Our ongoing Climate Voices programme is engaging young people from secondary schools across the country. Feedback from conferences and workshops shows students are being inspired to take action and have a say.


We gathered feedback from students and their teachers at all of our Climate Conferences in 2019. See here for a summary and here for a more detailed write-up which includes an interesting comparison of our pre-event survey completed by students about to take part in a Climate Action workshop in school.  All analysis is now being used as part of our programme planning and area by area breakdowns, available on request, are used in our discussions with schools, Local Authority teams and other partners.

Headlines from 2019 Climate Conferences series:

  • 98% of students at the conferences said they were “somewhat or very concerned about Climate Change” 
  • 90% of students said their views were listened to.

Of the 231 students who completed a pre-conference survey across 5 Climate Conferences, just 2 young people said they were not at all concerned and 2 that they were not really concerned. The post-conference survey was completed by 171 students.

Taking Climate Action

In preparation for the conference, students had been tasked to outline ideas for Climate Action for their schools referencing 4 key areas to make a difference: Energy; Food; Travel, What we buy & use.   A great range of ideas emerged, many of which are low cost but would have a big impact (download a copy). 

Of significance in terms of students’ sense of their role and the part they can play in climate action was that by the end of the conference:

  • 83% agreed, “I know how I could take action and influence others” (rising from a pre-conference response of 63%)
  • 83% said taking as a result of taking part, they now want to “Influence friends and family”
  • 38% said they want to “Join an eco-group” after the conference*.

* 28% students told us at the start that they are already part of an eco-group.  There was a strong indication in the responses of 38 teacher (representing 32 separate schools) that Climate Action is driven by their eco-groups:

  • 73% teachers said that ‘Climate Action’ fits with their schools’ eco-group
  • 35% said it was a teacher-led initiative only as was the next highest response.

Having a say

By the end of the conferences, and as a direct result of involvement of elected representatives, council leaders and staff, there was a:

  • 220% increase in students strongly agreeing with the statement “Local decision-makers take notice of what we as young people think”
  • 50% increase in students agreeing and strongly agreeing with “National politicians and decision-makers want to hear our views” post-conference survey

When asked, ‘What do you believe can make the biggest difference to tackling climate change in our area?’:

  • 55% placed “Involve more people in climate action” either first or second
  • 44% had “Give young people a bigger voice in local decisions” either first or second.

Impact: Climate Voices 2015-18

The Climate Voices programme 2015-18 successfully engaged 1,000 students from 40 secondary schools in Bristol, London, Gloucestershire, Reading, Solihull and South Gloucestershire.  In a survey after the 2018 Conference students said they benefited greatly by learning about climate change and developing skills in research & analysis, team-working, debating and presenting information, and that they came away with ideas and inspiration to act.  100% of teachers said they wanted their students to take part again:

The Conferences cover climate change and global development to a greater depth and in a more engaging way than would be possible in school over several lessons.’

Students who attended the 2017 Conferences presented their subsequent actions at an ICN ‘National Summit’ in June 2018:

  • Sixth formers from Bristol’s Badminton School had run a truly school-wide marketing strategy to reduce plastic waste, and the school had subsequently established an Environment and Resources Officer and an Environmental Committee for even more action. 
  • Year 7&8 students at Cheltenham’s Chosen Hill school had liaised specifically with the school’s waste management and catering companies to identify waste reduction actions. Their textiles students transformed ‘single use’ plastics into a unique dress, which motivated others to action as well.
  • The eco-group at Gumley House School in London sourced reusable water bottles for the school and introduced higher charges for single-use items.  Their logo competition had proved a great way to engage other pupils.