This was the headline in the recent Sunday Times and the sub-head was: Schools are responding to surveys showing that children want to learn more about climate change — and how to stop it.

This is how it began:

Last year was the warmest since global records began, at 1.18C above the 20th-century average of 13.9C — and perilously close to the threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels that scientists have warned about as the “point of no return”. ­Evidence shows that young people’s desire to learn more about global warming and how to fight it is growing — and that schools remain their most vital and trusted forum for doing so.

InterClimate Network, a British charity, released a study last year which involved questioning nearly 10,000 children­ aged 11 to 18. The survey found 67 per cent said school was where they heard climate change talked about most, compared with other information sources such as TV (52 per cent), social media (50 per cent) and family (25 per cent). Also last year, the British Science Association released its Future Forum report, revealing that 72 per cent of pupils aged 14 to 18 would welcome the opportunity to learn more about climate change in school, and 68 per cent felt that climate change education should be included across all subjects.

Schools across Scotland are responding to these concerns in ever more inventive ways, including launching learning platforms focused on sustain­ability; supporting hands-on extracurricular initiatives such as school gardens; and simply making sure that everyone puts their waste in the right recycling bin.

But above the headline, and in much smaller print, was this: “SCOTLAND INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS REVIEW”. It was easy to miss that the article didn’t relate to all Scottish schools. The article went on to itemise instances of activity. These included:

Primary 6 and 7 pupils at Erskine Stewart’s Melville Schools, a group of co-educational institutions in Edinburgh, are part of a weekly gardening club where they spend time planning their patch and understanding the wider ecosystem required for their plants and vegetables to thrive.

At the High School of Dundee, global citizenship also starts in the primary school years, involving regular discussions about the impact of waste on ecosystems, while an Eco-Schools group has created signage to ensure that the whole school is recycling properly.

At Edinburgh Steiner School, the co-ed establishment places an emphasis on adapting the way ideas about the climate crisis are fed into pupils’ learning, suitable to the evolving needs of a child. For younger age groups, with children aged from six to ten, teachers seek to inspire a fundamental sense of “wonder” and curiosity about the natural world, through outdoor learning and nature stories. In middle school, for pupils up to the age of 14, the educators work with parents to restrict children’s media consumption, and reduce exposure to consumption messages. In upper school, for ages 16 to 18, pupils receive a compulsory course in climatology, an immersive four-week block of daily lessons introducing pupils to the science of meteorology and the causes and effects of climate change. Tasks include the daily collection of data from the school’s weather station.

St Margaret’s School for Girls in Aberdeen­ similarly weaves education about the climate crisis through its curriculum from junior to senior level. In national qualifications it provides ­context for many subjects, such as food security in Higher biology and emerging economic theories in Advanced Higher economics. Classes have appointed sustainability representatives, and the school has made Abby Miller its head of learning for sustainability. “We consider climate change education to be more than learning about the science of climate change: it gives our pupils the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes needed to act as change­makers,” Miller says. “We want to develop pupils who can extrapolate issues and who can respond to social and climate justice by tackling root causes.

In October last year, Fettes College, a co-educational day and boarding school in Edinburgh, launched a sixth form programme called This Will Be Your World, providing students with crucial global perspectives on matters including the ­climate. It was shaped by Martin Lees, an Old Fettesian and a leading climate change expert for the United Nations. Fettes’s efforts to inspire senior students on matters of sustainability are clearly having an impact. Last month Emily Blanchfield, one of its sixth form students, was named the winner of the school essay competition run by the Royal Geographical Society and Financial Times, answering the question: “What risks are associated with climate change and what should we be doing about it?”

At Fairview International School in Bridge of Allan, Year 12 students may visit rewilding development programmes in the area as part of a collaborative sciences project to study the global impact of climate change.

At Albyn School in Aberdeen, upper school ­students have the opportunity to visit ­Iceland to witness first-hand the tangible effects of climate change on the country’s glaciers.

Kilgraston School, an independent co-educational day and boarding establishment near Bridge of Earn in Perthshire, prides itself on eco-friendly practices such as cutting waste, using eco-friendly cleaning products­, and banning plastic water ­bottles. Pupils are also responsible for looking after four apiaries, which produce award-winning honey, and the school is in the process of quite literally growing its offering in ­sustainable education with the planting of wildflower meadows, fruit trees and a garden kitchen. Tanya Davie, head teacher at Kilgraston, says: “By taking these steps, we hope to equip our pupils with the knowledge and skills they need to make a positive impact on the world and create a more sustainable future.”

We look forward to the Sunday Times sampling what goes on at all the maintained schools across Scotland.

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