and commitments have been made to tackle the climate crisis and the race to NetZero has begun. COP27 is around the corner and is scheduled for Nov 2022 in Egypt.

Undoubtedly the main agent for delivering the required change is education. However, there seems to be no real prospect of comprehensive plan, with a strong enough curriculum element and the resources needed to deliver it in place anytime soon.

Many schools and Colleges have been left to try and work out for themselves what should be delivered to their learners and how, with the start of a new academic year just around the corner, it feels like an important opportunity has been missed.

Earlier in the year the Department for Education (DfE) published Sustainability and climate change: a strategy for the education and children’s services systems

The curriculum elements is to be achived through the following strategic aim:

"Excellence in education and skills for a changing world: preparing all young people for a world impacted by climate change through learning and practical experience"

This is set to be delivered in 2022 through the following:

- Climate change and sustainability in science teachers’ continuing professional development (CPD)

- Include content on sustainability when DfE is tendering for new CPD

- Deliver pilots through the National Education Nature Park, which will test an approach for sharing university climate expertise and learning opportunities with colleges, schools and nurseries

- Share best practice, demonstrating how sustainability and climate change has been incorporated into teaching

- Consider where further steps could be taken to support the teaching of sustainability in relevant subjects

There are some other elements in the plan, focussing on establishing sustainability leads in organisations and scaling up the carbon literacy training through the Climate Leaders Award and the future development of a GCSE in Natural History.

A second round of Strategic Development Fund (SDF) projects has been launched to help support FE Colleges to fund new resources to advance green skills, although the main emphasis is more on digital skills this time around.

Apprenticeships are getting a net-zero facelift through the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education’s (IfATE) Green Apprenticeships Advisory Panel.

A new wave of Institutes of Technologies (IoTs) are in the process of being launched, that will result in an influx of additional funding to help create World class STEM facilities and well equipped classrooms and laboratories.

A third wave of Skills Bootcamps are soon to be launched, so that adults are able to upskill and retrain in key green sectors.

Awarding Bodies are attempting to fill the void by creating new qualifications at pace. Many of which do not include up-to-date learning around COP26 and the new technological approaches to tackling climate change. Most of them are just far too general and lack something. There are virtually no teaching and learning resources available for both teachers and learners to support effective delivery and assessment.

Clearly, the political will and funding is available, but we need to refocus the plan, as it is not quite right yet. Let us tackle the missing link and create a teaching & learning rich green skills curriculum, that supports everyone.

There is a clear need to "level up" our collective understanding of what is Sustainability.

We need to all be able to communicate in the same language and have a consensus of what it is and what we need to do to make it happen. This needs to be the first step in our collective sustainability journey.

We need to be able to demonstrate and showcase through new learning programmes, what are sustainable behaviours and how we can use them to make a new clean technologies work.

After all, these are skills and all new skills need to be taught and learnt.

We need to build new learning around how to carryout practical activities which creates change. Carrying out a simple carbon footprining analysis at work or at home can easily be used to produce a simple Carbon Reduction Plan, which will collectively have a huge positive impact on the environment.

I hope that the Department for Education will take the opportunity to review their plan. After all a plan is defined as "a detailed proposal for doing or achieving something". We rarely get things right the first time around. Education is based on us learning by trial and error and learning from our mistakes, until we get it right.

Investment is needed in our educational establishments, so that we have fit for purpose teaching and learning facilities and the most up-to-date equipment to deliver it.

However, we urgently need a teaching and learning rich fit for purpose green skills curriculum that we can deliver now.

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