Students and teachers are motivated to lead climate action but may be unsure of where to start. Here are ideas and resources under major themes, and drawn from a range of organisations, to inspire meaningful actions.
Key aspects of our lives are critical in reducing our Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions and helping to restore biodiversity: Energy; Food and food waste; Nature; Travel and transport; and What we use, recycle and re-use.
Delivering impactful climate action within every school community means boosting understanding and joint action in these critical areas, for example by reducing food waste at lunchtime and improving energy efficiency.
Outlined below are a series of ideas and resources for secondary schools linked under each theme. These are intended to help you think about how everyone can take up the shared responsibility to act and support positive change. The lists are not exhaustive and please do let us know of other organisations and resources to include.
Click on this image for some great ideas and priorities from a number of schools:
“Our greatest power lies in our roles as citizens, not consumers, when we can band together to collectively change how our world works.”Rebecca Solnit, 12 January 2023
Click through to useful resources and directories
5 steps for empowering climate action: An inspiring poster outlining what you can do to help support climate action, built on what 11- to 18-year-olds said would motivate them.
Carbon Copy: Check out their ‘23 Community Actions in 2023’ guide for real examples of big-thinking local actions in your area and nationally.
Climate Ambassadors: Climate Ambassadors is an initiative to mobilise experts within the climate sector and support them with engaging with young people and educators.
Declare a Climate Emergency: Useful guide by Leicester’s Sustainable Schools Team.
Eco-Action Games: Innovative, interactive, eco-educational games, resources and employee training so people become more eco-friendly.
Eco-Schools England: Pathway for secondary schools has guidance and resources for a school Eco-Committee to take lots of ownership.
Friends of the Earth: A useful overview for climate action planning, with 50 top tips for schools and colleges.
Global Dimension: Wide-range of searchable teaching resources easily accessed on this leading global learning platform.
Let’s Go Zero 2030: National campaign to support schools become carbon zero by 2030.
Ministry of Eco Education: A collaboration of teachers working together to place sustainability at the heart of education.
Our SMART Climate Action: Use our resource to help you decide a climate action that you want to focus on in your school community.
Oxfam Education: Youth action guides and teaching resources such as a Climate challenge to investigate the human impact of the climate crisis.
ThoughtBox Education: Training programmes, classroom resources and practitioner networks support schools in nurturing a culture of care right across the learning community.
Transform Our World: An online, centralised, quality-rated resource hub to help teachers to bring environmental action into the classroom.
UK Schools Sustainability Network: Regional and national networks for students to connect, share ideas and resources and collaborate on sustainability initiatives.
UNESCO: ‘Getting Climate Ready’ guide drawing on examples from 55 schools in 12 countries and empowerment to provide a whole-school approach to climate action.
World Wildlife Fund: Great range of curriculum linked climate change KS2 and 3 resources and lesson plans available.
Young Climate Warriors: Weekly challenges and Climate Change Club in a Box to empower children to help combat climate change using power of collective action.
Despite all that we know about climate change, our total global Greenhouse Gas emissions have never been higher. To cut our energy (and save money!) and make our schools as low-carbon as possible we need to:
- Use less energy for heat, lights, computers and electrical appliances
- Think about renewable energy and better insulation
- Encourage everyone to get involved.
Energy Envoys: National Energy Foundation opportunity for young people completing their Duke of Edinburgh’s Awards volunteering.
Energy Sparks: Activities and programmes for pupils easily grouped and linked to different subjects and key stages.
Energy in Schools: Nationwide roll-out using micro:bit technology to help schools reduce energy usage and bills combined with an educational platform.
Solar for Schools: Making the transition to clean energy a reality for schools and providing education around it.
Food & food waste
Food production already has a big impact on the world’s environment including via methane gases and clearing of forests. Around a third of all the food we buy goes straight to the bin, and it has been calculated that cutting avoidable waste would cut 22p off an average school meal.
We need to:
- Use less meat, milk, cheese and butter
- Eat more locally sourced seasonal food – Throw less of it away!
- Join with others influencing supermarkets and suppliers.
Countryside Classroom: Reservoir of classroom resources, packs and guidance including on food and food waste from a wide range of food, farming and environment education partners.
WRAP – Love Food Hate Waste: Campaign to raise awareness of the need to reduce food waste and help us take action.
WWF:Six tips to help you eat more sustainably.
Protecting biodiversity is in the spotlight globally as nations try to agree a UN framework to combat the crisis that threatens over one million plant and animal species with extinction [read more here]. One aim of the new UK Sustainability and climate change strategy is to increase connection with nature within and around our schools, and the many benefits to our own well-being are clear.
We need to:
- Consider nature as an every-day ‘essential’
- Join in with fun ways to help boost biodiversity
- Write to decision-makers when more needs to be done.
National Education Nature Park: Free programme providing educators with the resources, support and guidance needed to put nature at the heart of education.
Nature Friendly Schools:Resources provided in this demonstration project of the Children in Nature programme supporting access to nature.
Size of Wales: Focus on deforestation with accessible resources including a forest-friendly meal quiz and forest commodity cards.
Woodland Trust:Gives away hundreds of thousands of trees to schools – apply online for a tree pack and see their great Tree Tools website.
Travel & transport
In the UK, more than 60% of journeys are by car which has a big impact on emissions and our health! Around 35% students now walk to school where a generation ago, it was closer to 70% says Living Streets. More than 75% of the goods we use travel across the country in vans and trucks.
We need to:
- Walk or cycle short distances
- Use public transport and car-share
- Ask for better facilities where we need them.
Bikeability: Government backed initiative for gaining practical cycle skills for today’s roads with different levels / recognition of achievement.
Living Streets: Local and international initiatives to encourage walking including walk to school month, and to create a better walking environment.
Modeshift: National schools awards scheme encouraging schools across the country to join a major effort to increase sustainable and active travel.
What we buy,
use and re-use
We live in a wasteful society where we: make; use (often just once); then throw away products. If a year’s worth of the UK’s un-recycled plastic bottles were placed end to end, they’d reach around the world 31 times. Globally, only 20% clothes are recycled.
We need to think about what we use on a daily basis, and what we do with it all:
- Live with less plastic and generate less waste
- Recycle and reuse as much as possible
- Use our ‘buying power’ to demand sustainability in everything.
Another Way: Inspiration for steps we can all take to live sustainably.
Ellen Macarthur Foundation – circular economy: Engages students in how to move beyond the linear ‘take-make-dispose’ model.
Practical Action: Range of resources including for STEM such as Plastic Challenge and a Water Harvester Design Challenge.
Terracycle: Offering recycling schemes for lots of ‘hard to recycle’ items.
WRAP Recycle Campaigns: Various campaigns from clothes to plastics to run in school with very useful resources and data provided to use in support.
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