Our well-received primary school Guide illustrates how the new foundation and primary curriculums provide numerous opportunities to explore a wide range of the world’s most pressing issues.

Morgan Phillips, Keep Britain Tidy’s education manager, says: “Thank you for the Environmental Curriculum Guide.  This dovetails nicely with how Eco-Schools sees ESD in the National Curriculum, and we have been publicising it at our Roadshow events”.

Sue Shanks, chair of the Kingswood Trust, says, “The Environmental Curriculum is a great summary document to inspire teachers to work outdoors with their classes and groups.  Such well written material that can support teachers to work outside is to be welcomed.”

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Here is the Foreword to the report, written by NAEE President, William Scott:

As I read the official UNESCO account of the opening of the ESD End-of-Decade conference in Aichi-Nagoya, Japan last November, I was struck by how much stress there was on the need for environmental education. Here’s the Crown Prince of Japan:

“On our earth today, along with economic growth and increasing populations, we are also witnessing the advancing change of climate, loss of biodiversity, depletion of natural resources, increases in poverty and other problems.  For our children and theirs, we have three important tasks: protecting the Earth’s environment, which is the wellspring for ensuring lives abundant with blessings, treasuring the Earth’s limited resources, and achieving sustainable development.”

And here is Princess Lalla Hasnaa of Morocco:

“To think and act for the sake of the environment – in the broadest sense of the term – means to be fully aware that the planet is not only a precious legacy, but that it also implies a tremendous responsibility for us in terms of preserving the interests of future generations.”

These issues have been at the heart of environmental education for 60 years.  It is ironic, therefore, to look back to 2005 and the start of the Decade when so many people thought that it would mean the end of environmental education as we knew it.  The UK’s National Association of Environmental Education never accepted this, thinking that as the Earth’s problems became more acute, environmental education would become more necessary, not less.

And so it has proved. As commentators bemoan the lack of a national curriculum emphasis on sustainability and ESD, as this valuable document illustrates, the curriculum actually provides numerous opportunities for schools, teachers and children to explore a wide range of the world’s most pressing issues.  The power of this handbook lies not just in its careful analysis of what the curriculum says, but also in its excellent exemplification of how teachers are seizing opportunities to explore them with their students.  The beautifully illustrated case studies of actual practice are particularly helpful in helping us see what’s possible in today’s schools.

There is something here for everyone; for experienced practitioners there will be insights from other people’s work, and for those just starting out, a wide range of teaching and learning opportunities are carefully set out for scrutiny, evaluation and adaptation.

Environmental education has a key role in helping us address the challenge we all now face:

How can we all live well, without compromising the planet’s continuing ability to enable us all to live well?

We do not yet know enough about how to do this, and so we must learn our way into it.  I welcome this handbook as a contribution to this great task.