The opening line from a recent government blog on its Education Hub site was certainly encouraging: “Education is one of the key tools we have in the fight against climate change,” it said. We now have a bit more information about two initiatives – a vast, virtual nature park and a climate action award scheme – that the government promises “will enable young people to learn more about the natural world around them and understand how they can play a part in making sure future generations can enjoy a cleaner, safer, greener world.”
The National Education Nature Park is an ambitious programme led by the Natural History Museum and other partners, including the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS). The aim is to create “one, vast, virtual, nature park”. Schools are encouraged to sign up to the scheme that involves using citizen science to map and monitor biodiversity on their grounds and also to take action to enhance it. The RHS is linking this initiative to its campaign to promote school gardening.
The programme also offers support for teachers in early years and in primary and secondary schools. The Natural History Museum says it will create an online hub where “a wealth of information and teaching resources will empower teachers in delivering climate education and help them bring lessons outdoors, supporting the curriculum as well as improving pupils’ mental and physical wellbeing.”
The government claims that the climate action award scheme (previously referred to as a climate leaders’ award) will help children and young people “develop their skills and knowledge in biodiversity and sustainability. It will also celebrate and recognise their work in protecting the local environment.” The ambition is for the scheme to be recognised by employers and universities as a significant achievement.
Both measures were first announced at COP26 at Glasgow in November 2021 and feature in the Department for Education’s 2022 sustainability and climate change strategy.
We know from our work with teachers that there is a strong desire from children and young people to do more to take action for nature, creating green spaces that also provide benefits for health, social cohesion and learning. This new partnership project will help supercharge school gardening that will empower the next generation to make a real difference for nature and for their future.Clare Matterson, Director General of the Royal Horticultural Society
We have written previously that citizen science schemes are a fantastic gateway for children into the world of nature, helping them appreciate and value what the world around us provides. Life-Based Learning prioritises young people learning about the environmental challenges we face and involves encouraging and empowering them to take practical action to promote sustainability and help make a difference.
In blogs like Immersing children in nature from a young age is a massive win-win we refer to the twin benefits – educational and health – of putting nature at the very heart of children’s lives, regardless of whether they live in the middle of the countryside or the middle of a city.
In our blog Agency and empowerment will help counter fatalism and climate anxiety, we wrote about the positive impact on mental wellbeing of getting involved in helping to bring about change for the better. Our blogs regularly highlight activities, initiatives and campaigns that individuals, families, schools and communities can take part in to help improve the environment and build a sustainable future.
The concept of Life-Based Learning developed as a response to the urgent challenges we face. Nature, the environment, the animal kingdom, the physical world — in short, humankind’s relationship with and appreciation of the world around us — would be a central focus of a truly life-based approach to learning.
LBL is about agency and empowerment – giving young people the knowledge, knowhow and skills to lead healthy, sustainable and happy lives, able as individuals and collectively to tackle the many challenges that blight our world.
The image at the head of this article is from the website of the Royal Horticultural Society’s Campaign for School Gardening.