NAEE was pleased to receive an honourable mention for its two national curriculum guides at the launch of the consultation for the OCR Natural History GCSE. The guides’ careful analysis of the way that the national curriculum provides opportunities for the study of environmental and ecological issues was described as “brilliant work”. Our original two guides are:
The Environmental Curriculum across early years foundation stage and primary illustrates how early experience of schools provides opportunities for children to explore the natural world around them.
The Environmental Curriculum across key stages 3 and 4 illustrates how the secondary curriculum provides opportunities for schools, teachers and children to explore the natural world and develop understandings of key environmental issues.
If you’ve not come across these, you can read / download them here.
The two guides point to the irony of the national curriculum’s coverage of climate matters. Yes, climate and climate change are covered across a range of subjects, but this is presented in a piecemeal, disjointed and unco-ordinated fashion. Yes, there’s a surface level treatment of the issues we face and a factual grounding (what is climate; how does it differ from weather), but it does not deal with what does it mean for us or what should we be doing questions. Yes, there’s a clear setting out of how different subjects can contribute to a study of the climate and how it is changing, but no hint that a co-ordinated, interdisciplinary approach would help students make sense of the world they are inheriting. Yes, there’s an acknowledgement that things will have to change, but little of no encouragement of schools engaging with this. Yes, there’s coverage across primary and secondary schools, but primary schools are expected to talk about the climate without mentioning climate change. This is rather like discussing 1930s appeasement policies without mentioning the war that followed.
We then added Environmental Education and the Sustainable Development Goals which explores curriculum opportunities in primary and secondary schools for a consideration of the goals. It uses curriculum analysis and school and NGO case studies to stimulate further work in schools to engage young people in learning about local and global environmental issues.
Our latest publication, put on-line last week, is Developing Sustainability: helping school governors influence whole school approaches. This explores how governing boards can help evaluate and develop their school’s approaches to environmental sustainability, posing questions that they might ask about what their school is doing. It arises from a collaboration with the National Governance Association [NGA] and complements the NGA’s own guidance on sustainability, which can be downloaded here.
Developing Sustainability sets out to help schools and their governing boards evaluate and develop their approaches to environmental sustainability. Doing this will help focus strategic planning on the areas requiring specific attention. Evaluating practices in this way may also serve to raise the profile of other issues and stimulate further activity. It is divided into four sections following the established Four Cs model: Curriculum: teaching and learning; Campus: buildings, grounds and budget; Community: inside and out; Culture: caring and respect. The sections set out 26 questions that governing boards might ask themselves about their school. These all begin: “To what extent does your school…” and each question is followed by one example of practices that the question might explore. This is in a “If so, does it …” form. For example, If so, does it consult pupils about the nature of their curricular and wider-school experiences? Obviously, this is only one of many such practices that could be probed. A key use of this resource will be to develop and extend it internally to suit the circumstances and priorities of the school.
We’ll be publishing more such guides as time passes and we’re always happy to discuss ideas for what these might cover, so please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org