Turning learning inside out  The Department for Education’s COVID-19 guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings recommends considering which lessons or classroom activities could take place outdoors.  As a result, the organisations involved in helping schools take teaching and learning beyond the classroom have united to help schools by enabling high-quality learning experiences in school grounds, local spaces and home environments.  Details here. ∫∫∫


Anglia Ruskin University is running free webinars for teachers, teaching assistants and educators.  The overall theme is Changing the World One Lesson at a Time: Environmental and Sustainability Education, and each has been developed with a specific focus and will comprise three short presentations followed by the opportunity for Q&A and discussion as follows:

Webinar 2: Environmental and Sustainability Education across the curriculum

Thursday 4th June, 1600 – 1700.  The speakers are

  • Allan Drummond, Anglia Ruskin University – Telling real sustainability stories through picture books
  • Nicola Walshe, Anglia Ruskin University – Arts-based pedagogical approaches to ESE
  • Ruth Sapsed, Cambridge Curiosity and Imagination – Less is more and thinking about slowiness

You can book to take part in these seminars here.  The next webinar is on June 18th.  The focus will be How can we ‘Build back better’, and what does this mean for education?  ∫∫∫


In its Schools Brief, the Economist  has published the fifth of 6 weekly articles on the climate.  These will be valuable reminders to those of us who’ve been following these events for 40 years or more, and a sobering story for those relative new to our failed attempts to curb CO2 emissions.  We think that these articles will be useful for older students studying environmental issues in schools, and for their teachers too.  This weeks Brief  looks at how the world’s energy systems will have to be transformed.  This is how it begins:

“For more than 100,000 years humans derived all their energy from what they hunted, gathered and grazed on or grew for themselves. Their own energy for moving things came from what they ate. Energy for light and heat came from burning the rest. In recent millennia they added energy from the flow of water and, later, air to the repertoire. But, important as water- and windmills were, they did little to change the overall energy picture. Global energy use broadly tracked the size of a population fed by farms and warmed by wood.  The combination of fossil fuels and machinery changed everything. According to calculations by Vaclav Smil, a scholar of energy systems at the University of Manitoba, between 1850 and 2000 the human world’s energy use increased by a factor of 15 or so.  The expansion was not homogeneous; over its course the mixture of fossil fuels used changed quite dramatically. These are the monumental shifts historians call “energy transitions”. They require huge amounts of infrastructure; they change the way the economy works; and they take place quite slowly.  …”

And ends:

“However much they do, though, and however well they do it, they will not stop the climate change at today’s temperature of 1°C above the pre-industrial. Indeed, they will need to expand their efforts greatly to meet the 2°C target; on today’s policies, the rise by the end of the century looks closer to 3°C. This means that as well as trying to limit climate change, the world also needs to learn how to adapt to it.”  ∫∫∫


CLEAN – the Climate Awareness and Energy Awareness Network – has reviewed a range of lessons to ensure accurate science and pedagogical effectiveness.  It says: “Teach kids about Climate Change through age-appropriate videos, interactive visualizations, and hands-on science! Discussion Prompts are provided to check for understanding and promote active learning and reflection. To take it a step further, check out some of our favorite Citizen Science Programmes“.  ∫∫∫


WWT has launched a new home learning hub to help parents teach their primary school aged children key parts of the science curriculum.  New resources, covering different science topics, will be released on a Monday morning each week until the end of this term.  Families will have access to lesson plans, written specifically with this audience in mind, divided up into bite-sized chunks, including an outdoors element for those with access to outdoor space. These are supported by instructional videos, fun ‘make it’ activities and a quiz to show how much they’ve learnt each week.  The resources can be accessed here.


We know that regular readers like to keep up with the many international days throughout the year, and so here’s a handy list.  No week goes by without the UN having a few such days.  For example, in the last two last weeks there have been:

A significant day in the coming week is Friday June 5th as this is World Environment Day (A/RES/2994 (XXVII)  The UN notes:

“World Environment Day is the most renowned day for environmental action.  Since 1974, it has been celebrated every year on 5 June: engaging governments, businesses, celebrities and citizens to focus their efforts on a pressing environmental issue.  In 2020, the theme is biodiversity – a concern that is both urgent and existential. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States, and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic – demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life, in which they exist.”  ∫∫∫


 The UN has helpfully provided a biodiversity quiz to help us prepare for World Environment Day on Friday.  There’s useful feedback on your responses as you go through the test (sorry, quiz).  You’ll have to keep your own score as you go along, as the site doesn’t tell you how badly you did.  We reckon that 50% is a good score in a quiz where the questions are random and the pool of knowledge so huge.  Here’s a sample:

 ? Of the plants grown for human consumption, approximately what percentage are pollinated by animals?    85  75  65  55   ∫∫∫


The Spectator has published a podcast on carbon offsetting, asking whether it’s a medieval indulgence or the way to Net Zero?  Kate Andrews hosts the podcast and speaks to Tony Juniper, Head of Natural England; Robert Courts, Conservative MP for Witney; and Harvonne Yap, Global Origination Lead for Environmental Products at Shell which is sponsoring this podcast.  You can listen here.  ∫∫∫


Bike Week (6-14 June) is delivered by Cycling UK #BikeWeekUK.  The theme for Bike Week this year is around health and wellbeing and its benefits to individuals, society and the planet.  There’s a social media #7daysofcycling challenge during Bike Week which aims to get more people cycling every day.  People are encouraged to go for at least one ride during the week and to share images online.  Each day has a theme.  For example, on Friday 12 June it’s Go green.  There’s also a programme of events to take part in.  Find out more by clicking here.  ∫∫∫


A new book about SDG 4: Grading Goal Four – Tensions, Threats, and Opportunities in the Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education has been published and you find it here.  The blurb says:

“For the third time in three decades world leaders reaffirmed their promise of “Education For All” when adopting Sustainable Development Goal 4 in 2015. It is the most far-reaching commitment to quality and equity in education so far, yet, there is no consensus on what the agenda means in practice.  With a decade left until the 2030 deadline, Grading Goal Four calls upon the education community to engage more thoughtfully and critically with SDG 4 and related efforts. As an ever-growing number of actors and initiatives claim to contribute to its achievement, it is becoming clear that the ambitious but broad priorities within the goal are vulnerable to cherry-picking and misrepresentation, placing it at the heart of tensions between instrumentalist and rights-based approaches to education. This text, a critical analysis of SDG 4, provides a framework for examining trends and developments in education globally.  As the first volume that examines early implementation efforts under SDG 4, Grading Goal Four formulates a critique along with strategies for moving forward. By scrutinising the challenges, tensions and power dynamics shaping SDG 4, it advances rights-based perspectives and strategies for effective implementation and builds capacity for strengthened monitoring and analysis of the goal.”   ∫∫∫


Meanwhile, in a village high above the Arctic Circle it was warmer than in Spain for a short period recently as Siberia recorded worrying temperatures.  Khatanga, 2,100 miles NE of Moscow, was 25 degrees C on May 22, beating the previous record by 13 degrees.  Typical average temperatures for May are around negative 6 degrees C.  More evidence that the Arctic is heating up too quickly because of climate change.  The ticks, we hear, had a fine old time.  ∫∫∫

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