Last reviewed 12 November 2021

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi has announced a range of new measures at COP26 to ensure climate change is put at the heart of education.

All children are to be taught about the importance of conserving and protecting our planet and young people will be empowered to take action on the environment.

Plans include the delivery of climate change education through a model science curriculum which will be in place by 2023, to teach children about nature and their impact on the world around them. Children and young people will also be encouraged to get involved in the natural world by increasing biodiversity in the grounds of their nursery, school or college by taking small steps like installing bird feeders.

Other measures include:

  • a pilot of energy pods in schools which provide net-zero heating and hot water, replacing gas and coal boilers

  • a new virtual National Education Nature Park, where children can track their progress in increasing biodiversity in their setting against others in the country, increasing their knowledge of different species and develop skills in biodiversity mapping

  • the introduction of a new climate award in recognition of children’s work to improve their environment, similar to the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme.

The announcement comes as part of the DfE’s commitment to keep the education system at the forefront of sustainability and innovation and help meet the Government’s target of reducing emissions by 78% by 2035 and reaching net zero by 2050.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Early Years Alliance, said: 

"We firmly believe that children and young people should be at the heart of tackling climate change and improving the sustainability of our planet, and so we welcome the news that this vital issue is to receive a greater focus within the Department for Education.”

"There is no doubt that the early years has a crucial role to play in ensuring that the next generation has a strong sense of social and environmental responsibility, and we know that many nurseries, pre-schools and childminders are already leading the way when it comes to climate and sustainability education.”

"As such, we hope that the DfE will use and build upon the excellent practice already taking place in our sector, alongside that of schools and further education providers, as it develops this important initiative."

More details can be found in the draft sustainability and climate change strategy for education. The final version of the strategy is due to be published in April 2022.