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5 Minute GAP - Morgan & Jess chat about the new Climate and Sustainability Strategy for Education


In this 5 Minute GAP, Head of insights Morgan Philips and UKSSN Lead Jess Tipton talk about the newly launched Sustainability and climate change strategy for the education and children’s services systems, published by the Department for Education in April 2022. Is the strategy forward thinking enough and will it get to where we need to go?


For more on our response to the strategy, the full response from the UKSSN can be found here.


"We Share Freely". The change we want to see in the world is bigger than we are. So, we're sharing our knowledge, resources and ideas to help more people and organisations take steps forward towards our vision of a green and thriving planet, where everyone can enjoy happy and healthy lives within the Earth's limits.


As part of this, we're launching our new "5 Minute GAP" series, a collection of five minute conversations that will share how we work and what we're working on. We'll talk about what we're trying to achieve and why, how we function as an organisation, and the thinking behind our plans and strategy.


We'll be regularly sharing these conversations, which will feature different members of our team and trustee board, as well as external experts.


We hope you enjoy listening in to our chats, getting to know our team and finding out what makes us who we are. 



Audio only version:


If you prefer to read rather than watch, the transcription is here: 


Jess: Yeah. so I think everybody's really kind of excited and nervous at the same time, that if this doesn't get beyond, I call it the eco echo chamber, you know, we won't be much further forward and we've got to get on board with it and we've got to run with it. And yeah, it's slightly make or break, I feel. 

Morgan: Yeah. I think it's really interesting because I think the, the kind of the sense, the sort of centre point of this is the National Education
Nature Park, I think I've got that the right way around, and the Climate Leaders Award and that's what they're tendering for at the moment. And that quite ambitiously is set to sort of be launched in autumn 2022, which is probably the only thing which looks very, very urgent in this. The other time horizons are quite long, like the introduction of the natural history GCSE is not until "hopefully 2025" and that will only be probably available to a handful of schools, you'd imagine, to begin with. So that's quite urgent. 

And then I was just looking at the visions and aims of it and I think what struck me when I was reading through is that there's kind of four aims, there's excellence in education and skills for a changing world and then there's net zero which is making all the buildings net zero doesn't say buy when, but they kind of have a vision that the UK will be world leading education sector in sustainability by 2030. So maybe it's net zero by 2030, which would be awesome if that actually came about. Although real zero obviously better. And, and then they talk about resilience to climate change which is good to see that kind of adaptation being in there, especially when you think about the education estate and how many buildings aren't sort of fit for purpose, especially for heatwaves which we're going to get more and more of. I'm sure you've been in classrooms where it's this baking and everyone's falling asleep.

Jess: At the best of times. Yeah, I did. It does mention, it's just slipped in there, about ready for potentially four degrees. Did you see that in the document?  It's just sort of like, oh, gosh. OK, yeah. It's a real recognition of how things could be. 

Morgan: Yeah. That that language slips through occasionally. I think it's driven kind of by Defra environments agencies sort of saying, well, we need to prepare
for four degrees of warming, which is extraordinary.

Jess: Yeah, yeah. It's really interesting because I, I used to work at DEFRA and left in I think it was 2016 and, and still then it was quite a struggle to get other government departments to take this seriously. And often Defra was a bit on the periphery or hadn't been invited and you know, going on and on about this,
trying to get cabinet office on board. So so from that point of view, the fact that this is coming from DFE, there's a huge team working on it and that sort
of language is in there. I feel at the same time half glass full and half glass empty, like with all this all this stuff, you know, COP26 as well. And I keep sort of varying between the two. 

But yeah, in an ideal world, what would you, what would you have wanted to see in this?

Morgan: Well, yeah, I mean this is the kind of point I was making there is that there's, there's these four aims and three of them. I mean that's the fourth one is a better environment for future generations, which is enhancing biodiversity and speaks to the kind of nature part of it. So three of the four aims are really
just infrastructural and operational aims. 

And then there's the one education aim. And then when you get into... they call it an action area. So when you get into that action area around climate education a) it's quite narrow because it's talks about climate education and we'd like that to be broader and I think it's quite telling within the subheading it talks about education about the environmental issues, and then it talks about support for teachers for it and bringing through more resources, which is obviously something that GAP tries to do. And then it talks about education inbut it doesn't read of education for and what that might look like. And this is kind of's sort of quite indicative, I think, of the mindset going on here, that it's sort of if we provide the facts and the information and the knowledge then young people.

I think actually somewhere it says that young people will be more likely to take action. I think they say "will empower young people to be global citizens if they better understand climate change and have a greater connection to nature". And it's kind of a statement of fact they're making there. But we know that it's it's far more than that. Like those two things are drivers and motivators, but there's all sorts of other motivators connected to sort of your values and the skills that you have and your and your broader feeling about the, you know, issues like climate justice and so on can all drive into this, but that doesn't seem to be there. So there's quite a few statements in it which aren't massively backed up. And I'd love to see more of that stuff backed up. But I think that's that will come through, I think through the tenders that people are say this is going to be you know, this is what really empowers young people and this is what we need to include in something like the Climate Leaders Award in the National Nature Park.