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£2m climate education expansion for England’s young learners

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Every school and college in England will have free access to expert support to become greener and more climate resilient in a national scheme backed by £2m of government funding.

Run by a consortium of universities including the University of Leeds, the project will mean 30,000 education settings will get help in producing unique climate action plans.

The educational establishments will be linked with “climate ambassadors” — experts from industry and academia who will volunteer to help boost climate education, promote green careers and identify ways carbon emissions can be reduced and biodiversity increased.

The aim is to develop greater resilience to the impact of climate change.

Network of climate ambassadors

Professor Amanda Maycock, Director of the Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science at Leeds and leader of one of nine regional hubs delivering the project, said: “With our wealth of expertise in climate research, the University will create a strong network of climate ambassadors across the Yorkshire and Humber region.

“The scheme offers fantastic opportunities for volunteers to engage with educational settings and bring about real change to children and young people’s learning of climate change.

“Ambassadors will also support educational settings to enact plans to reduce their carbon footprints. I am excited to work with many fantastic partners across the country to deliver this important and influential programme.”

The scheme is an expansion of the climate ambassadors programme created by the University of Reading and STEM Learning almost two years ago. Since it started, the scheme has seen 236 climate ambassadors reach more than 80,000 learners and teachers in 534 schools, colleges and universities.

Supporting teachers and school leaders

Baroness Barran MBE, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education, said: “Climate ambassadors have already helped more than 80,000 learners and educators to include climate education in the curriculum and reduce their environmental impact.

“Their expertise will be crucial in supporting teachers, school and college leaders, and everyone understand and develop climate resilience in the education system.”

Professor Andrew Charlton-Perez, the University of Reading climate scientist who led the climate ambassador scheme’s creation, said: “Nurseries, schools and colleges are the lifeblood of our communities and connect people in ways that few other organisations do.

“They are places where we can join together in the fight against climate change and biodiversity loss. As we grow the scheme, the number of connections we will make between those who have something to give and those who need help will only get bigger and better.”

The new project will be co-led by EAUC, the national sustainability charity for Universities in the UK which is a collaboration involving Leeds, Manchester Metropolitan University, the University of Newcastle, Keele University, University of Nottingham, the University of East Anglia, the Met Office and University College London along with other national partners at STEM Learning, Hopscotch Communications and Change Agents.

The expanded scheme, which is funded by the Department for Education, will launch in March 2024.