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Educating to save the planet

August 23, 2021, 10:52 GMT+1
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  • Martyn Soulsby warms up the next generation to address climate change...
Educating to save the planet

At a time when the European Space Agency (ESA) informed us that the world’s largest iceberg has broken off in Antarctica, we are reminded of the ever-present impact of climate change

Rachel Cookson (geography, Eco School Co-ordinator and Year 3 teacher) with the support of Sally Jenkinson (Year 4 teacher) and myself, at North Lakes School in Cumbria, have worked with staff and pupils to understand climate change while working towards the Eco School award status.

As NASA explains, ‘the current warming trend is of particular significance because most of it is extremely likely (>95 per cent probability) to be the result of human activity since the mid-20th century and proceeding at a rate that is unprecedented over millennia.’

Thankfully the majority of people care about the preservation of their environment. However, for many teachers the thought of tackling this topic in the classroom can be complex and intimidating.


We have all met people who doubt the impact of climate change, so it’s important to ensure that our teachers and pupils understand the issues and correct answers to these misguided comments. For example: “This is the coldest winter we’ve had in years, so much for global warming.” Of course, these doubters are confusing weather fluctuations, which occur every day, with climate, which refers to long term trends; the overall trend is indisputably a warming one.

At North Lakes School we felt that by educating our pupils we hope that they will become a part of a positive movement to ignite change.

As part of our schools’ commitment to climate change education, we started working towards achieving our ‘Green Flag’ award and become an ECO School as part of a post lockdown recovery project.

Because there are so many different interpretations of climate change, we wanted our teachers and pupils to use fully researched, vetted and trusted learning content.

To help achieve this we started using ClickView’s curriculum aligned video-based Climate Change learning content. The clips cover a broad range of sustainability topics clarifying exactly what climate change is, and making the pupils think twice about waste and recycling during isolation. The programme presents expert opinions, statistics and historical references presenting two sides of the story, and ultimately asks us, how worried should we be and what can, or should we do to avert climate change?

But we’re not just educating our pupils into the facts, we’re also teaching them how to get ‘hands on’ and play an active part in address the change. The video Climate Changes series has provided us with plenty of ideas.

The Eco School Project

Our Eco School project is running across the school with each ‘bubble’ within the school exploring different elements of sustainability and climate change.

One Eco Project bubble in the school watched a video on the impact of plastics and then adopted one of the ideas provided, using plastic bottles to make planters on the school fence. Another bubble decided on a number of initiatives suggested such as creating re-usable shopping bags. They brought in cotton bags in bulk and every student created their own design as gifts for their parents and grandparents

We have a group planting wild-flowers, to encourage the bee population, while another bubble teamed up with the National Farmers Union. We want to raise our pupils’ awareness and encourage each individual to apply the learned concepts of sustainability to every aspect of their daily lives.

The pupils are not only engaged in their learning but are also encouraged to think selflessly about their own impact on the environment. Hopefully this next generation will be the catalyst for positive change. The impact we’re seeing to date is certainly proving to be vital and a part of our whole school journey.

Martyn Soulsby, computing lead, Year 5 class teacher and leadership team at North Lakes School in Cumbria