Supporting action on climate change in your school

Action against climate change is a movement currently gripping the nation and dividing opinion. As the definitive voice for school leaders, it’s our position that the safety and wellbeing of students cannot be fully provided for off-premises at protests and strikes during school hours – but we fully believe that there are still various ways that schools can support students in voicing their opinions and becoming leaders of change.

If you’re an NAHT member, you may already have seen our news article on Global Action Plan’s launch of Transform Our World, a resource centre designed to help educators bring environmental action into schools and classrooms. To complement these resources, we’ve rounded up some ideas to support your pupils and encourage positive action on climate change.

Form an Eco-Council

School council initiatives have long provided opportunities for student-led projects and innovation surrounding issues such as bullying, litter picking and energy saving. But why not take this idea further by establishing a separate board for students and staff to focus on positive climate action in your school? Let your Eco Council take charge of the topics discussed and help them realise ideas for school-wide or community projects and initiatives.

Invite inspirational speakers to your school

So much of current messaging around climate change, whilst designed to invoke reaction, can feel quite bleak, so when you want to help inspire your students, help them think further ahead to how they can grow to make a difference. Invite individuals from your community to speak about topics such as career opportunities in areas such as environmental science or sustainable architecture and design, or individuals from charitable groups that campaign for change and lobby governing bodies.

Create an awareness week or fortnight in your school

Creating an in-school awareness week or fortnight might take some forward planning but could be an effective way of making a difference as a collective and helping students measure their positive impact through actionable activities.

Using educational toolkits such as Transform Our World, ask your colleagues to plan how they can incorporate these resources into lessons throughout the week so that students can understand how bigger issues don’t just work in isolation. Could food technology involve designing a plant-based menu, your art students create sculptures out of recycled materials or geography lessons involve making a climate change pledge?

Here are some ideas you could combine:

  • In-school educational group visits (below)
  • Exhibit topical student artwork in public areas
  • Hold a drama or music performance assembly
  • Fundraising activities such as sponsored walks to school
  • Plan a beach or park clean
  • Hold swapping events for unwanted clothes, books etc.
  • Implement a meat-free week to raise awareness of plant-based alternatives

You could consider creating a checklist or journal for students to use either individually or as a class for the duration of your environmental awareness week that measures the impact of activities such as walking to school instead of being driven, swapping out meat for several days a week, fundraising achieved, or the number of items saved from landfill.

Cross-curricular activities and workshops

Have a look at some of the educational groups listed by organisations such as STEM Learning for in-school activity days and workshops that will get students and staff involved. Educational day workshops are designed to fit in line with your school’s curriculum, whilst raising awareness of key environmental issues and helping students of varying ages to understand why it matters. They’re usually fun and interesting ways of tackling topics from different perspectives, challenging a variety of different skills and encouraging cross-curricular learning.

How are you promoting positive action on climate change in your school? Share your ideas and tips with us over on Facebook or Twitter, or write to us in the Have Your Say comments.