View from the Linden Barn 4

July 22,2013

UK Government Backs Away from Taking Climate Change out of the Curriculum

Primula Vialii

In our first View from the Linden Barn, we described the intention of the UK Department of Education to remove climate change from the geography curriculum as an ‘act of gross irresponsibility’.

We are delighted that, under pressure from environmental and other campaigning groups as well as concerned teachers, the Education Secretary, Michael Gove, has backtracked.  Climate change is to remain in the geography curriculum and the new curriculum, to be published this summer, will make clear reference to the role of human activity in fomenting climate change and to human dependency on maintaining well-functioning natural systems (1).

Our earlier fundamental criticisms nonetheless remain.  The implications of climate change for human and planetary wellbeing are such that its treatment in school should not be more or less corralled within one subject but should be crosscutting, thus enabling insights from all subjects to be brought to bear and social, economic and values dimensions fully explored alongside the scientific.  

The global competitiveness emphasis within government as they hail the new curriculum as ‘necessary because British pupils are “in a global race” with other children across the world’ (2) redoubles our concern that the treatment of climate change in the curriculum will skate along the surface. It will duck consideration of headlong economic growth as a fundamental driver of climate change.  Students will learn something about climate change but not see that their ‘rigorous, engaging and tough’ curriculum ‘critical to future economic success’ (3) is intended to feed into a global growth economy that, as it self harms, brooks no alternative.

- By David Selby

(3)    Ibid.

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