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Schools and Sustainability: A Sustainability Lead for 2025

” The challenge of climate change is formidable. For children and young people to meet it with determination, and not with despair, we must offer them not just truth, but also hope. Learners need to know the truth about climate change – through knowledge-rich education. They must also be given the hope that they can be agents of change, through hands-on activity and, as they progress, through guidance and programmes allowing them to pursue a green career pathway in their chosen field.” Secretary of State for Education, the Rt Hon Nadhim Zahawi MP  

 If you haven’t yet seen the Sustainability and Climate Change strategy for education and children’s services – it’s worth a look. It outlines five key action areas and the associated aims and initiatives designed to meet the DfE’s sustainability and climate education targets. You can find it here.  

A key action is this: “By 2025, all education settings will have nominated a sustainability lead and put in place a climate action plan.”  

This action is crucial as it will underpin many schools preparedness and confidence. It will mean that climate action and the actions in the strategy are at the forefront of school planning.  

What is a sustainability lead?  

The DfE recommends that each individual setting or trust decide the structure of their sustainability leadership team – but where possible the climate action plan and strategy is driven by a diverse team across the school. To be made up of both education and operational staff and including senior leaders who have both authority and influence. 

And the climate action plan?  

A climate action plan is a route toward ensuring your setting or trust is acting toward, and educating about, sustainability.  

A climate action plan should typically cover the following 4 areas, to align with DfE’s sustainability and climate change strategy: 

  • decarbonisation, for example calculating and taking actions to reduce carbon emissions, such as becoming more energy efficient 
  • adaptation and resilience, such as taking actions to reduce the risk of flooding and overheating 
  • climate education and green careers, such as ensuring the education you provide gives knowledge-rich and comprehensive teaching about climate change, and that your teaching staff and lecturers feel supported to offer this 

We’ve already made a start – what should we do? 

As with all initiatives of this kind the DfE are keen to stress that they do not want schools to duplicate work. Instead they want to offer guidelines and resources to ensure that your school is making the most of the plan. 

What help is available? 

Zero Carbon Cumbria, along with Cumbria Action for Sustainability – is offering a webinar exploring these changes and how school and other settings can meet them.

These short webinars will discuss the sustainability lead role, explore how it will work in the context of Cumbrian schools, and look at practical ways that sustainability can be developed within a whole-school approach. It will also allow you to meet other schools who are developing these actions, and find out about further, tailored, support to develop your settings’ action plan.  

If you interested in finding about more, please email our Events and Training Coordinator: jane.simpson@cafs.org.uk

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