Dr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: 

"This is a step in the right direction but so much more needs to be done if the education sector is to be in a position to claim to be a world leader in climate change by 2030.  Encouraging young people to become agents of change in protecting our planet is incredibly important and the opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of the natural world is very much part of this.  However, we are concerned that the DfE hasn’t taken the opportunity to address wider climate issues for young people at all stages in their education. 

"Rather than a minority of young people opting for this new Natural History GCSE, we need to review the entire curriculum through a climate lens so that opportunities to learn about sustainability and climate change are available to students of all ages, helping them to understand climate breakdown and how society needs to act to address it. 

"Furthermore, whilst certain subjects are enforced by the existence of the EBacc it is difficult to understand where the opportunities will arise even for Key Stage 4 students. You simply have to look at entry numbers in the arts, creative subjects, PE and DT to see the devastating decline of those subjects which sit outside the EBacc. 

"The roll-out of ultra-low carbon buildings needs to happen at pace. What has been announced – 4 new schools and 1 college by 2025 - is far too slow.  The process needs to be speeded up.  We need a target date for every new school to be built under these new specifications and for every old school to be retrofitted to a comparable standard.  Retrofitting the entire schools estate by 2030, alongside investment in alternative travel provision for staff and students to decarbonise the school run would set us on course to be a genuine world leader."

ENDS 

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  • The National Education Union stands up for the future of education. It brings together the voices of more than 450,000 teachers, lecturers, support staff and leaders working in maintained and independent schools and colleges across the UK, to form the largest education union in Europe. 
  • It is an independent, registered trade union and professional association, representing its members in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. 
  • The National Education Union is affiliated to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), European Trade Union Committee for Education (ETUCE) and Education International (EI). It is not affiliated to any political party and seeks to work constructively with all the main political parties.