Climate change and its effects are of great concern to young people today. Teachers have a role in raising awareness of the climate crisis and helping pupils acquire the skills and knowledge for a sustainable future. Tackling the climate crisis through education empowers young people to seek the vital changes needed.
Diverse political voices have suggested that "Climate Change is above politics" - something that cannot be ignored and demands an urgent response. From a teaching and learning point of view climate change should be foundational. The science is clear and agreed. Where there is an argument is over how to react and what to do.
The Impartiality Guidance issued by the DfE makes clear that climate change denial has no validity and teaching about climate change, the scientific facts and evidence behind it, would not constitute teaching about a political issue.
Schools do not need to present misinformation, such as claims that climate change is not occurring, to provide balance. Teaching potential solutions for tackling climate change may constitute a political issue. DfE advise this part of the topic should be taught in a balanced manner, with teachers not promoting any of the partisan political views covered to pupils.
Note that the guidance is not suggesting that “partisan political views” should not be expressed in the classroom. Rather, it is recognising that such views exist and that they will be reflected in the curriculum and in the classroom. The teacher’s role is to teach about “solutions” without promoting any particular viewpoint that the curriculum has covered. This should not preclude teachers expressing their own views, nor from criticising other perspectives.
In the introduction to the DfE Net Zero Strategy, Nadhim Zahawi, then Education Secretary, acknowledged that students, must in his words, see themselves as “agents of change”, with “hope” in their own capacities. Teachers will take confidence from this, encouraging learners to voice their own perspectives on what has to change if the climate crisis is to be addressed.