Teaching is about preparing young people for the future and a sustainable and prosperous future needs system thinkers and what the US educator, Zoe Weil, calls “solutionaries”.
I am a teacher of Modern Languages, but I have for a long time now held the view that sustainability should be weaved into every curriculum area. That is what makes me so enthusiastic about the Eco-school programme, which I have coordinated in South Hunsley for most of the past 10 years. I am very proud of our Eco-committee. They earned our second green flag this year. Each award has encouraged them to get more involved in sustainability. The Eco-committee has grown a lot in the past couple of years but it is still relatively small compared to the size of the school and we are constantly looking for new ways to motivate the rest of the student population (and the staff!) to be more environmentally aware.
The problem with trying to raise awareness about the environment is that it can often seem too much like delivering unpalatable truths, and doom and gloom switches off many people. Of course, we need to be realistic; climate change and loss of biodiversity are going to bring an awful lot of problems and we must do whatever we can to mitigate those. To achieve this, we need to have everyone on board yet so many people feel powerless and end up not doing anything when every little gesture and every voice can count. We should never underestimate the ripple effect that some words or actions can have. I have heard many students telling me how they have talked their families into changing some of their habits in order to be more environmentally friendly.
As teachers, we need to do more than inform, we need to inspire and empower. The Youth Climate Summit is a great opportunity for students to feel connected to others and more empowered. It will demonstrate that if we have the facts and the numbers, we can be strong enough to put pressure on the government to make the delayed COP26 one where effective climate action will be decided.
Last year, Jonny Uttley, the CEO of the Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) my school is part of (The Education Alliance - TEAL) created a sustainability working group and it has been great for me to connect with other teachers or administrators from the MAT. Everything in the world is interconnected and therefore making connections with other people is the only way forward when planning. As a teacher, I look forward to working with like-minded colleagues and organisations but what I most look forward to with this summit is showing our students how other teenagers share their concerns, hopes and resolves across the UK.
It is crucial that young people can all access relevant information and feel they can make a positive difference with social or/and environmental action (the two being intrinsically linked). It matters for society in general and it is good for their mental wellbeing and their employability.
The motto of my school, South Hunsley, is Inspire-Aspire. By contributing to this event, we hope to do just that.
The Education Alliance (TEAL) is an established Multi-Academy Trust that is developing collaborative partnerships with academies across the Humber region. They believe that sustained excellence comes through effective ethical leadership and by leading with oral purpose.
If you would like to know more about Transform Our World, or any of our programmes, please get in touch.
Thank you for submitting your enquiry! We are currently receiving a large number of enquiries and are trying our best to get back to people as soon as possible. In the meantime, you might find one of the following links helpful:
Youth Climate Summit
All the best,
The Transform Our World team